In-House Prototype Printing

Does anyone have knowledge on prototype printing for packaging? (One-off printing for things like Labels, Shrink Film, Folding Cartons, Flexible Packaging, using Foils, Metallic Inks, Varnishes, etc.)

This is something I’ve been interested in for a while, but I can’t seem to find any good information regarding it. I’ve asked a few vendors about it but I haven’t gotten much out of them other than “its expensive,” “there is a steep learning curve,” and “check out Epson.” :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I’m not even sure the kind of printer I should be looking at for this type of stuff.

Any info here would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s a quick, fairly accurate rundown of what you might want to look at (I don’t know this vendor, just found their nice succinct write up online.)
http://www.jetcompfilms.com/package-prototyping-printers/

Machines are expensive.
Check into leasing options.

I’d lean toward the eco-sol if you want to do shrink films. Roland is a good entry level machine that does have white capabilities and cuts as well as prints (I haven’t found anyone at all pleased with the metallic option though. The flakes don’t stay in suspension very well, at least in the older versions.) Just remember, when the machine is cutting, it isn’t printing.

Epson has a very good solvent printer as well.

Just be aware that adding white is an upgrade option.
Either of these might set you back $10k. That’s why I said to check leases.

HP and Mimaki are out there too, but I don’t have a lot of experience with anything HP except their aqueous printers, which you don’t necessarily want. Not cuz they aren’t nice machines, they print beautifully, but because they don’t print to films of the sort you might want to use. Not to mention you can’t get the prints wet…

Our HP aqueous plotter printer will take up to an oaktag thickness stock (a low end 42" with gorgeous photo quality but dye based inks that fade within weeks in the sun.) We use card stock for stud templates but could easily be scored and folded for box templates.

Media can be expensive as well. When buying a printer, check for the media it will run and in what widths. A lot of good general purpose media out there is all 54". You might be able to get OEM media or narrow widths on some things. All media should come with a canned profile to assist you with color management.

Learning curve on a protyping machine isn’t anything difficult. Not rocket science. You most probably won’t even need a rip at first if you learn to use the profiles and/or chart if you need particular pantone matches.

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Check this
https://www.rolanddga.com/applications/package-prototyping

http://www.rolanddgastore.com/category.aspx?zcid=305

Are you wanting to print yourself or hire out the service? There are companies out there that specialize in comp production.

I gathered by “learning curve” he wanted to do it himself.
But you’re right, there are hundreds of prototyping services out there that will do one-offs.
That can be expensive.

Thanks so much @PrintDriver! This is the exact type info I was hoping to find!

@Steve_O Yes, looking to print myself. I’m already using Prototype houses and even going as far as scheduling press time for a trial run of the job prior to the production run. Hoping to one day be able to do this prototyping in house in order to save on lead times and costs.

Welp, looks like what I want is actually $50k!

This is going to take a bit more planning!

Check into leasing options. Seriously.
That way too, if you want a specific upgrade, you aren’t tied into the machine you purchased outright.

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