David Ellen in conversation with PrintWeek India

David Ellen, divisional director for digital printing business, Domino spoke to PrintWeek India on the sidelines of LMAI Conference held from 25-27 July 2019 in Kochi. Among other things he discussed the advantages of the digital print platforms, including hybrid systems

05 Aug 2019 | By Noel D'Cunha

David Ellen, divisional director for digital printing business, Domino

PrintWeek India (PWI): In your presentation during the LMAI, you mentioned that buying digital assets should be complete the choice of the label converter?

David Ellen (DE): Yes, because digital technology offers different platforms, but what you buy should be related to your business, not that of your suppliers. It really depends on the book of business of the converter. It’s your monies, so make the perfect choice because it can have a domino effect on your business.”

PWI: Digital technology makes it very easy to manufacturing labels very quickly?

DE: Digital assets mean that you can change from job to job very quickly, reduce the costs associated. It means that the brands don't have a lot of inventory, they can print-on-demand. If you look at the demographics of the label and the brand there’s a proliferation out there in the marketplace. So, for instance, if you walk down the supermarket aisle today, you would see different versions of the washing powder. Unlike the past where there was just one type, now there are washing powers for spring, there’s one for summer freshness, for autumn, and so on. Digital allows mass customisation.

PWI: One aspect of the job is print and the other is digital. What kind of mix does one have in finishing?

DE: So it depends on which platform you use. And depending on your book of business, if you want to buy a roll-to-roll platform, then, of course, you're going to have to you can print and utilise that digital asset as much as possible, because it's digital, but then you're going to have to take that and take it to a finishing line and finish it. So it's going to be somewhat two-touch.

PWI: Meaning?

DE: It really depends on the digital asset you have. Today the speeds of some presses would need two finish lines to be able to accommodate the capacity of the digital asset.

But if you have longer runs with embellishments, you could have a hybrid solution, where you put the paper in at one end and you send the finished label out the other end. That is very good. But it moves away from some of the digital benefits because you have to set up flexo stations and things like that. So you're moving back to an analogue point of view. So it really depends on the book of business of the converter.

PWI: How does the label printer ensure traceability of the original file to the press, to the job validation and final storage of data generated from the final printed label?

DE: So there are two questions, I think the difference one with the digital asset, you can provide a print verification to the brand instantaneously. If you have several versions to produce, you can do it instantaneously without the need to make plates for every version.

PWI: Pre-press, the bottleneck?

DE: The issue is even in a digital world, just like a flexible world, there's a bottleneck. In the flexo world, it is the makeready time for the job. And it's on the press, the bottleneck for digital is pre-press, making sure you set the file, get the right data, make sure it's correct because it's like a computer - garbage in, garbage out. So it's really about getting the right people and understanding the workflow.

PWI: Importance of workflow?

DE: Many people that move into digital, don't think about the workflow, they think about the digital asset and how it runs, but they don't think about the workflow to feed it. You have to feed the beast, it runs fast but you have to have the information to feed it.

PWI: Guaranteeing green for the brands?

DE: So it's very difficult for me to answer because printing has some fundamentals that are not green – whether it’s digital or flexo.

There is a movement towards sustainability; there is a movement to the green part of how Domino moves as a company. When we manufacture ink, we take all of the aspects of being a green company seriously. It gives us a market advantage, which some of the competitors who do not manufacture inks but buy inks from other companies.

PWI: So what does the printer have to do? 

DE: Oh, well, of course, he has to look at the substrates he buys, he has to make sure that he doesn't pull things down the drain. He has to dispose them in the correct manner. So lots of things and he does has to be ISO certified. So you've got certain criteria, you're working with it. But it's a mindset. It's an educational mindset, but we will do it the same way forever if we don't educate.

PWI: The onus is on ...

DE: I think the onus is on the manufacturers, the printers and also the brand owners. Because the brand owner wants to sell more brands; because the brand owner wants to use the glossiest, the brightest and the best possible package to sell their products. If they really want to be green they should just print on paper and water-based ink.

PWI: Will they?

DE: I don’t think, because they won't be able to sell as many products.