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Prototypes and Packaging

(May 2011) posted on Wed May 11, 2011

Bringing wide-format options to the short-run experience.

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By Mike Antoniak

In the world of consumer goods, packaging is often the last key ingredient in an ambitious marketing plan. It’s where the consumer meets the product and makes the split-second decision to buy, or move on.

No surprise, then, that prototyping is a critical step in the product-development cycle. Only by seeing and holding a sample or mockup of a design concept in hand, can companies decide if packaging adequately promotes its appeal or value while also protecting that product.

In the pre-digital printing days, manually building that prototype was a labor-intensive process. With digital printing’s ability to print directly to a substrate that can then be assembled into that singular sample, however, the process has been streamlined. Today, product marketers enjoy more creative freedom to refine their ideas, quickly see results, and develop that perfect package.

Here’s a look at five companies who are utilizing wide-format technologies to deliver new capabilities in short-run specialty packaging.

CSW: A world of rich media
“CSW is a one-stop-shop for the packaging industry,” says Marek Skrzynski, director of graphics, R&D, CSW, Inc. (, headquartered in Ludlow, Massachusetts. “We’re a brand solutions provider. We provide our customers with everything from design to visualization to the printing tools they need to produce their packaging.”

Prototyping, delivered through CSW’s Bridge Premedia division, is integral to this full-service approach, especially as more of the actual production of packaging has shifted overseas. “Prototyping in packaging is more critical than in any other printing segment,” says Skrzynski. “Looking at a flat may work for publications, but packaging is something that has to be folded and assembled – there’s color and image and a structure to that.”

Digital printing direct to substrates that can be scored and folded, or affixed to other materials, provides an economical answer for accurate rendering of a finished package, he says. “Flat proofing just doesn’t cut it any more. Today’s decision makers and buyers have grown up in a world of rich media. They want and expect to see exactly what they are going to get.”