is here, or almost here. As packaging continues to grab more of the market share, we take a look at some of the trends likely to impact on the sector in 2018 and beyond

Market growth
The next few years will see growth in six packaging formats – flexible, corrugated, labels, metal, folding carton and rigid plastics. New press designs featuring more automation options and integrated inkjet solutions will take advantage of this growth and provide printers with improved reliability.

Hybrid technology
Printers are increasingly looking to combine the benefits of web offset with the advantages that digital, flexo and gravure can offer. Investment in modular in-line platforms is set to increase and will play a big role in how printers adapt to the industry’s changing requirements.

Label design
Drop the graphics – minimalism and simple colour palettes are showing signs of becoming major trends. In contrast, industries like craft beer and beverage are opting for striking print patterns

As more printers opt for automated defect detection, the requirement for human defect review is decreasing. Software and inspection equipment have become more precise and will continue to improve as demand increases.

Automation, automation, automation
Simplified automated workflows are reducing or eliminating manual intervention while increasing print quality. Automated solutions are being described by some as a way of countering the lack of skilled professionals in the industry. Technology solutions that facilitate the sharing of data before, during and after print production will also help to reduce waste and increase print quality.

Clever investment
Investing in the likes of food safe ink systems, LED curing on flexo presses, in-house plate processing/platemaking and business and manufacturing automation now will help differentiate packaging printers in the future.

Intelligent labelling and sustainability
The demand for sustainable packaging and labels is increasing all the time. Sustainability across the supply chain of the self-adhesive industry is also improving with the use of biopolymers and green chemistry.

The year of the flexo printer
improvements in technology will see the flexo printer utilise the screen, anilox and plate to deliver high quality print across all jobs and allow them to compete with the digital and gravure sectors.