CINCINNATI, OH—Two months ago, Nilpeter and Screen USA announced the formation of a strategic partnership targeting digital and hybrid press technologies, to be encapsulated in the PANORAMA platform. One month ago, the team unveiled the concept in motion at INFOFLEX 2019. Today, the collective effort came together in the staging of a Digital Days Open House at the Nilpeter USA Technology Center in Cincinnati. There, the two firms, supported by a contingent of their industry partners, welcomed some 80 open-minded converters intent on exploring options.
Digital? Flexo? Hybrid? Custom Configured? Inline finishing? Offline? All were topics on the day-long agenda. Paul Teachout, vice president, sales and marketing, Nilpeter USA, encouraged all present to, “Do more with less. Utilize today’s tools. Streamline and boost efficiency.” He maintained that, “Solutions and embellishments are the strength of the partnership between Nilpeter and Screen.” Serving as the bedrock foundation of the collaborative effort: the PANORAMA digital label printing platform.
PANORAMA can operate as a stand-alone digital press, a combined digital press and converting solution and as a hybrid that integrates flexo units, the digital press and converting solutions. The third scenario was the subject of the day’s printrun.
True Hybrid Production
Digital Days gathered converters to experience first-hand a hybrid flexo-digital solution, in action, as Nilpeter and SCREEN revealed how true hybrid inline production differs from conventional flexo/near-line converting. “The fully integrated, purpose-designed, highly engineered solution stands in sharp contrast to aggregated, add-on component options that truly cannot achieve the seamless production needed in today’s converting environment,” Teachout explained.
For his part, Ken Ingram, president, SCREEN Americas, is on record as noting that while the narrow web flexo market has experienced steady growth in recent years, the same business pressures affecting the overall print market are impacting packaging. Alluding to the hybrid technologies on display, he stressed, “We’ve been perfecting this technology for longer than anyone else in the market.”
At issue, the obvious: shorter runs, faster time to market, customization, customer engagement, SKU proliferation, waste reduction, cost control, and efficiency… efficiency… efficiency. As Lenny DeGirolmo, president/managing director for Nilpeter USA, once observed, “Our customers have one foot in two worlds. They’re serving customers who have built brands on 30 years of analog print methods and yet they need to help them meet the challenge of next-generation problems.”
In welcoming participants to the open house, he and Ingram offered that, in pooling the two organizations’ talents, “We can help label converters and printers make informed decisions as to what options will best meet their specific company and market needs whether digital, flexo, hybrid, converting or even all of them!” DeGirolmo mentioned, “SCREEN and Nilpeter have been connected for nearly five years now, but in officially partnering earlier this year, indicated that, “We both want to achieve the same goal at the end of the day.”
At one point in the proceedings, Teachout introduced REFINE finishing, deeming it, “the clever way to convert.” In doing so, he acknowledged, “Automation is the key word of the day. ‘Big Data,’ ‘Internet of the Future,’ all happen to make us more efficient.” REFINE is a digital finishing system. It’s compact, 14-in. and offers several configurations: die cut, die cut plus flexo, slitter/rewinder, sheeter. All options are servo driven and controlled through touchscreen. Teachout described REFINE as, “global, universal, operator friendly, low maintenance and affordable.”
Digital as Mindset
Invited speakers addressed digital’s role in packaging. Here are just a few insights.
Mark Geeves of Color-Logic decreed, “Digital makes things convenient. It’s a change of mind. It helps printers differentiate themselves from the competition. It drives revenue.” He later commented, “White is the new gold!” then said, “Plug-ins and pallets indicate that designers want to visualize effects before wasting production time. Brands see digital as a ‘wow’ factor addressing economics, time to market, unlimited possibilities and decorative effects.”
Shawn Lowe of One Vision also spoke to efficiency. His take: “Digital speeds up production time at no additional costs. The world has changed. We can handle more jobs and execute small runs, one after the other.” He stressed adoption of “quick, fast, efficient process automation at the front end,” and later insisted that converters “replace manual touches, increase throughput, and always know and understand where each and every job is.” His message: “You’re in control. Make certain everybody is communicating—the customer, MIS, prepress, production, finishing. Stress ease of operation, error-free production and end-to-end workflow.”
In a similar vein, Diane Ewanko of Avery Dennison said, “Digital has definitely moved beyond the use of personalization and customization. Larger label converters are capitalizing on the economic value, as well as the speed-to-market advantages.”
Passion for Print
Gary Walton of Cincinnati State told listeners, “We are losing when it comes to getting young people into our industry. People believe it’s a dying industry.” He issued this call to action: “Remind them, life revolves around print!”
Additional advice rendered, “Be passionate. Educate young people in the art of printing. Promote pride in the industry.” He suggested that one enticing factor that might help capture their attention—the printed electronics application; more specifically, “When Apple’s iPhone XII debuts, 50 percent of the device will be printed on a press.”