Production Inkjet Printing Community Will Unite, Discuss Trends at 2023 Inkjet Summit
It can be argued that no single industry event has done more to educate printing professionals about the inherent advantages production inkjet printing provides than the annual Inkjet Summit. Now in its 11th year, the invitation-only conference will once again host approximately 125 senior-level commercial, book, direct mail, transaction, and in-plant printing executives and managers at the Hyatt Lost Pines in Austin, Texas, April 24-26.
Aside from enabling valuable peer-to-peer interaction, the Inkjet Summit provides access to key industry suppliers that each play a critical role in the make-up of a successful, end-to-end, production inkjet printing solution. This includes active participation by all of the major inkjet printing press, pre/postpress auxiliary equipment, workflow and variable data software, and paper suppliers. As in past years, a key focus of the program will be highlighting the inherent benefits of production inkjet printing and how to deploy those benefits, while generating greater profits and new revenue streams.
“The challenges and opportunities facing print providers continue to confound us,” Marco Boer, VP of IT Strategies, and the long-time Inkjet Summit conference chair, points out. “The paper challenges remain quite clear; but a bigger issue now is proving the worth of print during this inflationary period. As an industry, we must focus daily on proving that document printing serves a powerful communication role — and what better tool to use than production inkjet printing technology?”
Conversion of Offset to Inkjet Pages
One industry trend that will take center stage during this year’s conference is the offset to inkjet conversion taking place in several market segments. The shift is being driven, in part, due to supply chain shortages; rising labor costs; and evolving print buying habits to more shorter-run, highly targeted, and data-driven models.
“We had been taking about shifting from offset to digital printing for years, and it never really happened, for a couple of reasons,” Boer contends. “Number one, the digital toner machines that led the way, frankly, just weren’t productive enough. They produced beautiful quality, but you couldn’t buy enough of them to make the transition of offset to digital pages.
“Then inkjet technology came along. It was far more productive, and the quality has stepped up several notches since the original introductions of these devices,” he adds. “And now we’re within reach of being able to replace some of those offset pages.
At the same time, Boer says expensive paper and raw material costs, in combination with the difficulty to find skilled labor, are causing offset volumes to begin to plummet. As offset volumes come down and inkjet goes up, all of a sudden the ratio of pages printed inkjet versus those printed offset is beginning to grow very quickly. “I think 2023 is really the beginning of that transition from offset pages to digitally printed pages,” Boer predicts.
Commercial Printers Embrace Cut-Sheet Inkjet
Another trend that will permeate this year’s conference is the growing adoption rates of inkjet printing among commercial printers. While book, direct mail, and transaction printing applications dominated the production inkjet market for many years, the value of proposition and ROI of today’s ever-improving range of cut-sheet inkjet press offerings has become more compelling.
Their quality levels now match offset output, cut-sheet presses are productive due to their extremely high press uptime rates, and the devices can handle a wider range of substrates, included glossy stocks.
Interestingly, some commercial printers who have already installed cut-sheet inkjet devices are now exploring the purchase of continuous-feed models as the next step in their digital conversions.
Those print providers lucky enough to attend this year’s Inkjet Summit won’t be disappointed, despite the busy schedules they will be encountering throughout the event. As Boer quips, attending the Inkjet Summit conference is akin to receiving an Executive MBA in Inkjet Printing — all in just the 2½ days time spent out of the office.
(Note: There are still limited seats available for qualified printer attendees to be invited as a hosted guest at this year's Inkjet Summit in April. Visit ijsummit.com and click at the Attend tab in order to fill out a brief interest form as the first step — to be considered both as a hosted printer attendee for this year's event as well as consideration for attending the 2024 Inkjet Summit.)
Related story: What Makes the Inkjet Summit So Unique, and How a Printer Can Qualify to Attend
Mark Michelson is the Editor-in-Chief of Printing Impressions. Serving in this role since 1985, Michelson is an award-winning journalist and member of several industry honor societies. Reader feedback is always encouraged. Email email@example.com