Inside the Industry: Exclusive Interview with Don Allred of Kodak, Speaker at the 2017 Digital Print for Packaging US

Ahead of the 2017 Digital Print for Packaging US conference, Smithers Pira spoke with industry leader, Don Allred the WW Marketing Director, Enterprise Inkjet Solutions at Kodak, to gain his perspective on what the appeal of mass customization is for brands, what he is most looking forward to at this year's conference and more.

Smithers Pira: What is the appeal of mass customization for brands?

Don Allred: Mass customization can be the same as mass versioning.  The critical point is to relate to the customer.  Not all customers are the same.  If they can use mass customization and relate to more customers, they can increase Brand loyalty and sales.  For example – take dog treats.  With traditional printing you can print one or two different dogs for a particular treat.  Mass customization would say the brand can print 30 – 50 – 100 different dogs or breeds for a particular treat.  Clearly, they will relate to customers, and most likely create a social media buzz with customers looking for their treat.  Remember other owners will be OK with buying whatever breed is similar to their dog.  No lost sales, only upside.

Smithers Pira: This installation represents a shift from short run to high volume for digital print-- what has enabled this change?

Don Allred: Kodak’s Stream Inkjet Technology is the core differentiator.  As has been demonstrated in the commercial print and publishing markets, customers that have high volumes realize significant benefits in cost and throughput, while enjoying the great print quality offered by this Kodak technology, as embodied in the Prosper presses.  Add the benefit of water based inks that are compliant with indirect food contact regulations and you have a great fit for packaging.  The technology enables Production Digital – high volume production (up to 12,000 B1 Sheets per hour), great PQ (award winning quality), and the lowest cost of print driven by reliability (proven in the toughest commercial and publishing applications), long head life, and great prices on water based inks.

Smithers Pira: What are the next steps for successfully delivering on the potential of digital print?

Don Allred: Now that we have met the need for production speed, quality, and costs in carton packaging, Kodak is taking the same capabilities into the flexible packaging market segments.  More on that later.  For printing on cartons, we see continued expansion of applications through more capabilities of in-line finishing processes, as well as continued advancement of our technology.

Smithers Pira: What challenges remain to be addressed?

Don Allred: Technically, the product capability is quite strong.  Optimization of varnishes and foil applicators, and other traditional package decoration.  With this, converters will be able to offer more and more flexibility and capabilities to Brands, all while offering the lowest possible cost. 

Smithers Pira: What are you most looking forward to about the conference?

Don Allred: It will be an honor to share the stage with our first customer – Zumbiel Packaging.  This is a company with vision and a determination to be the first to enable Production Digital in their facility for cartons.  Going public about their capabilities and confidence in this next step in digital evolution will be important for the industry to hear. 

Hear more from Don and Ed Zumbiel of Zumbiel Packaging during their presentation Folding Cartons: Digital Printing for Mass Market Products and Packaging during the Digital Print in Action: Converter Case Studies session on day two of this year's conference.