Moving to Digital Printing on Your Own Terms
Today’s printed communications are changing. Consumers who receive targeted messages online now expect that same level of personalization from their printed communications. As a result, printers must ensure they can produce targeted, relevant materials that have the same look and feel as other forms of communications.
How can printers take on inkjet printing without having to make substantial investments in both capital equipment, and in the skills to leverage that equipment? Today’s retrofit inkjet printing solutions provide the answer.
The inkjet opportunity
A market study conducted by Smithers Pira, entitled “The Future of Digital Printing to 2024,” shows the fast pace at which digital print is growing. In 2013, the global digital print market was worth $120.9 billion. By 2024, the total digital market will reach 225% of that value.
The driving force behind this growth is the demand for more personalized communications, and ever-shorter offset runs. Digital inkjet printing solutions allow printers to economically produce the short runs that come with the versioning and personalization included in some of these printed communications.
By producing these targeted communications, printers can expand the range of services they offer to customers, and attract new business opportunities that provide greater revenue potential.
The challenges of change
Though inkjet printing can enhance printers’ operations, many have been slow to adopt these solutions. While offset printing can be the best solution for long print runs, inkjet is more suitable for printers who produce short runs and variable printing.
As a result, it is not easy for printers to shift their business models to accommodate the demand for short-run jobs.
Another factor affecting the adoption of inkjet is the expenditure it requires. New presses are expensive, and require a significant outlay of capital. If printers invest in an inkjet press, they then need to retrain staff members: employees need to change from performing trade-focused roles to operating a digital process, and salespeople must engage in new sales conversations to quickly fill the machine and achieve the expected ROI.
Inkjet printing also requires a physical and electronic workflow that is different from an analog workflow. Tasks like color management, automatic job queuing, and even specialized document finishing differ from their counterparts in an analog workflow.
Moreover, the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that printers have with their customers will undergo significant changes. Customers will expect very quick turnarounds, putting a new kind of burden on plant logistics.
What is a retrofit press?
A retrofit press can give printers many of the benefits of inkjet, while reducing the costs, risks, and challenges that can come with adopting a stand-alone inkjet press.
But what is a retrofit press?
A “retrofit” printing system entails adding an inkjet-powered print engine onto an existing analog printing press. This combined use of inkjet and analog production processes within one printing system is often referred to as “hybrid printing.”
This combined system gives printers much greater production efficiency and flexibility than purchasing a stand-alone inkjet press. The printer can choose the right printing method to suit the job at hand—offset for long runs, digital for short runs, or a mixture of both.
For example, when printers choose to retrofit an offset press, they can also leverage the on-board finishing tools of the existing press, instead of purchasing all new finishing equipment. Retrofitting an existing asset also lets printers utilize much of their existing workflow and processes.
A printer’s existing team of employees can often operate the retrofit press. With minimal training, press operators and other skilled personnel can run hybrid print jobs on these retrofit presses.
Printers can use the inkjet engines of their retrofit press to produce high-quality, full-color digital printing with near-offset quality.
This enhanced quality comes from the inkjet technology developed by Memjet (Booth 3822). The Memjet-powered engines use water-based inks to create some of the smallest droplets of ink used in any inkjet printing process. This level of quality gives printers more options during the production process.
New business opportunities
Retrofit solutions provide a level of flexibility that gives printers the resources they need to better meet the demands of their existing customers, while opening up time and resources for new business.
Because inkjet printing doesn’t require films, plates, or color checks, retrofit solutions can eliminate the bottlenecks that come from setting up an offset press. Less setup time reduces waste and increases press capacity, which allows printers to print more orders and make more money.
In addition, the enhanced flexibility of retrofit solutions gives the printer’s sales team a larger portfolio of solutions to present to prospects and customers. Whether it is a small run of personalized direct mail, a large run of full-color brochures, or a catalog that mixes both personalized messages and large print quantities, the retrofit solution can meet the demand.