Production Inkjet Printing: Ready for Prime-Time for Commercial, Package Printers?
After a printer has expended $2 million on an inkjet press, the investments are only just the beginning, according to Boer. "You probably have to sink another million or two into setting up a good workflow/software system, to be able to harness that nicely relevant data," he says. "Then, you have to change the sales process; gain more trust from your customers because you're handling their most sensitive data. It's really a journey where all the players in the ecosystem, ranging from the printer vendor to the guy that supplies relevant data, have to become more trusting with each other and experiment on some things."
Production inkjet has fast become the book printing sector's best friend. The popular notion, a misconception, is that the printing of books is attritioning due to the emergence of e-books, when in reality the electronic tome only accounts for 20 percent to 30 percent of publisher revenue. It is the long-run offset jobs that are actually taking a beating. Many of the larger U.S. book printers have invested heavily in high-speed inkjet presses.
Self-publishing is a driver of the short-run market, fueled by the retiring baby boomer generation, Boer says. Their hard copy run lengths number in the 200 to 300 range, which is in the production inkjet wheelhouse. It has also spawned a small group of non-traditional book manufacturers addressing the short-run needs of self-publishers. Sheetfed inkjet is the prime candidate to take care of a print run of a scant few copies.
Volume is the name of the game, and I.T. Strategies' research indicates that five million pages per month is the tipping point for production inkjet justification. From the book perspective, filling capacity can be hit and miss for seasonal work like educational printing, which goes dry during the first quarter of the calendar year.