Production-Quality Packaging Prototypes: Where Digital Print Meets Creative Passion

mockupz   |   Germany

Ron Süßmann at work in

Ron Süßmann has a passion for creativity. In particular, he loves to use every tool at his disposal to turn his clients’ vision into an accurate physical prototype they can hold.

“I find it really interesting and it’s my passion to have all these hardware possibilities and software capabilities and to combine them in a really creative way.”

It’s this flair for experimentation and precision that led him to start Germany-based mockupz – a specialist company, in the niche field of rapid packaging prototypes.

In 8 years working as a product manager with CGS ORIS, Ron spent a lot of time demonstrating their FLEX PACK packaging proofing and mock-up production solution at exhibitions.

“Many visitors loved the solution, but they didn’t have the manpower or enough jobs to justify buying the complete package. They would ask if I knew anyone who offered the service and that was the idea behind mockupz, because I’d heard it many, many times.”

Chocolate box prototype featuring gloss ink detail

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Getting Started

With several years of experience, Ron had gained a very specialist set of skills around colour proofing and materials technology, as well as knowledge of the packaging production industry.

“I have gained a lot of typical repro skills from the past, but I was always missing the practical part of the puzzle.”

Because of Ron’s experience with CGS ORIS, Ron chose their FLEX PACK solution as the engine for his business. This included digital printing technology from Roland DG, specially adapted to meet the demand for high colour accuracy, as well as CGS’ specialist software.

“CGS has updated this RIP constantly over the last 8 years to deliver exactly the flexibility I need.”

Getting started with the system was simple enough, but Ron now had to get hands-on and discover the processes that would give him the results he and his customers expected.

“Everything I do is very special, so it was learning by doing – a LOT of learning by doing – almost one year.”

Folded carton packaging printed on holographic card

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Benefits for Customers

Ron’s clients include several agencies and printing companies working with high-profile global food and beverage brands. He spent his first year perfecting processes to create the types of prototypes they would expect, including flexible packaging, folding cartons and shrink sleeves.

The hard work was worth it and absolutely necessary if Ron was going to solve one of the biggest challenges for his customers – the need to create production-quality packaging prototypes in a cost-effective and time-critical manner.

“You need a lot of different tools; you need to invest a lot of money so you can run a prototype on the production press. It costs a lot and you block the machine for one day just to set up a single print job.”

Working with a company like mockupz, ad agencies and printing companies can speed up the prototyping process and cut out a lot of the cost. As well as this, they also gain a lot more flexibility.

“During the layout process, if they can play around with the finishing effects, the substrates and all the design elements before going into the production process, it opens up a lot of possibilities.” 

What the customer ends up with is a colour-accurate prototype, produced on the original substrate and built in the same shape they require.

“Very early on in the process, they have a mock-up in their hands, and the look and feel are the same as the final product.”

Ron Süßmann examining digital print output

Quality and Accuracy

The ability to create a prototype which is identical to the final product is the main requirement for Ron and his customers.

“Speed isn’t important for me – I expect really high quality so it doesn’t matter if it takes a bit longer. In the end I just need perfect quality and that was the reason I decided to buy Roland instead of other printers.” 

Even with the best hardware and software, creating accurate prototypes is a manual process which can require a lot of trial and error, as well as an instinct for working with materials.

“I need to test the substrate first and find the right settings. Every job is different from the last and you need the experience to sort paper in the right range and choose the best setting to start with."

To get the colour accuracy and the high resolution he needs, Ron uses a Roland VersaCAMM VS-300i to print solvent ink onto a transfer film. This gives him a lot of flexibility when it comes to dealing with a wide range of materials.

“I frequently print on the transfer film and I can laminate this coating on different materials. After that, I’m able to print on any material with a solvent printer.”

Folded carton mock-up featuring cold foil detail

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Replicating Special Effects

Simulating spot colours exactly and printing high-definition details are important for creating a winning prototype, but in the world of packaging, it’s also vital to attract the consumer’s attention.

When creating a folding carton at the final production stage, special effects like embossing or varnishing require custom tools. Ron can replicate these effects, and more, using a clear ink printed with a flatbed UV printer from the VersaUV LEC range.

“With embossing effects, I print on the VSi and then I add varnish with the LEC later. I have developed a special technique to achieve the expected register with high accuracy.”

This lets Ron produce simulated embossing and gloss varnish effects which look and feel just like the output from production presses. He also uses this technology in innovative ways to create intricate and detailed foil effects.

“I can print a gloss varnish layer without curing, then I laminate a cold foil onto the varnish layer. When the varnish layer hardens, I can remove the cold foil and with this combination I’m able to add cold foil completely digitally.”

Flexible packaging mockup with white ink and clear window

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Moving Forward

Ron’s first year with mockupz was consumed with the challenge of perfecting his techniques. With the ability to offer folded cartons, flexible packaging, shrink wrapped prototypes and labels to name a few, Ron’s company can answer a broad range of packaging needs.

His relationship with CGS has also continued as he set forth on his new venture and he now frequently cooperates with them to run demos of the CGS ORIS FLEX PACK solution as well as producing customer samples.

He now has his sights set on promoting his unique service, and building relationships with new clients. Ron is now searching for partners to help with his sales and marketing efforts so he can focus on his prototype work.

“My intention is to produce the mock-ups – that’s my main passion.”

Find out more about Ron’s work on the mockupz website.