A Decade of Change
In less than a decade, inkjet has completely transformed the print industry—and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, notes NPES (Booth 3255) Chairman, Malkon (Mal) Baboyian, Executive VP, Canon Solutions America, Inc. (Booth 1213). “The continued advancement of inkjet is one of the biggest trends in the market,” he says. “Go back to 2008—when our company entered with inkjet, we would say, it’s interesting. Not as good as offset, but it can work for some applications. Back in 2008, the quality of inkjet was not anywhere near what it is today. But suddenly, nine years later, it’s incredible. I never dreamed we would be saying inkjet technology not only matches offset, but in some cases has a wider color gamut.”
That quality and color, combined with the ability to print variable pieces, has changed the way high-end commercial print is viewed, and has changed the landscape for what is and isn’t possible with print. The printing industry, says Baboyian, has more choices than ever before, and it’s an exciting time to be in the market.
But inkjet isn’t the only big change. Right now packaging and wide-format are other big areas he is seeing a much greater interest in from commercial printers across the board. “Commercial printers are trying to find new revenue streams,” he stresses. “Packaging is one of those they’re moving toward, be it flexible or carton. One of the other areas is the wide-format and signage arena—both roll fed and flatbed. A commercial printer who used to be offset is moving into all of these new revenue streams.”
What should the printer seeking new opportunities for growth look for at PRINT 17 this year? The possibilities, says Baboyian, are as varied as printers themselves. “They are going to have a lot of choices this year; there are more vendors, with more solutions than ever before. The other thing they should be looking for beyond technology is advancements in workflow—quite frankly, oftentimes successful implementation of workflow can be a bigger profit maker than equipment itself. Also, learning more about multi-channel marketing is going to be big this year. PRINT 17 will offer panel, roundtable, and workshop discussions on a wide range of subjects, so it shouldn’t just be about products, but also about learning.”
PRINT 17, he says, is also about the people, and connecting and sharing ideas with industry peers from across the industry. That, in and of itself, is one of the most valuable parts of the show, he believes. “Every year, that ability to really engage with your peers, with your customers, with the press and analysts… it’s a gathering place for the entire print community. It is exciting to see so many people you only see once a year, but also to learn from them. And this year what we’ve done is develop programs designed around feedback—we spent a lot of time surveying the print industry as to what they were looking for. You’re also going to see vendors responding to those kind of surveys, developing booths, solutions, and presentations around those concepts. Feedback from industry is driving what will be shown this year, and that is pretty exciting.
“The number one take-away that attendees are going to see is that technology can enhance their business,” he continues. “Both today and also in the future. Do that by seeing products and technology, attending workshops and panels, and understanding what others are doing to be successful. I really do believe the print industry has a bright future; I have never seen it change as fast as it is today. I hope every attendee takes away that message.”
Toni McQuilken has been writing and editing for more than a decade. Her work includes B2B publications – both in print and online – in a range of industries, such as print and graphics, technology, hospitality and automotive; as well as behind the scenes writing and editing for multiple companies, helping them craft marketing materials, write press releases and more. She is a self-proclaimed "tech geek" who loves all things technology, and she knows that she is one of a select group of people who get to do what they love for a living.