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One in four graphic arts businesses engaged in packaging – new survey

Thursday, 27 April 2006
By Print21

Nearly one-quarter of graphic arts businesses, including both printers and trade shops, are currently producing packaging work of some type in house, according to a report from US research organisation TrendWatch Graphic Arts.

Heidi Tolliver-Nigro, analyst for TrendWatch and author of the report, claims packaging offers significant opportunities for graphic arts businesses that are facing an increasingly competitive marketplace.

“But the realities of this marketplace mean that, in order for success, graphic arts firms must either make a significant investment in skill sets, workflow, and hardware; or have a keen eye for where they can apply existing workflows with only minimal retooling,” says Tolliver-Nigro.

“Clearly, a certain percentage of graphic arts firms have figured out the right balance for their businesses and are capitalizing on the available opportunities, but there are clearly missed opportunities and unrealistic expectations, as well,” she says.

Trade shops have invested solidly in the packaging market, with wide-format inkjet taking precedence over offset and toner-based production. And while the hype rests on toner-based presses for short-run packaging jobs, shops with digital printers were among the least likely to be involved in the packaging market according to TrendWatch Graphic Arts.

Quick printers were among the most likely to identify opportunities in the packaging market, but were also singled out as having the least involved in the market and the least likely to be making packaging-specific investments.

The report also examines the importance of packaging in the overall service mix. While the overwhelming majority claim that packaging comprises 25 per cent or less of their operations, 10 per cent are doing 50 per cent or more of their volumes in packaging, meaning there are some major players in the sector.

While most shops are using offset or digital presses, TrendWatch found that a significant percentage of respondents are using flexographic presses. Large-format printers and inline flexo or gravure units also have a significant presence.

In addition to the traditional packaging applications adopted by commercial printers, such as folding cartons and labels, TrendWatch claims it discovered that a significant percentage of respondents are producing blister packs, flexible packaging, and other non-traditional applications.

“Printers & Packaging 2006” is available from the TrendWatch Graphic Arts website at, and can be purchased for $US249.

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