On-Demand Printing Is Shifting to Inkjet –Michelson

Although the bulk of printed pages are still output on offset presses, litho page output numbers are shrinking overall, whereas short-run digital printing volumes are rising. Toner-based digital output devices have dominated the industry landscape, but it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that inkjet-based digital print production will proliferate in the coming months and years ahead.

And, it’s not just wide-format inkjet printers for signage, displays, etc. High-speed, continuous-feed production inkjet presses—like the InfoPrint 5000 recently installed by Edwards Brothers Malloy, our January cover story profile—are making strong inroads in the book, direct mail and transactional printing markets. Over time, other markets will follow.

Granted, these high-speed inkjet presses are not suited for many print shops. It takes a lot of short-run, often variable, and recurring jobs in the pipeline to justify such a large investment. Some of the initial roadblocks are being removed, though, as paper mills race to meet market demands for a wider range of lower-cost stocks, weights and sizes, and finishing equipment manufacturers work the kinks out of automated solutions that enable high-speed postpress processing.

And, as more B2-format, cutsheet production inkjet press models enter the marketplace, inkjet technology will be a game changer for short-run commercial and packaging work. Although a webfed inkjet press is best suited for higher-volume shops, the eventual, widespread availability of lower cost, sheetfed output devices will help hasten inkjet adoption among small- and medium-sized printing establishments. Over time, they will also displace the dominance of toner-based digital printers due to inkjet’s inherent cost and speed advantages.

Wondering whether inkjet printing capabilities make sense for your business today, or perhaps further down the road? Then be sure to check out our production inkjet printing special report, which begins on page 30 in this issue. There, several of today’s leading digital printing thought leaders discuss the current state of the market and what a printer should consider before taking the plunge into the inkjet pool.

Printing company execs who are really serious about all things inkjet should also consider attending this year’s Inkjet Summit, held April 7-9 in Florida. The educational content and peer-to-peer networking are invaluable. To see if you qualify for the all-expenses-paid trip, e-mail David Pesko at dpesko@ngagevents.com and visit www.ijsummit.com.

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