DIRECT IMAGING PRESSES — DISCIPLES OF DI
Interest in DI was relatively flat prior to DRUPA 2004, when several new DI technologies were announced. It is these new product developments and continued growth in high quality, short-run color that have created increased momentum behind the DI press. The owners I spoke with had some terrific business growth stories to tell in an industry that often hears too much doom and gloom about its future prospects.
As a backdrop for these user stories, it is worthwhile to examine the common themes they cited and the decision criteria that drove their buying decisions. All are businesses that are well on their way to making their digital future a reality. In speaking with owners, I found two different scenarios for adding a DI press.
Some smaller printers needed to migrate from two-color to four-color printing to keep up with customer demand and to open new markets for themselves. They found that it was no longer possible to competitively produce four-color jobs on a two-color press, but they were concerned about purchasing a conventional offset press and platesetter due to the complexity of the process and, in some cases, the space requirements.
Others had invested in toner-based digital presses and conventional offset, but found that there was an opportunity gap in the 250 to 10,000 run length range that was not being met. These firms installed a DI press to take advantage of this growing market segment.
A direct imaging press is a four-color, highly automated digital offset press that images all four plates simultaneously on-press, eliminating the need for a plate-setter. The majority—more than 90 percent—of the DI presses on the market are enabled with Presstek technology, the company that originally invented the process. Other active players in the market include Screen (TruePress) and KBA (Karat).