features 7 511 Extended Possibility UHV Presses 7 9 11 Back to Good The Print Industry Invests in Automation
departments Editor's Letter ............................. Performance Report: 2023
News Beat ......................................................................................... 5 Current Industry News Showtime ............................. ............................................................. 6 Printing United Recap Best Practices ............ ....................... Fit Functionalities
Advertiser Index ........ ............................................................ ...... 18 Companies Mentioned ................................................................ 18
On the cover: The KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press creates high-quality prints comparable to those printed using KODAK SONORA Process Free Plates. See page 15.
November 2023 II dps II 3
dpsmagazine.com Volume 25, Number 7 • ISSN: 1529-2320
Performance Report: 2023 We came into 2023 with cautious optimism that concerns like supply chain issues and economic uncertainty would resolve. While to some extent they did, labor challenges are still prevalent and only predicted to get worse. Political unrest leads to ongoing supply chain issues and inflation.
…if you choose to look at the silver lining—it’s digital. With digital print and finishing technologies the industry is more nimble and sustainable, providing just-in-time or on demand print services that can also be personalized. However, if you choose to look at the silver lining—it’s digital. With digital print and finishing technologies the industry is more nimble and sustainable, providing just-in-time or on demand print services that can also be personalized. Read more about the industry trends that stood out in 2023 in Back to Good. The rest of this issue is dedicated to some of the hottest technologies of the year. One is inkjet. Continued development in ultra high speed inkjet—which we classify as solutions with the capacity to produce ten-plus million impressions per month—lead to new applications. Read more in Extended Possibilities. Workflow and packaging are trending topics. Advancements in technology allow tasks like project management, digital proofing, and asset management to integrate into one solution versus stitched together from separate systems. We look at packaging workflow in Fit Functionalities. Also find a recap of the recent PRINTING United event. This is the last issue of 2023, and we’re coming in hot in 2024 with features on top predictions going into the year, digital label systems, and our annual Buyers Guide. Best regards,
EDITOR IN CHIEF Thomas Tetreault 978-921-7850 EDITOR Cassandra Balentine firstname.lastname@example.org ASSOCIATE EDITOR Melissa Donovan email@example.com ART DIRECTOR Sarah M. White firstname.lastname@example.org WEB EDITOR Melissa Mueller CONTRIBUTORS Kemal Carr, Olivia Cahoon, Gina Ferrara, Mark Hanley ADVERTISING SALES PUBLISHER Thomas Tetreault 100 Cummings Center, STE 321E Beverly, Massachusetts 01915 Ph 978-921-7850 x110 • Fx 978-921-7870 email@example.com SALES Amanda Doyon Ph 978-921-7850 x170 • Fx 978-921-7870 firstname.lastname@example.org Nicole Pizzi-Cerundolo Ph 978-921-7850 x160 • Fx 978-921-7870 email@example.com Subscribe online at dpsmagazine.com
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Cassandra Balentine, editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Publishing Solutions is published by Rockport Custom Publishing, LLC. Please send change of address forms to: 100 Cummings Center, STE 321E, Beverly, MA 01915. © Rockport Custom Publishing, LLC 2023. Reproduction by any means of the whole or part of Digital Publishing Solutions without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. Views expressed in the editorial pages do not imply our endorsement. Subscription Rates: U.S. $41.65 per year, seven issues; single copies: $5.95, Canada and Mexico: $52.22 (U.S.D.), Other international subscriptions: $71.05 (U.S.D.) Vendors: We welcome your product news. Include prices, slides, photos, and digital files with your press release. Please forward product samples and media kits to Reviews Editor, DPS Magazine, 100 Cummings Center, STE. 321E Beverly, MA 01915. We cannot be responsible for unsolicited product samples.
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INFO INFO INFO
Printing United Recap High Energy for Print Industry By DPS Magazine Staff
PRINTING United took place October 18 to 20, 2023, in Atlanta, GA. The trade show brings all segments of print together under one roof. The show included notable product announcements across hardware, consumables, media, and workflow.
