The Finish Line

Don has worked in technical support, sales, engineering, and management during a career in both the commercial offset and digital finishing sectors. He is the North American representative for IBIS Bindery Systems, Ltd. of The United Kingdom.

The overall shrinkage of the print market has challenged dealers like never before. A smaller potential customer base forces them to diversify their product lines further, and to try to enter new potential markets. This is far from easy, as (successfully) entering a new market — especially against existing competitors — takes lots of time and money. And this also works against new suppliers trying to enter the U.S. market.

How important is data in digital finishing? It’s critical. You’re probably relating this to the fact that digital is (by its file-based nature) all about variable data. But beyond creating personalized documents and books, there is the larger question of integrating production data into the plant workflow and MIS systems.

I was at the 2017 Inkjet Summit a few weeks ago. As usual, the buzz on inkjet was intense, with many good presentations covering the latest advances in inkjet technology. But the one item that jumped out at me during one of them was that well over 90% of print was still being created by offset technology. Digital print technology accounts for less than 3% of the total print market.

So, why did I title this small piece “bragging rights?” Well, when we (IBIS) attended the awards dinner on Wednesday at our first Inkjet Summit, it turned out that we had been nominated for the best case study in the publishing segment. We didn’t WIN, mind you, but we got a nomination, in company with some of the biggest industry vendors. It was a great way to end our first Inkjet Summit.

I've been in the industry long enough to have witnessed a small parade of attempts to develop universal print-and-finishing interfaces. In the 90’s, there was an effort to develop a common interface among inkjet printers being used on offset finishing lines. In 1999, a much more ambitious effort by the CIP4 consortium led to JDF (Job Definition Format) ... So, where are we now?

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