Inkjet Adoption: Not If, But When
It’s hard to believe that we wrapped up the fourth edition of the annual Inkjet Summit in April. (Coverage begins on page 24 in this issue.) For those who may not be aware, the Inkjet Summit is a hosted buyer event that unites pre-qualified printers who are serious about adding — or expanding their existing footprint in — production inkjet printing with the leading equipment, software and consumables suppliers that can get them there.
The more than 100 printer attendees at Inkjet Summit 2016 learned from expert presenters, several existing user panel discussions and case history presentations. Breakout sessions on how inkjet technology is being implemented within the book, direct mail, transactional and commercial printing markets were also held to foster a more application-focused discussion. And, like at past Inkjet Summits, peer-to-peer networking among printer attendees was encouraged, enabling unique opportunities for those attendees who have yet to adopt inkjet to hear real-life, unfiltered commentary from industry peers who already have.
The dialogue among printers attending this year’s event has shifted. Discussion no longer centered around whether inkjet adoption makes economic sense in the first place; for many shops, it comes down to analyzing the right time to pull the trigger. Quality concerns over inkjet output versus that of offset and digital toner are also waning. And so too is hesitation about suitable substrates to run on high-speed inkjet presses, as paper mills continue to work hard to bring more compatible grades to market and inkjet press manufacturers scramble to certify their usage. Better inksets are also being developed, as are digital finishing equipment offerings that can keep pace with rated press speeds.
In fact, as Inkjet Summit conference chair Marco Boer pointed out to this year’s attendees, the early inkjet adopter stage has now passed and it’s foolish to delay market entry solely based on the desire for inkjet models with lower price entry points. Waiting to invest puts a printing company at a distinct disadvantage to competitors that have already embraced inkjet. That’s because they’ve already worked through the critical learning curve, workflow and cultural changes that inkjet adoption requires. New cut-sheet models entering the market change the game even more, bringing inkjet further downstream into the mainstream commercial printing space. What’s your game plan? PI