Four Ways Inkjet Printing Delivers New Levels of Value
Today’s continuous-feed inkjet printing technology is rivaling web offset printing in many key print application areas. Advances in image quality, imaging area, speed, and range of compatible substrates have expanded print product opportunities. These breakthroughs have elevated the quality and reduced the price points for printing a broader range of applications on continuous-feed inkjet presses.
Commercial printers and in-plants are highly interested in continuous-feed inkjet presses as they are an attractive solution for printing books, folded mailers, magazines, catalogs, brochures, and direct mail postcards that require high-resolution print quality, competitive pricing, and substrate versatility.
A NAPCO Research report, Delivering New Levels of Value with Continuous-Feed Inkjet Printing, highlights the current state of technology capabilities, application opportunities, print customer demands, and investment considerations for print service providers and in-plants.
Key report findings include:
- Enhanced substrates capabilities has expanded print application opportunities. Possibly the most important factor in expanding appeal and the range of applications that can be produced on continuous-feed inkjet presses is ability to print on coated paper. Most brochures and other marketing collateral, as well as folded direct mailers, postcards, catalogs, calendars, magazines, book covers, and some forms of direct mail are printed on coated paper. This breakthrough, along with enhanced image resolution, provide for a wide range of new applications possible on continuous-feed inkjet presses. Expansion into new applications is pushed further with the ability to print on a wide range of stocks – from as low as 40gsm for certain book and publication pages – up to 350gsm used for some types of book covers and direct mail postcards.
- Book publishing benefitting from continuous-feed inkjet printing. Initially, sheetfed digital color toner presses were the only digital printing devices that could print acceptable print quality for book publishers but run length capabilities were limited. Inkjet removes this barrier. Book printers participating in a NAPCO Research survey expect to see significant growth of book production on continuous-feed inkjet devices (Table 1), displacing volume printed on both offset and digital toner devices.
Table 1: Growth in Book Printing Methods
- Demand for short runs and more targeted content is driving the adoption of digital printing for magazines. Similar to books, short runs on magazines are still substantial print runs but are very suitable for continuous-feed inkjet presses. The nature of a magazine is to cater to a specific area of interest which lends itself to the ability to customize and even personalize content. In addition, there is also a greater need for rich color graphics and imagery. As Figure 1 indicates, magazine publishers participating in a NAPCO Research survey report using digital printing to enable all of these elements. High-resolution continuous-feed inkjet presses can address all of these requirements in addition to delivering a cost-effective printing method for both short runs and longer runs with greater customization. While the other factors in Figure 1 related to personalization and customization are not used as commonly, they are worth mentioning as they represent areas of opportunity enabled through digital printing.
Figure 1: Reasons Magazine Publishers Leverage Digital Printing
- Continuous-feed inkjet presses are now an attractive solution for commercial printers, direct mail printers, in-plants, and publishing printing specialists and offer a cost-effective and viable platform for new applications and capabilities. Investment in continuous-feed inkjet is critical for print providers to stay relevant and develop new application-based business models that support short turnaround times and personalization, while still maintaining superior image quality and competitive pricing.
The report also recommends that print service providers planning to invest in continuous-feed inkjet assess the following considerations:
- The need for new equipment
- Your firm’s financial state
- Expected print volume
- Return on investment (ROI)
- Operations and sales staff adaptability
Lisa Cross is the principal analyst of NAPCO Research (a unit of NAPCO Media) where she conducts market research and analysis on emerging trends and changing dynamics in the commercial, in-plant and packaging industries, and the market forces that are driving those changes. With decades of experience covering the graphic arts and marketing industries, Cross has authored thousands of articles on a variety of topics, including technology trends, business strategy, sales, marketing and legislation.