From Baby Steps to Mainstream Process
Similar to the early developmental stages of a child, the annual Inkjet Summit, which first launched in April 2013, has chronicled the growing pains experienced by the first wave of production inkjet printing adopters — printers who often found themselves feeling the teething pains caused by unacceptable inkjet press downtime rates, customer quality concerns, and the lack of suitable inkjet-compatible paper options and finishing solutions. Each passing year since 2013, though, inkjet print production has matured and pain points have subsided.
Ongoing R&D developments such as improved inkjet heads, better inksets, more and lower-cost substrate options, finishing advancements and the like have advanced market adoption and extended inkjet printing’s range of suitable applications. What a difference five years makes.
As summarized in our Inkjet Summit 2017 conference coverage covered in the June issue of Printing Impressions, production inkjet printing has reached prime time — and the large percentage of non-adopters among the more than 130 printers who attended this year’s event in April went home with a greater sense of urgency to take the plunge. Or, at the very least, they left focused on monitoring how inkjet technologies will impact the verticals they serve, the markets they’d like to enter and if competitors with inkjet capabilities will be able to leapfrog them.
Our special post-conference section is also filled with key takeaways from current users, industry experts and leading suppliers. Takeaways range from overall production inkjet market observations to specific trends and current developments for direct mail, general commercial printing, transaction and publishing applications.
One trend that stood out for me was the advanced IT and data management and analytics skill sets needed today for a printer to be successful with most inkjet applications. Arna Marketing Group — our cover story — is a perfect example of a print shop that’s thriving based on its prowess in providing IT and data-driven solutions.
As Arna President Steven Hegna so wisely said, any printer can install an inkjet press, but your staff’s technical expertise and stong internal processes are key to being able to derive full value from it. Perhaps a not so subtle reminder that, in the end, people skills and strict protocols still trump technology — especially when it comes to production inkjet.