On-demand Printing–Directions for Digital Output

Across the graphic arts landscape, companies are making on-demand digital printing their vehicle of choice as they hit the road in search of a competitive edge and long-term success. Here, four diverse businesses share their travelers’ tales.

Digital Ink is the brainchild of former architect Jamie Wollens and Josh Weiss, co-founder of the Spectra chain of photo/digital processing labs, who anticipated the growing demand by New Yorkers for high-end prepress and rapid-turnaround printing services—and recognized the potential of digital technologies to fulfill those needs.

In a few years, the operation—which started out with a single color copier for final output—has evolved into a 10,000-square-foot, 26-employee production facility with a range of digital printing equipment, including a Scitex Spontane, an Indigo E-Print 1000+ and Canon color copier-printers, along with Color-Span wide-format printers.

Clients are designers, print brokers, ad agencies and walk-ins, among others. Presently, digital printing represents about a quarter of the company’s overall revenues, with an additional 15 percent to 20 percent derived from large-format output. Scanning and other pre-production services, such as proofing, still comprise the largest piece of the sales pie.

While that business/product mix has proven successful, Wollens anticipates those percentages to shift, with digital printing accounting for as much as half of the company’s revenue by 2000. “We have to keep growing,” he declares. “If film fades as expected, that growth will be in direct-to-press markets.”

Digital Ink bought its first digital printing system, the Spontane, more than two years ago and, Wollens claims, was the initial delivery site for the unit. “The Spontane is much faster than a color copier, its straight paper path lets us run card stock, and the Scitex front end allows us to achieve great color. It’s a color copier on steroids,” he reports.

While not a be-all, end-all digital printing solution for Digital Ink, the Spontane serves its purpose—well. “Spontane output doesn’t have that ‘offset look,’ ” Wollens points out. “But, that said, it still fills a marketplace niche.” A sample job would be same-day turnaround for 200 copies of a 50-page color booklet.

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