Digital Front Ends for Package Printing

by Lee Zerfass, Anderson and Vreeland

There has been a huge push towards digital printing over the last few years and increased interest in what digital printing has to offer, including short-run printing efficiencies, personalization, prototyping and more.

Every digital press is a complicated piece of hardware; the mechanics “under the hood” are scary yet brilliant. Digital press vendors have encapsulated the complexities of their software in a single component called the Digital Front End, or DFE.

Before digital presses, printers talked about RIPs, workflow, stepping, trapping, imposition, color mapping, calibration, etc. Mentally, we separate the components or tasks required to make flexo plates. But in the digital world, it’s just the “DFE” – a catch-all phrase for all of that software “stuff” that is required to keep the press running. For that matter, everything else up and downstream serves as the focal point for all job information, all the way to shipping methods and addresses.

Think about how archiving physical plates is vastly different to storing jobs in the cloud. How do you know without hesitation which version of a job you printed an hour or a year ago? These are very useful concepts outside of the digital printing world too, but our world is getting much smaller, with merging technologies from other similar industries offering significant benefits for flexo.

The bonus for management is it’s less complicated. Following a successful digital transition, operational costs are going to decline overall due to consolidation of data and efficient production. In fact, as a major manufacturer and distribution partner for the flexo industry, Anderson and Vreeland’s contention is that every business can benefit from a “DFE” – an integrated system that combines all of a client’s business systems and processes to drive business more efficiently.

You can read about the benefits of Digital Front Ends in an article published in the February 2015 issue of Flexo magazine (registration required).

Lee Zerfass is digital business development manager at Anderson & Vreeland, headquartered in Bryan, Ohio. This article was reprinted with permission. Read the original article at