Pop cans with a different name on every soda. Frozen food with different recipes featured on each bag. And test runs that give you an exact replica of what the finished product will look like.

Digital printing is creating entirely new possibilities for packaging. Mike Rosinski, marketing director at Cryovac Division, Sealed Air Corporation, says the technology allows for small test runs and extreme customization.

“Let’s say you’ve got a particular product that you’re marketing, and you want to change the label,” Rosinski says. “[For example, if] you wanted to show some recipe ideas, you could be printing an unlimited number of recipes on your labels. If you want each particular bag to be different, you can do that.”

And, he adds, “We could make 10 bags in a row, and each bag has a different number, instead of having to stamp it later or using a barcode.”

It also makes it a lot easier to do test runs.

“We do a lot of proofing of a new idea, and the proofs will be a very accurate reflection of what the product looks like [with digital printing],” Rosinski says. “We can take this to the press and print one bag or five bags, so you can see exactly how that label is going to look on the product. To be able to do that type of thing without having to go to a press saves a lot of time and a lot of money.”

One of the biggest advantages is that a digital press prints everything in high resolution, which offers manufacturers the chance to show detailed images on their products.

However, there are some technological hurdles they are still working to overcome. For example, the digital presses currently only work with smaller-width bags. Specifically, the widest width they can do is 13 inches, and the longest length is 38 inches.

And it’s slower than a typical press, so a typical run would be on the smaller side—30,000-50,000.

“Everybody is very keen on the potential for digital printing, so we are all working collaboratively … to advance this technology, because it does have a lot of advantages for customers as well as manufacturers,” Rosinski explains.

And the future is full of potential.

“It’s going to get better, they’re going to be able to make the presses wider, faster, and as they do, we will see digital print grow in importance in the industry,” Rosinski says.

For more information:

Mike Rosinski, Sealed Air, www.sealedair.com.