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Traditionally, the print industry has been slow to adopt change. Analog printing technology has dominated and modernization has occurred at a snail’s pace. However, the most advanced OEMs will tell you that 2014 is the year of innovation. The pace of invention is quickening, and more rapid adoption of digital printing solutions–a part of the revolution already Underway–will empower more businesses to deliver true value and differentiation than ever before.
Digital print page volume will grow by 15.1 percent annually over the next few years, and retail value by more than 5 percent predicts InfoTrends. Brand owners are the driving force behind anticipated growth in digital printing, as well as the Industries’ quickening pace of innovation. These end-users–be they utility companies, magazine publishers or consumer brands that needs specialized labels and packaging–are looking to new ways to use print material and packaging to extend their brand value and create new business opportunities. Digital printing enables this by allowing brands and publishers to print smaller, customized print jobs. It lets them utilize variable data printing at high speeds, lower costs and faster turnaround times, with increased versatility of media. Most importantly, digital printing opens the door to printing on demand. These two key aspects of digital printing-short run print jobs and variable data printing-are critical to understand, for they are driving innovation in the industry and providing unparalleled value for brands.
As industry professionals know, the most cost-effective way to use analog printing is for long-run print jobs. Short runs are just too expensive. This limits brands from doing any type of specialization. In this more traditional and antiquated scenario, printers print once, and as a result, they usually end up printing more than they need. For example, a print job may consist of 1,000 copies of a corporate brochure even though the company only required 100. There was no ability to customize; a brand targeting different geographic locations, such as a real estate company, could not vary its printed material. Without the option to customize content, a more general and therefore potentially less effective messaging was the only option.
The inability to vary is not conducive to realistic business needs. Most industries need to change up their printed material quickly and easily to meet their many needs at one time. A maker of jam, for example, needs to vary its packaging to promote different flavors, expiration dates and the size of a product.