ColorGATE on the trends redefining the digital print industry

Ahead of our upcoming Digital Print for Packaging Europe 2019 conference this December, we spoke with Thomas Kirschner, CEO & Founder of ColorGATE GmbH about what we can expect from his presentation at this year's event and his thoughts on the biggest challenges with colour management in the digital print for packaging landscape.

Your presentation will discuss “Plate making” for digital print for packaging applications – challenges and solutions”, can you give us a sneak peak of what delegates will hear?

I deliberately chose my presentation title somewhat provocatively as typically only the hardware elements and of course the print results of the printing press are examined in advance in much detail. The necessary workflow and software solutions are quite often overlooked.

 Of course, there is no physical plate in digital printing. As a software guy I would like to draw the attention to the need for decision-makers to consider what must be software-wise considered and what is required instead of the former printing plate in order to successfully operate a digital packaging printing press.

What do you think is the biggest challenge with colour management in the digital print for packaging landscape?

In my experience of serving early adopters of digital packaging printing systems the biggest challenge is to realize that the final print result in colour and image quality is dependent from so many variable process factors. Some of them can be controlled with the press, like speed or drying settings, some are related to process components like substrate and ink and others are influencing variables that are defined upstream in the print document creation phase.

In addition, people have often forgotten about the theory behind colour since they left school often some decades ago. Therefore, I always try to have a fast track on colour and vision theory recap in my talks.

What are the trends that will redefine the digital printing industry the next 5 years?

I think the biggest trend is the change towards a total solution approach. Almost everything is printable, but success and adoption only takes place if all process steps are well connected and allow a seamless end to end production flow from design to delivery. Key for this is automation and inline process control and correction. Printing gear has arrived in resolutions and printing speeds that are no longer controllable by human inspectors. There is a clear need for inline inspection and correction.

Another important trend is consumer interaction. How can we make presses accessible for consumers so they can take advantage of digitally customized goods and packaging? Ideally directly from their Smartphones.  

What is the driving force for printing press technology today?

Ink and substrate treatment are the key enablers. They define how the process flow must be designed and the physical machine needs to follow it with concept. As said before the growing relevance of automation and control by software to handle more complex system is a consequence.

How can partners and stakeholders in the print industry work effectively to generate growth in the industry?

Collaboration and innovation is key in my opinion. It is not effective anymore even for large manufacturers to design, develop and market printing solutions on their own. A team approach of specialists in many different disciplines that puts the final application and the customer use case in the centre is needed.

Why do you feel it’s important for companies to attend the Digital Print for Packaging Europe conference?

It is the ideal event to hear from experts in their fields, learn from technology adopters and have the chance to mingle and discuss together.

Thomas joins the 'workflow and colour management' track session on day one of this year's conference, alongside GMG, Idealliance and Erhardt+Leimer Corrugated. 

View the full programme >>  | Book your place to join us in Berlin >>