Inkjet Summit Opens with Review of Opportunities Ripe for Grasping
What print technology is enjoying double-digit growth while it enables mass customization and changes the entire print business model? Asked at the opening session of the 2018 Inkjet Summit, the question had what may have seemed to be an obvious answer. But keynote speaker and conference chair Marco Boer (I.T. Strategies) wanted the event’s hand-picked audience to be completely clear about why the rise of production inkjet has been so remarkable and what its growth portends for the industry over the next few years.
According to Boer, inkjet is coming into its own at a time when the commercial print segment is undergoing a profound structural change because of worsening labor shortages, a “precipitous drop” in revenues and profits, and what are probably permanent changes in the way people consume and buy print. The good news, he said, is that inkjet can help to remedy all of these ills with its automated productivity and its broadly acceptable print quality.
Traditionally, said Boer, printers tried to compete by selling the highest quality output at the lowest price: a formula that no longer works well in print markets where fast delivery and ROI-producing results are the paramount requirements. What inkjet makes possible is a model in which price is determined not by quality but by the value that data in the form of personalization adds to the printed piece.
Boer acknowledged that adapting to this new model will be a difficult shift for the industry to make. But, he contended that printers who grasp what is happening are showing it by investing in inkjet and the benefits it can bring.
Inkjet’s increasing acceptance is seen in the fact that last year, riding the momentum of a 66% CAGR since 2008, the process was responsible for producing 300 billion pages. Technical advancements in productivity and substrate compatibility are helping inkjet stay ahead of a market whose motto is “data driven everything” and whose consumers have intensifying appetites for “more relevant things” in printed form.
The market areas in which Boer forecast strongest growth include direct mail, books and graphic arts applications where inkjet achieves good results on offset stocks. Applications that blend data and graphics - for example, personalized prospectuses from insurance companies - are other natural uses for the process.
Boer wasn’t predicting the abandonment of offset lithography in a mad rush to inkjet: the conventional printing method still accounts for 95% of all pages produced and sits on a base that is simply too large to be replaced by anything else. But he said that because of all the advantages inkjet can bring, movement toward it will be “unstoppable” in the applications where those advantages are the most obvious.
Boer urged attendees at the Inkjet Summit - a three-day (April 9-11), invitation-only symposium for print company owners who have invested or are considering investing in production inkjet - to make the most of their opportunity by asking questions, sharing experiences, and finding their own answers to the question of how inkjet can be transformative for their companies.
“Inkjet technology is proven,” he assured them, “and people are making money with it.”