Print’s Future Is in Good Hands
A few weeks ago in this space, I mentioned that I was headed back to my alma mater, Western Michigan University (WMU), to speak at its annual Litho Day event. Litho Day is a wonderful collaboration between education and industry, during which industry trends and technology are shared and, hopefully, students are inspired to join our important and evolving industry.
WMU’s Department of Paper Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Imaging, in concert with the Ann Arbor Litho Club (AALC), hosts the event each year. The Graphic Arts Memorial Foundation, together with AALC, has done an admirable job promoting and supporting future printing leaders by distributing more than $500,000 in scholarships.
This year, the theme of Litho Day was, “The Marriage of Offset and Digital.” I had been asked to speak on the mashup of the two technologies. As an indication of just how far digital has blurred the lines in the print production environment, it has co-opted a day formerly dedicated to lithography at WMU. The lithographers among us may view this with dismay, but then again, we all need to embrace the inevitability of change in our business…for we know what happens to industries that refuse to change.
Indeed, all the book printers in attendance either already have inkjet presses or are seriously considering acquiring one for short-run work. Of course, the usual debates about quality and breakeven cost points compared with offset ensued. In this case, marriage seemed more like cohabitation—partners with separate bedrooms, or at best, MAYBE a hookup!
Enough of the coquetry.
Coming from the direct marketing marketspace, I had been invited to speak about the kind of digital/offset marriage that SPC has pioneered. Last year, we were at the forefront of the commercialization of the capability to combine high-volume web offset printing with the variability of inline, four-color inkjet printing, which we like call 4CHI—short for 4-Color Hybrid Imaging.