There are two major global trends in packaging printing

Printers - very often label printers - active in this business dovetail their print data with the manufacture of electronic control devices. Formerly traditional printers, these companies are increasingly evolving into equip-ment suppliers. The devices offered include hand-held devices or checkout systems that verify the printing inline. Consequently, a rapid and glitch-free interface between the control device and ticket is necessary.

What`s possible in this field reaches its zenith in ATMs - and here, too, label printers provide the security printing, including among other things special security inks for banknotes and bank cards. They also supply the control devices in the ATMs which operate at the speed a customer expects of an ATM. Up to 1,800 tickets, vouchers or banknotes per minute is cur-rently the norm. In future, an even higher reading/control speed will, however, be called for.

In English-speaking countries, daily competitions are immensely popular. The few offset printers active in this line of work go to great lengths. Very often the data handling for the organisation, control, printing, shuffling and packaging of all the bingo cards can only be semi-automated. On top of that, a sophisticated logistical delivery system is in place. Once col-lected, data within the cross-promotional media mix is initially used for the printing of tickets, for instance. The same data, however, forms the basis for the printing of flyers, advertising spreads or the creation of Web sites. For example, the user may recognise the magnifying glass on the Web site which enlarges the key, recurring advertising copy as being the same as that which appears on the flyer, advertising spread or packaging. Of course, the label or ticket will also bear the magnifying glass.

printing packaging

A further example of an application is an on-pack promotion for soft drinks in the form of a printed key. The scratch-and-win specialist marks the keys with printed codes and covers them with a special scratch-off layer (ther-mochromatic or other security inks could be used). The print data are also passed on to a display manufacturer who is producing the base for a PC. These computers stand in discotheques or pubs. If the code on the key is the correct one, the beverage packaging displayed on the screen opens and the disco patron has won a prize - at the same time, of course, inter-nalising the advertising message once again. The code on the packaging serves as the trigger for a digital process and vice versa!

For many confectionery suppliers, the identification and deciphering of bar codes is a priority. A silver strip is applied over the inkjet-printed codes to hide them from view. In this way, the customer can only read the code after making the purchase. Buyers can then enter the code on their home computers to participate in a competition. The play instinct pure and sim-ple is successfully satisfied here through the code and printing. Very much as by-product of the process, the labels are also specially secured so that they cannot be removed from the packaging before the customer has paid for the product.

In the USA, expensive branded goods are advertised in dedicated com-bined marketing campaigns. To this end, the packaging finisher creates the printed product. A transparent film can be peeled off the product and positioned in front of a specific area on a PC screen to try and solve an online puzzle. What`s particularly attractive is that the branded goods manufacturer, with the help of the packaging printer and the necessary print data/winning codes, can also run off the customer mailings.

Booklets with safety instructions and product information are proving im-mensely popular around the world. Spread over many pages, they offer extensive product descriptions but are nevertheless printed and packed in a compact format. Anything and everything, from a good cheese to a fine wine, today comes packaged with a booklet. The detailed package inserts supplied with medicines have long been a familiar feature of pharmaceuti-cals. The printer is also responsible for pharmacies` label application sys-tems. The special peel and reseal properties required come courtesy of the printer who also produces them on post-press machines. Labels can also be produced to serve a secondary function as hangers for infusion bottles.

Label printing is frequently performed on a narrow-web, eight-colour multi-process printing machine that allows for the combination of flexo, screen, offset and letterpress printing. What`s more, the versions of these machines used for pharmaceuticals are also equipped with extensive safety inspection systems. With the appropriate licences for these fields, booklets of 16 to 32 pages can also be processed and folded in miniature format.