Complementary Future of Offset, Digital Printing to Be Seen at Drupa
Sheetfed digital printing has developed hugely over the past decade. While major attention has been focussed on the high-productivity presses from HP Indigo, Kodak, Xerox and others, we have seen key developments in the mid-volume and light-production areas. A recent announcement in the light-production space has come with a joint development of a new next-generation printer using proven technologies from Canon and Océ.
We are now seeing additional functionality being added to these presses. This can be with a fifth printing unit for adding the equivalent of a coating or varnish. An example of this can be found in the Xerox 1000 color press where the clear dry ink allows for special effects like spot varnishing and special effects to be added to prints. The Kodak Nexpress also offers a similar functionality.
We are also seeing larger sheet sizes being offered. The Xerox iGen4 EXP handles sheets up to 66 cm in length permitting a wider range of work to be handled on the press. The Kodak Nexpress SX also offers a similar sheet-size capability.
This, however, is only part of the way that digital printing can complement offset printing and enhance the offerings that printers can provide for their customers. The key for the printers building their businesses today is to be able to offer a wide range of integrated services and products, rather than just high-quality printing. This is accomplished by enhancing the workflow to become accessible to a wider range of customers and to become easier to work with.
This approach means using workflow to reach new buyers for whom buying print is a normal procedure, as well as making it easier for print buyers to work with the printer. Apart from the high street quick printer, printing has predominantly been a business-to-business (B2B) operation. Internet-based ordering and workflows combined with digital printing are now making printing a business-to-consumer (B2C) operation.