5 Truths: What You Need to Know About Production Inkjet Printing
Whether your printing business has already adopted production inkjet printing capabilities — or is still sitting on the sidelines waiting for the technology to further mature — there is no denying that color and monochrome inkjet printing is rapidly displacing toner-based digital printing and also chipping away at conventional output. Inkjet page growth is exploding as more and more devices are installed, and the momentum will only continue to accelerate. In fact, inkjet technology is projected to account for 60% of all digital pages printed by 2019.
As exemplified at the recent Inkjet Summit 2017 — which was attended by current inkjet press users and non-adopters alike — 5 Key Takeaways rose to the top about the current state of inkjet printing technology, why a printer shouldn't hold off and let your competitors leapfrog them, and how inkjet adoption will impact your overall business:
- Don’t fear obsolescence. Always high on the list of objections to adopting a new printing technology is the worry that a device purchased today will be uncompetitive with systems coming to market six months or a year from now. A production inkjet press takes that pain point away by being upgradeable in place with new software and expanded inkjet head arrays. The forward compatibility of production inkjet equipment makes it a “relatively risk-free” investment in terms of its useful life, noted Inkjet Summit conference chair Marco Boer.
- Be prepared to overhaul your business model. As one speaker put it, in embracing production inkjet, “the press is the easy part.” Everything else changes to accommodate the new capability: workflow, internal processes, quality benchmarks, customer relationships and more. The model evolves into one of selling outcomes and ROI instead of price per piece — a shift in thinking that will take patience and determination to accomplish.
- Master the data. Production inkjet presses run on it, and products printed on the devices have to deliver data to end users in ways that assure an ROI. This is why data management has become a “table stakes” capability for printers who want to succeed with the new process. It also explains why printers with production inkjet presses are as eager to hire IT specialists as they are to find qualified digital press operators.
- Pay careful attention to the paper. It’s referred to as the “fifth color” of conventional printing, but paper is the first color of what takes place on an inkjet press because of the different and sometimes unpredictable ways in which it interacts with water-based inkjet inks. Despite what the OEMs or the mills may say, paper stocks don’t perform identically from press type to press type. Therefore, continuous linearization and testing of substrates are musts.
- Get over the higher cost of inkjet ink. As “engineered” printing fluids, inkjet inks can’t be priced at par with traditional litho inks. Nor should they be. The cost justification is in their value-adding special properties and the highly cost-efficient form of production that printing with them enables. In this sense, inkjet ink is an investment, not a cash drain.
One valuable tool that can help current inkjet users, as well as those who have yet to invest, is a new, 40-page "Inkjet Impressions" Inkjet Buyers Guide, which was just published by Printing Impressions. It features helpful specifications on all of the cut-sheet and continuous-feed inkjet presses available today, specifications on inkjet-suitable papers, a complete rundown on in-line and near-line finishing options, as well as info on current software offerings. The special report also features several helpful articles that provide expert advice on topics such as justifying an inkjet investment, how paper manufacturers are responding to market demands, and even what questions to ask a finishing equipment provider before you buy.
Download this free special report by clicking here.