The Deregulation Of the Digital Press
Specialization of digital printing services is the mandate progressive commercial printers are now following as they consider the logic, given the corporate agenda for each particular printing operation, of evolving into areas of on-demand, short-run digital printing. Today, digital presses come in enough flavors for all commercial printers to step back, evaluate the short-run potential of their operation and say: "Is it time? Am I ready to be a digital print provider?" More and more, the answer is: "Yes."
"The power of digital also means the power of specialization—there is no longer a feeling of 'one size fits all' when it comes to on-demand digital printing," reports Doug Clott, North American sales and marketing director for Karat Digital Press, a joint venture.
"Now, people are buying large-format ink-jet printers for their posters and advanced color copiers and electrostatic digital printing presses for short, and even longer, runs. People are buying direct imaging offset presses for a variety of automated functionality and longer run performance," he says. "The flood gates are open; digital printing has hit."
Certainly, Karat has made some recent gains. Karat Digital Press installed its first press in the United States recently at EMR Systems Communication, a high-end digital prepress shop and general commercial printer in New York. The 74 Karat digitally integrated offset press was delivered to EMR in November. EMR intends to use the 74 Karat to run more short- and medium-run work per shift than its current, conventional offset press—with considerably less operator effort. The 74 Karat press employs waterless printing to eliminate the complicated ink-water balance of traditional offset printing.
The 74 Karat press produces jobs with a maximum format of four full-bleed pages at up to 10,000 sph, handling a full range of paper qualities and weights. The more "traditional" Karat offset digital press, Clott says, offers an alternative to the field of electrostatic digital printing devices (Chromapress, Indigo, Xeikon, as examples) that push value-added printing, such as variable data, to the digital printing community.