drupa 2012 : Something for Everyone
The Skinny On: Inkjet is really jumping, and it's going to come at us harder and faster. We're going to see a lot of that at drupa, as well as Asian companies we've never heard offering cutsheet and continuous-feed systems for inkjet printing. How they play out in the market over the next few years is going to take a while to find out; it's not readily apparent how some of this stuff will really work.
Exciting Stuff: I'm hearing rumblings about some cutsheet, really high-speed inkjet coming out of China. Smaller stuff, at the copier level, a 14x18˝ sheet or something like that. That could get a lot of attention if the quality's there. Nothing's new in toner. HP will have something that's evolutionary. They're going to have a wider sheet, bigger-sized Indigo. We also might see surprises in the kind of applications where we don't normally focus on with digital, like in packaging, which has a lot of room to grow. That's why companies like Xeikon are focusing on it. That area is largely untouched by digital printing.
Don't Forget: There's momentum toward "good-enough" print quality. The customer walks away happy, pays the bill and comes back again. It doesn't matter what device the job comes off of, as long as it satisfies the end customer's requirements. Print quality is not the issue it once was. For about 10 years, people were saying digital is OK, unless you compare it to offset printing.
Now, the digital presses are pretty good (quality) and the customers don't care as much. A graphic designer will still hold your feet to the fire and say, "Oh no, it still has to look like it came off an eight-color Heidelberg." But, you don't see many people looking at samples with a loupe anymore. Good-enough quality will work for a lot of applications. PI