AV - Digital Printing

Digital Printing…When to Invest

There has been a huge push towards digital printing over the last two years that has us wondering a couple of things: Is this trend here to stay and, is this technology fact or fiction? If we recognize that digital printing is here to stay and this technology is reliable, then a number of other questions surface. Is inkjet or toner right for our customers? Do we invest a little or a lot? Do we need a digital front end ERP? And last but not least, how do we measure the return on investment?

With all of these questions raised, breaking things down into bite-sized nuggets is a good place to start for an overall understanding. In the future, we will see print shops having several digital print solutions along with a CTP solution. We can circle back to this notion and why this will be.

Trending, Fact or Fiction. As explained in my article on Extended Gamut published in the November 2014 issue of Flexo magazine, we all agree shorter runs are here to stay. But will that change capacity or the volume of printed pieces? Typically, the answer is no. There are more variety/variations. With digital print, designs can be more complex, including variable data for personalized attention, lot numbers, etc. Do we change the way we bill press time with job costs tied to running feet since there are no analog materials or labor associated with the task as with analog?

A good example of context. There was a nationwide “soda” project using people’s names that illustrates the power of what digital print can mean to consumer package goods and the customer. The majority of us couldn’t help but stop to see if soda products had our name, or the names of our children, relatives, and friends. There were stories of people on quests to find cans with their name, and some bought cans to be passed out as gifts. Boy, did we drink the Kool-Aid.

This project included dozens of suppliers, with even more digital presses to meet the objectives. Without a digital print solution, this campaign would not have been economically or logistically possible. Just think of the press changes, make-ready, waste, and labor!

To read the balance of Lee’s thoughts on “Digital Printing…when to invest”, refer to his article published in the January 2015 issue of Flexo magazine

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