Beverage can printing in the craft brewer’s market primarily involves printing a label and adhering it onto a can. With recent strides in inkjet machines, the ability to mass produce aluminum cans with the label printed directly onto the product is now a reality. The benefits of direct-to-can printing are endless. Ensure your product is recyclable, produce stunning graphics and lower your costs.
The benefits for craft brewers who adapt beverage can printing into their production process include the ability to create high-quality labels on demand – which opens up new business opportunities. They also gain complete control of the supply chain by bringing everything in-house, as well as adopting a more sustainable practice.
Here’s a noteworthy statistic from a Nielsen survey: 71% of consumers state that they would most likely try a beer that has a unique graphic that stands out. Considering what a high percentage this is, graphics are without a doubt one of the most important elements of a craft beer package.
Cylindrical direct-to-object printing enables full-color, high-quality, consistent graphics while also making possible the use of design elements that alternative methods are unable to achieve. In addition to eye-catching imaging, this method makes it possible to produce much smaller runs. Limited-edition brews can be more frequently added to the product mix, as well as customized branding for a particular brew for a seasonal release, music festival, wedding or other special event.
Controlling the supply chain by bringing printing in-house will help craft brewers keep up with trends by producing specialized limited-edition graphics and other custom brand elements, without worrying about production minimums or lead times.
Finally, beverage can printing is much more sustainable than the alternatives. Not only does it greatly reduce the amount of plastic waste from label backings and adhesives, it also enables the product to be completely recyclable after use.
See our aluminum can printing applications
Direct-to-object printing changes business models for the better because it allows you to have complete control over your supply chain. Bringing beverage can printing in-house and utilizing digital cylinder printing reduces the stress of long lead times that can at times exceed six months. It also completely eliminates minimum order quantities, which can be on the order of 12 pallets or 100,000 cans. Companies are able to take charge and improve inventory inefficiencies because they are in control.
Aside from the supply chain, companies are also able to differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace. According to the same Nielsen study, 66% of American craft beer buyers say that a beer’s packaging is “very” or “extremely” important in capturing a consumer’s attention. This number justifies the idea of bringing labeling in-house to be able to quickly adjust, customize for limited edition brews and even test markets with different graphics before entering (i.e. custom labeling for businesses, events and more).
Finally, direct-to-object printing contributes to the health and well-being of our environment. The use of alternative decorating methods such as shrink sleeves and labels produces excess waste. While companies are trying to decrease waste and expand upon more sustainable production methods, these older processes only contribute to the problem. Direct-to-object printing allows the item to be completely recyclable after use without having to remove a layer of plastic.
Some trends in the craft brew space regarding cylindrical objects include highly creative, more attention-getting, colorful graphics; limited edition brews; and personalization for corporate and social events and festivals. As the numbers indicate, consumers are looking for a product that stands out the most when shopping for a brew. That same 71% of consumers who are drawn to unique graphics also decide which beer to buy at the point of purchase. Differentiation with colors and packaging techniques is more important now than ever.
This method of printing also enhances marketing campaigns in support of another trend: more frequent small-batch, limited-edition brews. Giving craft brewers the flexibility to experiment with different brews enables them to better test the market.
Finally, direct-to-object printing allows brewers to further explore new markets, such as the growing personalization market. Once dubbed the official brewer of a particular event, the brewery will then be able to produce a custom label for the event. This also holds true to corporate events. Consumers are looking for customizing products and direct-to-object printing furthers these capabilities.
Generally speaking, there are two different types of cylindrical direct-to-object printing systems on today’s market. First, there are high-end cylindrical inkjet printers that are quite expensive and highly complex. Only a few producers are targets for this equipment; they are typically companies that print very high volumes of product. There are also small- to medium-volume cylindrical inkjet printers, which are perfect for companies looking to produce roughly 200 to 400 parts per hour (pph), at price points ranging from $200,000 to $300,000.
These printing machines are ideally suited to environments where the bulk of the work is small- to medium-length runs and the graphics change frequently. This is also where Inkcups fits into the market. We have a dedicated series of high-speed digital cylinder printers that consistently produce the high-quality, stand-out graphics consumers are drawn to – paired with the flexibility that brewers look for.
Cylindrical direct-to-object printers in our view are necessary – and purpose-built – for this work. One alternative to direct-to-object printing would be shrink sleeves, which are currently popular for small- to medium-size runs with relatively quick turnaround times. While this process works for some, it does not provide the same degree of design capability or visual appeal. Shrink sleeves, for example, produce a glossy look which is less attractive to certain companies. It also does not allow for floating graphics or other design elements to help products stand out. There is also a high rate of rejection when applying shrink sleeves, which can be attributed to folding or creasing and which results in lower yields and loss of product.
Shrink sleeves also do not address the sustainability aspect that consumers are increasingly opting for. In Europe, there has been a recent issue related to recycling aluminum with plastic on it. The Netherlands, for example, imposes higher fees for recycling aluminum containers with plastic labels, in order to reduce the number of products utilizing this type of product decoration.
Standard digital printers use the CMYK color model, which matches about 70% of Pantone (PMS) colors. Inkcups offers a printer that can also include orange and green and that will allow matching of around 90% of PMS colors. These machines are very well-equipped to reproduce high-quality graphics with accurate, brand-consistent colors. They can also provide uniform adhesion to aluminum, glass and various plastics (Tritan™, polypropylene and Polycarbonate).
Read the recent article by Industrial Print Magazine: Brewing Innovation: Craft Beer Takes on Cylindrical Printing
Inkcups is the leading manufacturer and supplier of industrial printing equipment including pad printing machines, UV printers, tagless t-shirt printing equipment and laser plate-makers. To complete the solution, Inkcups also is a supplier of UV inkjet ink, inkjet primers, pad printing ink, pad printing solvents, pad printing plates, pad printing pads and more. With offices on practically every continent, Inkcups is able to provide solutions and support across the globe.Back to Blog Home