Digital direct-to-shape decoration is creating a lot of buzz in the rigid packaging industry. And it’s not hard to see why that is. After all, who would object to having the high-quality and photo-realistic images, design flexibility, mass customization, end of restrictive minimum quantity order (MQO) requirements, and other benefits that this technology offers?
But buzz is not enough. In order to turn digital direct-to-shape decoration into a widely used technology it also has to work at production line speed while still delivering high-printing quality and properties, and it absolutely must be cost-efficient. Only then can it compete with, and replace, analog decoration technologies that have been around for years.
Not all digital printing technologies are created equal
‘Digital printing’ or ‘digital decoration’ can refer to many technologies, each offering a different concept, with variations in image quality, decoration features, properties, reliability, total cost of ownership (TCO) and more. The core benefit of all digital decoration technologies is the elimination of plates and screens, thus delivering agility and responsiveness. But Velox’s decoration technology goes far beyond that and provides several unique capabilities that deliver a disruptive impact compared to analog decoration.
First, it includes multi-tier reliability and repeatability mechanisms, making it a truly 24x7 industrial solution. Second, it prints with up to 11 color inks at full production speed, enabling an ultra-wide color gamut and highly accurate color matching, truly eliminating the need for spot colors. Third, it replaces much more than just the decorator. It eliminates the need for base coating as well as top coating, which translates to significant economical and sustainability benefits.
On the visual side, this technology delivers multiple unique benefits. For example, unlike most deployments of aerosol-based dry offset decoration, in which white is applied as a full-cover base coating, Velox technology can apply white ink selectively. With Velox’s highly opaque selective white, brands can combine, all in a single design, logos and images that require white base coloring with metallic affects achieved by applying specific colors on the aluminum substrate.
Additional capabilities that increase brand value and shelf appeal include unlimited color gradients and high-quality photorealistic images, true 360° ‘endless’ designs and digital embellishments, such as digital gloss, digital matte and digital tactile/embossing inks.
Unique technology by design
Velox’s commercially deployed direct-to-shape inkjet technology was developed from scratch specifically for mass-production direct-to-shape digital decoration. It comprises two pillars: a novel printing process, optimized for digital direct-to-shape printing; and a set of uniquely formulated digital inks. By combining the two together, Velox created a digital decoration technology that for the first time brings digital technology to mass production and large batch sizes.
The superb printing quality, high-performing ink properties, fast speed, ability to print on multiple substrates, and the reliability of the machine are what makes the Velox solution a conclusive replacement for analog technologies.
Direct-to-shape for aerosol containers – doing more with less
The first implementation of this unique technology is the Velox IDS 250 digital decoration solution for cylindrical containers, which provides direct-to-shape digital decoration on aerosol cans without compromising on quality, speed, properties or cost. The solution’s speed meets production line speed (250 containers per minute) and is fully compliant with all the requisite decoration properties. It delivers superior decoration quality and a low TCO regardless of batch size.
Deploying the Velox decorator in the aerosol production line abolishes multiple processes and their related equipment. In addition to eliminating the need for a dry offset decorator, it also removes the need for a VOC burner, and for a base coat and top varnish along with the three ovens needed for these processes.
With all that, the Velox solution improves sustainability by reducing environmental footprint throughout the lifecycle of the product.
First, by removing the need for plates/blankets and nearly eliminating setup time, it dramatically reduces substrate waste. Then, by increasing capacity through significantly reduced downtime, and by that lowering energy costs, it reduces the number of systems needed within the production line. The inventory reductions and supply chain simplification that the Velox solution allows also have sustainability benefits. In addition, when utilizing Velox decoration, sleeves and labels can be replaced with direct printing, delivering a much greener decoration solution.
Going beyond buzz
The powerful decoration capabilities, significant cost savings, enhanced creativity and improved sustainability that the Velox IDS 250 introduces easily justify the transition to direct-to-shape digital decoration technology. Now, this is definitely a technology innovation that transforms packaging.