To say the print industry is changing is an euphemism. Today when you say printer people think that you are referring to the little device that sits on their desk at home or in the office that produces beautiful photo quality colour. This is one of the benefits of improving technology. It also means that putting an image on paper can be done by just about anybody easily at the click of a couple of buttons. Of course this is one of the reasons why Kodak is no longer the high flying company that it once was. Digital photography made taking pictures easy, printing them and putting them into a pretty album has become easy too.
As technology makes processes easier adding value for customers becomes more challenging. Add to that the worst recession known to mankind and you have the perfect recipe for major change in industry. The production of paper for print has dropped by 30% over the last 4 years. The Print business’s problems were caused largely by not understanding the internet and its associated revolution of computing and communications, and not adapting to a different collection of marketplaces and decision-makers with new needs and new agendas.
What will happen next? Doing nothing is only an option if you want to go the way of the Dodo. Getting creative with print, and lets face it most people can’t tell how it has been printed these days and they don’t really care as long as it looks good, means that finishing will be where you add value.
Deskilling of the labour force, especially in print, has meant that manufacturers have all had to make machines that are easy to use. I’m happy to say that Duplo have been at the forefront of this drive. Drupa 1995 was when they launched the world’s first self-setting stitcher folder, which could change size fully automatically in less than 60 seconds and was accurate to within 0.2mm. Technology has moved on, especially with the advent of the print run of one. No wastage on set up and fast changeover are a given. More complex tasks are now done without the need for operator intervention. Cutting, slitting and creasing all in one pass, fully automatic set-up from a barcode on the sheet and with image shift recognition. What is more you can integrate folding and skip perfing all in one pass and with zero operator intervention.
Why is this good? Finishing is where you can add value to your image, and when it is your digital press operator doing the finishing as well, you’re adding value at no extra cost. Not convinced? Imagine receiving 25 business cards on an SRA3 sheet and told to cut them yourself? A print that isn’t finished is virtually worthless! And when all Printers have understood this they might stop paying premium prices for the easy bit: printing.
Chairman, Duplo International