December 21, 2021 

Global Variable Data Printing: Market Insights for 2022

Global variable data printing market insights for 2022 include more accessibility to laser marking systems, faster coding times, and streamlined limited-edition releases.

Around the world, variable data printing is essential to keeping supply chains efficient, well-organized, and transparent. Variable data markings, such as barcodes, lot numbers, and serial numbers, are essential for mapping where products are, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. 

In 2021, the pandemic highlighted the need for this kind of reliable traceability as distribution networks became disrupted, backed up, and chaotic due to lockdown logistics. Now, as the world gradually moves out of the pandemic era, traceability remains a prime concern. The complex pathways from raw material sourcing to product distribution are being rebuilt, and traceable codes are required to ensure stability throughout this rebuild. 

In response, the industrial coding market has developed new technologies to help companies create long-lasting traceable markings on primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging. Here, we take a look at global variable data printing market insights for 2022 and examine the latest hardware advancements, emerging business models, and legislation changes.

Growing Business Opportunities with the Help of Digital Printing

World events, political policies, and consumer demands force global trade markets to constantly evolve. In the age of COVID-19, these market changes have been especially high profile, as stories of supply chain complications and product shortages have been circulating since early 2020. However, even before the pandemic, global trade was experiencing dramatic changes. 

For example, exports play an incredibly important role in the world economy, as exported products and services currently make up 26% of the planet’s GDP—a substantial increase from just 20 years ago. E-commerce has also increased dramatically over the past decade. In 2020, global e-commerce sales reached a total of $4.28 trillion, and experts fully expect these numbers to increase in coming years as companies like Amazon, Alibaba, and Target continue to dominate the field. 

To participate in these hyper-globalized supply chains, companies need to outfit their products with codes that not only align with distributor demands but comply with the traceability standards set by individual countries. This is where digital printing can help. 

Digital printing hardware like piezoelectric inkjet printers (e.g. Kyocera KJ4A Series or Polaris PQ-512/85 AAA) and digital presses enable companies to meet these requirements in several ways. Notable capabilities include:

  • The ability to place codes in a variety of languages: Modern printers can create icons, symbols, and text codes in multiple languages, allowing companies to comply with specific marking requirements within a single facility.
  • Streamlined limited-edition releases: In the past, if a company wanted to create a limited edition product, they were often forced to create new pre-printed packaging for the release. Digital printing presses streamline this process by creating the new packaging designs directly on the production line. This eliminates the need for outsourced packaging designs, thus lowering shipping costs and accelerating production turnaround times. 
  • Quicker coding times: Digital printing technologies like continuous inkjet printers and thermal inkjet printers are steadily increasing printer speeds each year. By investing in a top-tier model, companies can leverage these impressive printing speeds to make their productions more efficient.

Each of these advancements can help companies reduce their outsourcing needs and better set them up for large distribution and direct-to-consumer sales.

Additional Traceability Requirements from GS1, Amazon, and Other High-Profile Groups

Digital printing advancements aren’t just helping users meet current traceability needs—they’re also placing companies in an excellent position to comply with future traceability additions.

With the increase in e-commerce and supply chain complexities, distributors are continually seeking ways to ensure traceability and thwart counterfeiting operations. For example, companies like Amazon are introducing additional measures like blockchain security to guarantee that products are traceable and authentic. Global traceability leader GS1 is also expected to release new coding guidelines shortly to answer similar concerns. 

In response, industrial coding companies like Domino and Markem-Imaje are continuing to partner with or acquire software providers to develop new marking solutions that are built with software that will help users comply with these new traceability requirements. For example, Markem-Imaje just acquired Blue Bite, a software company that helps companies enhance their products with the aid of technologies like QR codes, NFC tags, and geofencing.

More Accessibility to Laser Marking Systems

As one of the most exciting variable data printing market insights for 2022, we’re happy to report that laser marking systems are soon to become more accessible than perhaps ever before.

Although laser coding systems have long been known for their reliability, effectiveness, and ability to mark a wide range of substrates, their large upfront costs have prevented many operations from being able to access the technology. Today, several high-profile manufacturers—including VideoJet and Domino, as well as a few Chinese companies—are working to change this by developing lower-watt laser marking models. 

While the lower wattage will make these models slower than top-tier marking systems, they will still be capable of creating quality marks on both porous and non-porous substrates. Further, these machines are expected to be smaller than traditional laser marking systems, allowing users to place them in the more compact spaces often filled by CIJ or TIJ printers.

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With the abundance of new marking technologies arriving on the market, there are many reasons to be excited about 2022. Improved digital printers and accessible laser markers promise to help companies adapt to the post-pandemic world and comply with new traceability requirements. At C&M Digest, we’re dedicated to bringing you the latest news on coding and marking solutions, brands, and the industries that they will benefit.

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C&M Digest Team

The C&M Digest Team is composed of experts from across the coding and marking world. Comprised of ink developers, hardware veterans, and engineers, our News Team delivers informed coverage that is always free from brand bias.

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