When the printing press was invented in the 15th century, it revolutionized the world with the ability to reproduce printed material in mass quantities. However, as the business landscape has become more complex and segmented in the 21st century, a new need has emerged to create unique printed pieces at scale.
While this would have sounded impossible a few decades ago, it’s now possible thanks to another revolutionary technology – variable data printing (VDP).
What is variable data printing?
VDP is an advanced feature of digital printing where unique elements are added to each piece. You can think of this process as creating a series of one-off items in a single print run, compared to simply reproducing the exact item as with standard printing. The digital printer accesses an external file with the variable data, which can include text, graphics, or images.
Benefits of VDP
With the ability to customize each printed item, VDP offers a host of benefits for manufacturers and companies.
- Logistics and supply chain management – Utilizing VDP, every product can be assigned a unique device identifier (UDI). This improves asset tracking and the ability to trace a single product back to its production run.
- Counterfeit protection – Combatting the $1.5B counterfeit industry, manufacturers can use VDP to prove their products’ authenticity.
- Regulation and compliance – For industries with stringent QA and safety regulations (such as pharmaceutical, medical devices, and food supply), VDP helps companies meet traceability requirements.
- Personalization – VDP opens the door to personalized branding, marketing, and promotional opportunities using a company’s customer database.
Types of variable data printing
Depending on your product and goals, there are several VDP techniques you can take advantage of:
- Serialization – Adding serialized data or sequential numbering is a simple yet effective method for tracking and anti-counterfeiting. For enhanced security, special inks can be used to prevent unauthorized duplication.
- Bar codes – Bar codes are not a new technology, but the addition of VDP allows bar codes to be personalized or serialized.
- Crytoglyphs – With a Cryptoglyph, a series of randomly placed microdots are printed on the packaging. This pattern cannot be replicated and is scanned to confirm authenticity.
- Raised images – By printing images or graphics with multiple layers of toner, you can create a tactile element that is difficult to replicate.
- Microtext – As the name implies, microtext is so small that it’s difficult to read with the naked eye and nearly impossible to reproduce without high-tech printing technology.
- Guilloches – A Guilloches is an intricate printed pattern that is extremely difficult to replicate.
Selecting a printer for VDP
When incorporating variable data printing into your product, it’s imperative to choose a printer with extensive experience in this sophisticated process. At Tapecon, we’ve helped our customers use VDP for personalization, counterfeit protection, and many other purposes. Our team can consult on the best materials and VDP techniques based on your application and needs. From there, our printing department uses the latest technology, including state-of-the-art Xeikon printers.
Let’s make something great
With over 100 years of manufacturing experience, Tapecon works with product teams to solve challenges, create products, and enhance lives. Learn more about our durable printing and coating services.