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Inkjet Presses Drive New Business for Commercial Printers

July 1, 2011 By George Promis, InfoPrint Solutions
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For years, commercial print shops were limited in the output services they could offer based on what their presses could efficiently produce. But now, digital production inkjet technology enables printers to handle jobs that require more than just high speeds and high quality. Using digital inkjet systems, printers can cost effectively produce short run jobs, minimizing set-up time and waste while reducing turnaround time and costs for clients. The ongoing advancements in digital inkjet output quality, configuration flexibility and reliability enables businesses to achieve significant operational efficiencies and open up new revenue and application opportunities.

The Reason for the Season

Inkjet systems are rapidly becoming the technology of choice for commercial printers that are evaluating their output environments. These systems can produce monochrome, MICR or color jobs, with fixed or variable content, on a range of stocks based on application requirements. As a result, we are seeing inkjet technology re-energize the printing industry as it enables printers to offer a variety of more innovative and cost-effective document solutions and applications to meet their clients’ needs.

While the industry continues to embrace the proliferation of color inkjet systems beyond the initial expectations, there is a substantial volume of applications for which monochrome is the appropriate solution. And what we are seeing today is the existence of monochrome inkjet platforms that are optimized for a seamless future transition to color—something that was not readily available when inkjet technology first entered the market.

Finding New Opportunities

The increased flexibility and reliability of inkjet configurations has enabled companies to expand the range of applications that can be delivered, opening up new revenue channels.

For commercial printers, this can be especially true and has been a particularly great opportunity for one such company we’ve worked with recently, Frederic Printing, a Consolidated Graphics company. Frederic is making the shift to inkjet to provide more flexible, reliable and versatile application support, especially in the short-run production of textbooks and election ballots. By taking advantage of versatile inkjet technology, it has been able to diversify its offerings to create new business opportunities, specifically in the print-on-demand (POD) book area.

The need to cost-effectively support short print runs is becoming more crucial, as printers make the shift from offset to digital. Performance, service, support, flexibility to meet customer requirements and investment protection all need to be considered in any purchase decision. It’s also important to evaluate these factors alongside how the technology supports your current and future business goals, to ensure you make the most of your environment.

Not All Inkjet Systems are Created Equal

Whereas 10 years ago there was one supplier of production digital inkjet systems, today there are many vendors offering a plethora of features and functions. When making a purchase decision, it is critical that printers determine which elements will have the greatest impact on their ability to optimize system utilization and profit. Many businesses see productivity (job to job, shift to shift) as a key differentiator as they evaluate their inkjet solution options. Among the most frequently mentioned key requirements are:
  • simple set-up,
  • low paper waste,
  • few operator tasks with negligible time required to perform those,
  • high processing performance for complex jobs with variable data, and
  • quick changes of paper types and sizes, with minimal re-calibration.

Ink management tools—such as job estimating, real-time ink usage tracking and sophisticated automated ink reduction techniques—are also key functions that impact productivity and business management.

The advances in inkjet technology have given businesses new choices to revamp, renew and restore the printing environment through more flexible and versatile offerings and applications. If you haven’t already, find some time now to take stock of the offerings in the market to see what platform best suits your business needs today—and where your organization would like to take it tomorrow.
 
About the Author
George Promis is the vice president of Continuous Forms Production Solutions and Technology Alliances at InfoPrint Solutions. For more information, visit www.infoprint.com.
 
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