Technology saves considerable design and prepress time to produce shrink sleeves, one of the fastest growing packaging segments
Gent (Belgium), EskoArtwork (www.esko.com) is proud to announce that its Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves is the recipient of a 2011 Printing Industries of America InterTech Technology Award. Since 1978 the InterTech Technology Awards sponsored by Printing Industries of America have honored the development of technologies predicted to have a major impact on the graphic arts and related industries. More than 80% of technologies that receive an award experience continued commercial success in the marketplace.
"We are very pleased and honored that, once again, an EskoArtwork product has received an InterTech Award. And, it is even more rewarding because Enfocus Switch - from a business unit of EskoArtwork - has also received an InterTech Technology Award this year," comments Carsten Knudsen, EskoArtwork President and CEO. "However, most important to EskoArtwork is that these products have contributed to our customers' successes. In the case of EskoArtwork Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves, it remedies a very significant pain point for many package printers."
"The judges immediately understood the innovations behind Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves," comments Mark Bohan, Vice President, Technology and Research, Printing Industries of America. "As one judge commented, 'Have you ever tried to create shrink sleeves manually? It's a nightmare. Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves offers a dramatic change to a process that has been done inefficiently for many years.' They were impressed with the math behind it, the ability to work well with asymmetrical packaging and the calculations to predict hue and color shift based on stretching."
EskoArtwork Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves: The perfect design and prepress tool for a growing packaging segment
The global $3 billion shrink sleeve market is growing at about 7% a year. EskoArtwork's Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves creates artwork for shrink sleeves (labels that are placed around a package or packages and shrunk around them during production). Designers and prepress professionals can quickly create, test, analyze, communicate and produce designs with 3D visuals, without the need to conduct physical test runs.
Designing and printing shrink sleeves is difficult, complex and labor-intensive process, involving a number of trial and error steps to get the design right, resulting in long lead times. Designers create grids on the shrink sleeve material, wrap it around the container, run it through a shrink sleeve tunnel, measure the distortion, and try to anamorphically size graphic elements based upon these measurements. The design is tested - often requiring plates and press time - and usually rerun many times. There's the real potential of damaging brand integrity if the process is not handled correctly.
Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves accommodates asymmetrical shapes and multipacks, and works in 3D from start to finish. It also works with a wide variety of substrates, taking into consideration the specific shrinking properties of each. With Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves, it is no longer necessary to manually create test films. Designers aren't working blindly in 2D, nor constrained. The pre-distortion can handle much more complex cases, resulting in more creative designs on more sophisticated containers, offering greater shelf appeal - and stronger sales. The 3D images accurately predicting the end-result can be used to approve designs faster and cheaper than making and shipping mock-ups. Less experienced printers can enter the sleeve label market.
Thus, Studio toolkit for Shrink Sleeves fits into existing design and prepress workflows, saving hours of operator time and weeks of design lead time. This can generate the brand owner significant revenues if a product can be launched earlier, and save the trade shop thousands in costs.
Productive results from customers
"Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves has helped us considerably during the design process. Since we can see how everything will fall on the bottle, it gives us more design freedom," explains Amy Manchester, Lead Technician, Exopack Graphics Center, Spartanburg, SC. "We can use more of the 'real estate' on the package; we aren't confined to a small area. The 3D mock-up is so realistic that our customers see upfront what it will look like before anything is printed. It's a definite 'wow' factor. The best part is there's no expense to show a 3D mock-up."
"Before Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves, we would take a material sample and create a grid on film, shrink wrap it on to the product, and then measure the distortion of the sleeve off the grid. Sometimes we got it right, and sometimes we didn't. When the distortion didn't work, we would have to redo the art and start from scratch. It wasn't unusual to do two to three test runs to get it right," recalls Greg Swindle, Production Manager, Total Quality Labels. "With Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves, preparing art for shrink sleeves is not any more time consuming than preparing art for any other job. Shrink sleeve jobs now take us 2-3 hours, instead of 20-24 hours."
"Clients are giving us shorter and shorter deadlines to produce work for new product launches. So, within the time frame we have, Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves helps us work more efficiently and optimize artwork more easily," points out Matthieu Abiteboul, Managing Director, CEISA PACKAGING, the first beta user of Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves. "The 3-D artwork created by Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves helps us explain to our customers why we suggest certain changes to artwork; modifying the placement of certain items. When we anticipate a problem, we show the original design and demonstrate an alternative solution. Usually, we can show new designs on the same day they have been requested, sending them electronically to the clients' desks. The design agency and marketing departments are always happy with the result, and understand why it is the best design for production. They are part of the process."
"We are thrilled that the judges appreciated the testimonials from users of Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves," concludes Kris Van Bael, EskoArtwork Product Manager, 3D and Image Retouching. "The judges understood that Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves fits a need for a growth industry. When you can reduce design time and prepress time from as many as ten cycles to one cycle, and offer more freedom when designing using a 3D viewer, this is a huge cost saver for a growing packaging market that will be here for quite a while."
"From hardware, such as our CDI flexo plate imagers, to Samba screening technology, to software such as our Neo PDF editor, and WebCenter project and collaboration solution - among others, we are thrilled that EskoArtwork has introduced our industry to a legacy of important, worthwhile technologies that have earned InterTech Awards," concludes Knudsen.