Inkjet Set to Rock The Printing World –MichelsonJune 2013 By Mark Michelson
One of my biggest takeaways after attending the recent Inkjet Summit 2013 was the consensus among printer attendees, leading consultants and participating industry suppliers alike that inkjet production printing will be a disruptive technology. Its emergence—now mostly continuous-feed offerings, but with a plethora of new cut-sheet devices in the pipeline—will be a real game changer for our industry.
The inaugural Inkjet Summit was a first-of-its-kind conference model for the printing industry. Pre-qualified printing executives received an all-expense-paid trip to a five-star resort hotel outside Jacksonville, FL, where they spent three days immersed in educational sessions led by top consultants, interacted with user panels featuring printers who are already running inkjet presses and met privately with leading suppliers. The heavy focus on educational sessions and peer-to-peer networking proved to be a winning combination.
As discussed within the breakout tracks, digital inkjet adoption is now altering the landscape mainly in the book, direct mail and transactional printing segments. But newspapers, catalogs and commercial applications like collateral, manuals, directories, newsletters and many more printed products will soon start migrating to inkjet.
Inkjet press adoption will also cause upheaval within the current digital and lithographic press markets. Inkjet's lower cost per page and higher output speed advantages will threaten current usage, and future market demand, for toner-based digital machines. And—just how the adoption of electrophotographic digital devices impacted analog presses—ongoing quality improvements in color inkjet output will supplant some of the short- and mid-run jobs once produced on offset presses.
That doesn't mean to say there still aren't many challenges with inkjet printing. As our special Inkjet Summit section (see page 24) in this issue details, buyer beware when taking your first plunge into high-speed inkjet print production. Do you have a steady flow of suitable work? Even then, choosing a digital engine provider is just one decision. Overall workflow issues, including pre- and post-press considerations; the selection of proper substrates; and the need for training are just a few key considerations to help your shop hit the ground running. See our Inkjet Summit review for tips on making your journey a smooth one.