Trends in the Digital Label Printing Industry

Trends in the Digital Label Printing Industry

With 2020 coming to a close, we wanted to look back at some trends that we at Arrow Systems, Inc. have noticed throughout this year. Without our annual tradeshows, it can be tough for the consumer to see where things are headed in the digital label printing industry. Arrow Systems, Inc. tries to stay on the cutting edge of this industry, so we want to share a few items that we have seen.

The Emergence of Inkjet

This is the biggest trend that we have seen as we prepare to enter 2021. Inkjet has emerged as a dominant digital printing method due to the low cost and high speeds at which you can print.

While many who have been in the industry for years have seen this coming, the presence of inkjet technology is greater now than ever before. Even without our yearly trade shows such as LabelEXPO and Printing United, we are seeing the shift to digital inkjet coming on rapidly.

More and more manufacturers are coming out with their own versions of inkjet printing methods. We are also seeing a growth in aqueous inkjet coated materials becoming more readily available. This is not just in the United States and Canada, but throughout Europe and the Asian Pacific markets as well. All of this is happening in response to the desire for inkjet label printers!

More Brand Owners Looking for Label Printers

While this shift has been occurring for a few years now, it seems to have really hit a tipping point during 2020. A lot of this is likely due to Covir-19 and the havoc it wreaked on production and logistics, but another aspect is that brand owners want control over their production.

The ability to change designs on the fly and integrate variable data printing such as QR codes and barcodes has driven a lot of companies to begin investigating in-house label printers. The largest growth segment for this is by far the cannabis and CBD space.

This is largely due to the way cannabis and CBD companies produce their products. There is not a one size fits all label due to the high variety of strains and product lines. Each of these strains and products needs its own unique labels.

It is extremely difficult for a professional label printer to run these types of orders without sacrificing a lot of time and larger volume jobs. These types of jobs are where digital label printing shines through!

Growth of the Flexible Packaging Market

Flexible packaging has seen a steady increase in growth over the past 5 years, but 2021 may be the tipping point for this segment. The move towards more eco-friendly packaging and the rise of automation due to Covid-19. We wrote a blog all about flexible packaging. If you missed it you can check it out here.

Another huge factor for the growth of this segment has been the increase in legalization of cannabis and CBD products. Cannabis producers like the ease of using flexible packaging, and having the ability to print custom mylar bags has created a lot of growth in this segment.

We believe that as the cannabis industry begins to mature within both the United States and Canada, the segment of flexible packaging will emerge a winner, both for converters of the material, as well as brands within that space. It will become more important then ever for cannabis producers to have the ability to control their bag designs and sizes to stay up to date with FDA requirements.

Growth of Eco-Friendly Print Methods

As 2020 comes to a close, it is evident now more than ever that the printing industry will not be excluded when it comes to the new green wave. Flexible packaging, as we discussed above, is one such area where “Green Packaging” will come in to play.

Another aspect of the industry that will continue to get “Greener” is the ink supply that is used to print labels and packaging. Gone will be the days of using solvent based inks to print labels and packaging.

More companies will demand water based inks, and even more specifically water based pigment inks, to be used for their packaging, We recently did a post on all of the different printing methods which you can read here to learn more about.

The bottom line is that eco-friendly packaging is here to stay. Advancements in printing technology as well as materials will continue to be the catalyst for its growth.

Digital Label Printer Costs

Another large factor that is causing more companies to start printing their own labels is that the cost to do so has been coming down. The introduction of new printing technology, inkjet in particular, is allowing digital label printers to be manufactured at a lower cost than in years past.

The increased number of people using lower cost inkjet label printers has led to an increase in the number of material manufacturers creating label materials for them. We are seeing a large influx of material converters looking to get into the inkjet market, and this has helped bring the price for label materials down substantially.

A questions we often receive is “How much does a label printer cost?”. The answer to this question is “It depends on what you need”. Label printers range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few million dollars, and it all comes back to the customers requirements.

Our staff is equipped to help understand the customers label printing needs, and make suggestions for a printer based on that rather than what’s available. If you have questions about what printer best suits your requirements, contact us today!