Is DTS technology the future of tubes and aerosols decoration?

Digital direct-to-shape technology to decorate aerosols and other rigid containers makes sense for both mass production and short runs, writes Merav Sheffer, Velox

The commitment to digital direct-to-shape (DTS) technology for rigid container decoration – printing directly on aerosol cans (hair spray, personal care) and plastic and aluminum tubes (hand lotions, cosmetics), etc – is based on four important factors.

Can you achieve the printing quality desired? Does the technology offer the agility required to overcome current analog printing limitations? What is the total cost of ownership (TCO)? And the most obvious question: does the technology meet industry standards for sustainability?

Brand owners and designers, who entice cosmetics consumers with package design, like the superior quality and flexibility digital production affords, and the ability to customise or print any quantity.

Converters look to production workflow, eliminating steps, ease of use, value and whether they can meet sustainability goals, ranked as one of the highest priorities in the packaging industry.

Digital DTS solutions have recently been installed on manufacturing floors around the world. Velox, the creator of DTS digital decorators for mass production, makes the case for such technology over analog.

Superior printing quality

The Velox IDS 250 prints designs using 14 simultaneous colours and special enhancements. At full production line speed of up to 250 containers per minute, the digital printing process provides the highest quality output that remains consistent and stable across batches.

Velox’s digital printing directly onto containers makes photorealistic images (up to 1,200 dpi) possible using a wide colour gamut and accurate colour matching. Embellishments, like selective tactile embossing and digital gloss and matte finishes, enhance the look and feel of a design.

The canvas (the tube or aerosol can) is printed over 360-degrees with no seam, gap, or overlap. Another differentiating feature is the ability to extend the decoration all the way to include the cap, as well as print on the weld.

The digital process supports last minute changes by simply editing the file. To maintain brand and design integrity, colour gradients can be easily adjusted, and text can be changed as needed.

Operational agility

Going digital at full production speed increases the capacity and efficiency of the production lines. Converters can manufacture more with their existing capacity and produce any run length with the sample affordability of today’s large batch production. The number of skus and the sizes of the batches are no longer an issue.

Unlike conventional decoration technologies, with Velox’s digital DTS solution, you can immediately print a few copies of each design on actual products.

These can be used for focus groups or to share ‘final’ samples with decision makers. Obtaining a decorated sample from the production line for proofing is also possible within a day or two, rather than several weeks.

Going digital at full production speed increases the capacity and efficiency of production lines

The digital printing process supports supply-on-demand and helps get products to market faster, eliminating the need to warehouse large quantities of decorated containers.

There is faster turnaround to produce special product editions and fulfil urgent requests for additional decorated pieces.

In addition to mass production, digital DTS makes it easier to produce short runs of products for special promotions to meet quick deadlines and small windows of opportunity to get special products on store shelves.

This includes localised designs and messages to engage a more targeted audience across different geographies and cultures.

Low TCO

Historically, digital printing is reserved for projects that are too costly for analog decoration or the overall quality is not good enough. Used this way, digital printing technology is utilised as an add-on rather than replacement for analog decoration systems.

Velox’s digital DTS solution manages to provide all the benefits of digital decoration in mass production speed, outstripping the benefits of analog on many levels.

It is more efficient, eliminating analog plates and colour mixing while also reducing calibration waste, overhead, electricity and more. Increasing capacity, reducing process steps and lowering production costs translates to a much more agile production and a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

Sustainability goals exceeded

Velox’s DTS solution significantly reduces downtime, footprint, chemical handling units, consumption of energy, and other resources by decreasing the number of systems and modules needed for varnishing, coating and embellishment units, ovens and drying systems.

Because designs are printed directly on the container, there are no labels or sleeves that are then applied to the surface, saving on label substrates, glues and logistics.

The decoration is done simultaneously in one step. The entire digital DTS process helps to exceed sustainability goals.

With printing quality assured consistently, at the highest quality and top production speed, digital DTS is the logical choice for both mass production and short runs.

The technology, as developed by Velox, offers unique decoration capabilities, operational agility and an affordable decoration process.

Across the board, the reduced steps along the production line, systems and material reductions, and overall supply chain efficiencies reduce environmental footprint. All of these points make a strong case for digital DTS.

Companies