Owens-Illinois (O-I) has launched an invention to transform glass bottles using digital printing.

O-I: Expressions will enable brands to create highly personalised and customised glass packaging at flexible volume, industrial speeds, and affordable value.

The world’s largest container glass manufacturer said the new launch will provide an unprecedented range of colour and design possibilities, compared to traditional decoration solutions.

Brands will be better equipped to respond to growing consumer demand for personalised and 'made for me' products. Brands will quickly and nimbly be able to develop packaging to support short campaigns, such as seasonal promotions or limited/special editions to mark major events.

O-I: Expressions is also sustainable. It uses organic inks, not impacting the recyclability of glass and it helps reduce waste through lower inventories.

The Expressions services are planned to be commercially available by mid-2019 in Europe and shortly after in the US. In the meantime, O-I is already available to initiate projects and discuss collaborations.

Vitaliano Torno, President of O-I Europe said: "Europe accounts for 24% of the global personalised packaging market and at the same time Europe is a core market for O-I, so it is fitting that the first step of our journey will take place here.

“We see the desire for individual retailers to provide unique promotions gaining momentum and brands are increasingly using personalised promotions to differentiate themselves. To execute these types of programmes requires fast design and approval cycles with prompt execution. O-I: Expressions makes all of this possible."

The Technology

In 2014 O-I invested in a small-scale digital printing equipment to develop the foundations for the O-I : Expressions services and validate them with the market.

To bring this new service to market at an industrial scale, O-I is making an initial investment in two direct2glass digital printing industrial lines, enabling contactless direct printing, through a Drop-on-Demand process, which only generates an ink drop when it is required for printing.

The use of UV inks enables fast and reliable curing, while the CMYK model opens the door to the spectrum of Pantone hues.