Unified standards in gravure printing

Unified standards in gravure printing
4Packaging wants to raise the appeal of gravure printing by introducing industry-wide standards, thereby making it more convenient and attractive for brand owners to opt for this printing process (Source: ERA)

As a representative of the ERA engraving supplier members, 4Packaging is excited to share their transformative vision for the future of the gravure printing industry. The company wants to raise the appeal of this process by introducing industry-wide standards, thereby making it more convenient and attractive for brand owners to opt for gravure printing.

The challenges of gravure

Although gravure printing is known for its high-quality printing and efficiency in long print runs, the process is challenged by some perceived downsides. These include lengthy lead times, high tooling costs, extended setup times in the printing process, mechanical deformation over time, difficulties in maintaining consistent quality, and complexities in handling spot colours.


High cost of tooling transitions

A key issue addressed in our industry is the financial impact when brand owners switch printers or when printers are directed to work with specific suppliers. This transition often required significant investments in new bases and existing engravings, costs that have traditionally fallen on the shoulders of the printers. This not only increases the financial burden on printers but also limits the flexibility for brand owners to choose the most suitable and best-performing printing partner.

Navigating transition challenges: Digital profiles

The transition to a new engraving partner has its primary roadblock in creating a digital profile, also known as a fingerprint. This process, involving the preparation of files in pre-press, engraving of cylinders, and conducting print trials, is both time-consuming and expensive. This critical step requires significant resources and often multiple trials to achieve perfection.

The ERA profile: A solution for consistency

In response to these challenges, 4Packaing propose the ERA profile – a one-time digital fingerprint created once with any ERA-certified engraver, shareable across different printing suppliers. This standardization ensures that all ERA-certified engravers and print shops adhere to uniform engraving settings, guaranteeing consistent quality. 4Packaging believe this concept will significantly reduce lead times and costs associated with transitioning between different engraving partners.

Do more of what works

This concept is not entirely new and draws inspiration from the tobacco industry, where a similar approach has been established successfully for almost a decade. Driven by government regulations, tobacco brand owners had to ensure uniform health warning images across all packages in different markets, leading to the development of a standardized solution independent of the printer and engraver. This demonstrates the potential effectiveness of such a standardized approach.

The road ahead

Currently, the proposal of 4Packaging is in its initial stages. Nevertheless, the plan to introduce a universal standard in the gravure industry is gaining traction, with a kick-off meeting scheduled for the first quarter of 2024. This session brings together all interested parties to discuss the specifics and potential impacts of our proposed standardization.

The efforts led by ERA engraving supplier members, including Janoschka, Saueressig, SWG, Coveris, and 4Packaging mark a substantial leap forward in improving the efficiency and sustainability of the rotogravure printing process, while also empowering printers and brand owners to make decisions based on performance. This initiative is about creating a more unified and efficient future for the gravure printing industry, making it more competitive in the evolving printing landscape. We at 4Packaging are fully dedicated to this vision and to collaborate in order to turn this ambitious plan into reality

(First published at ERA Gravure News issue 188/24)