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Direct-to-shape (DTS) inkjet printing is the highly efficient process of printing full colour images and text directly onto cans, bottles, sleeves and other shaped containers for beverage, personal care and home care products, amongst others.

The ability to print directly onto containers and change designs on-the-fly is a powerful tool. It gives brands the ability to meet consumers' demands for greater choice and allows them to customise product design and messaging and implement creative marketing campaigns. DTS printing enables brands to communicate with consumers through the product packaging in new ways to increase brand loyalty and engagement and drive new revenue streams.  

Xaar 1003 printheads allow high quality, high-volume single-pass inkjet printing directly onto smooth and shaped containers with exceptional reliability. As a result, DTS inkjet systems

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Why digital?

Mass customisation​

Digital printing allows cost effective production fro​m a single container to high volumes. As a result, brands have the freedom to localise, personalise and customise their products to drive highly-effective promotional campaigns. The process allows brands to conduct new product trials cost-effectively and to tailor production to meet consumer demand for greater choice.​​

Efficient production​

Production efficiencies include minimal job set-up time and late stage differentiation which enables faster turnaround and shorter lead times. On-​the-fly changeover between different products with no minimum order requirement means production lines can handle any range of run lengths, providing ultimate production flexibility​. DTS can also integrate coding and marking — until now a separate process step —​ with the decoration process, printing variable data such as barcodes and “best before” dates directly onto the container.​

Reduced cost​

DTS digital printing reduces costs in a variety of ways. Not only are labels, and the waste associated with labels, eliminated but the ability to print exact volumes significantly reduces capital-intensive inventory and storage space, and minimises waste when designs change. Brands now have the power to print onto bottles and containers directly – each with a different design – at production speeds and very cost-effectively. ​    ​

Why inkjet?

Design creativity​​

Direct-to-shape decoration changes the way brands can engage with consumers through highly creative and effective marketing campaigns and customised messaging. Designs are not limited by the label size but can instead exploit the full potential of the package and can be printed directly onto grooved and ridged areas unsuitable for labels or contact printing technologies. With the ability to rapidly change design, product packages can become a new medium for almost real-time communication, in some cases creating a dialogue between brand and consumer.​

Image resilience​

Low-migration UV inks printed onto PET, glass or metal containers offer excellent physical and chemical product resistance so designs are not damaged by rubbing, scratching and exposure to water or other liquids.​ Inkjet inks, including whites, have been optimised to deliver high impact colour on consumer packaging. 

​Environmental benefits​

As well as removing the need to print and apply labels, DTS avoids waste from overruns, misapplication or changing label designs; in addition, the non-contact nature of the process also means less expensive thinner-wall PET can be used. By printing exact quantities of containers with precise DTS container decoration and information, the volume of labels, label liners and adhesives are significantly reduced and prevented from entering landfill sites and recycling streams​.

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Why Xaar?

The printhead of choice for Direct to Shape printing today is the Xaar 1003.
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Ultimate versatility and reliability   
  • Xaar’s TF Technology® keeps inks in constant motion and prevents sedimentation so that heavily-pigmented white ink is jetted smoothly and consistently onto clear PET and glass containers in a single pass as opaque under- or over-coat layers and for liquid labels
  • TF Technology® and the unique Hybrid Side Shooter™ enable printing onto curved and shaped surfaces in both horizontal and vertical ‘skyscraper’ modes, making Xaar printheads compatible with many production line handling systems
  • Xaar printheads give the flexibility to configure multi-colour units and dedicated spot colour print stations/carousels to suit specific applications
  • Xaar actively partners with a wide range of ink manufacturers to develop high quality, low-migration, ink solutions for its printheads.
Highest productivity

Xaar’s TF Technology® and unique Hybrid Side Shooter® architecture ensures continuous ink flow at a high rate directly past the back of the nozzle during drop ejection. This ensures maximum production and printing uptime

  • Air bubbles or unwanted particles present in the ink are carried away, significantly improving reliability, even in the most demanding manufacturing environments
  • Xaar printheads are self-priming; therefore maintenance cycles are short and start up is instantaneous
  • The XaarGuard™  enables quick recovery from mechanical shock which guarantees costly production interruptions are minimal.
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Outstanding print quality   
  • 1000 Optimised Geometry nozzles deliver precise nozzle uniformity and highly accurate drop placement
  • 360 nozzles per inch, and up to 8 grey levels result in an effective print resolution greater than 1000 dpi
  • These combine to deliver exceptionally smooth tones and wide gamut vibrant images, alongside pin sharp text and fine detail.


Printheads for direct-to-shape