Digital Printing Equipment Vendors in the digital print space highlighted their latest and equipment from labels and packaging to production inkjet and wide format. Canon U.S.A., Inc. unveiled the LabelStream LS2000 inkjet press and the varioPRINT iX1700 B3+ size inkjet digital sheetfed press. It also introduced the imagePRESS V1350 toner-based production press. Durst Group showcased the Tau 330 RSC, a label printer, offering print speeds of up to 262 feet per minute and native resolution of 1,200x1,200 dpi. EFI exhibited a full range of printing solutions for the sign and display graphics, packaging, and textile markets. Printware launched the iJetColor1175, an HP-powered iJetColor Envelope Press. Epson demonstrated its range of solutions ideal for a variety of applications—
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indoor and outdoor signage, photography, graphics, and textiles. Fujifilm North America Corporation, Graphic Communication Division featured four new technologies in its REVORIA PRESS toner-based product line, including a new B2 option. Introduced as the Reverie Press PC1120, it is a six-color, single-pass device that prints up to 120 pages per minute (ppm) in CMYK with a choice of two specialty toners alongside the option for an under or top coat. HP shuttled attendees over to its Graphic Arts Experience Center for a special event. Once there, visitors heard from influential speakers about the trends shaping the future of industrial print and had a chance to see the latest from its Indigo and PageWide portfolios, including the all-new HP Indigo V12 Digital Press, HP PageWide Advantage 2200, and HP Indigo 100K Digital Press.
In the Heidelberg booth, visitors witnessed the VersaFire LP, a four-color digital print system designed for high volumes in the commercial print sector. The device produces up to 135 ppm and can process media up to 24 pt. board. The company also highlighted the Gallus One roll-to-roll label press, which utilizes Dimatix Samba printheads. IntoPrint Technologies showcased the SP1360, which offers print speeds of up to 60 ppm for both monochrome and color prints and resolutions of up to 1,200x1,200 dpi. Koenig & Bauer promoted its RotaJET and VariJET digital presses. The new VariJET 106, a modular, singlepass sheetfed digital printing press for 1. Canon demonstrated its portfolio of production printing and large format solutions. 2. EFI exhibited a full range of printing solutions for the sign and display graphics, packaging, and textile markets.
the folding carton market as well as the expanded capabilities of the RotaJET digital web press across all segments. Komori America celebrated its 100th anniversary. To highlight how far the industry has come, it displayed an original Komori press from the 1930s. The company also shared the many ways it has evolved its focus from a printing press manufacturer to a print engineering service provider to make it possible for print providers to expand their revenue stream with new solutions in packaging and commercial print. Kyocera introduced the TASKalfa Pro 55000cm, a cutsheet inkjet platform that prints up to 150 ppm and 9,000 images per hour at 1,200x1,200 dpi using waterbased pigment inks that have the ability to produce a wide range of colors and ensure consistent and accurate output.
Meteor Inkjet showcased its portfolio of industrial inkjet solutions including a range of electronics driving major industrial inkjet printheads; printhead nozzle status direction and image quality enhancement technologies; software development kits; and DropWatcher Systems to support printer OEMs in the design, optimization, and production of inkjet print systems. Ricoh announced the global debut of the RICOH Pro Z75 Digital Press, its first B2 perfecting sheetfed inkjet plat-form using aqueous ink. Celebrating its 80th anniversary, SCREEN Americas showcased the Truepress Jet520NX Series, the Truepress Jet520HD Series, and Trurepress Jet L350UV SAI Series. Sharp previewed major advancements in production print capabilities,
including the first in a new line of digital presses. The color model of Sharp Digital Presses produce up to 120 pages per minute on a variety of media sizes and thicknesses up to 400 gsm. It is equipped with a Fiery digital front end and prints up to six colors in one pass. Xeikon highlighted digital production capabilities in the label, packaging, and graphic arts printing sectors.
Finishing/Post Press In the finishing sector, vendors focused on automation and tools that support the continued evolution of digital print. APS Imaging Solutions highlighted its LF 2000 All-In-Max high-speed, automatic book block system for creating lay flat book blocks from single sheets. Baldwin featured its BW Coverting PVQ 4.0 printing inspection software.
INFO #6 dpsmagazine.com
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feeding and finishing solutions. Its booth hosted live demonstrations of die cut ting, perfect binding and trimming, slit ting and creasing, folding, saddlestitch ing, and roll-fed print solutions. Therm-O-Type showcased its range of finishing equipment, ideal for digital print environments.
Software and Workflow
BlueCrest unveiled OttoMate, a col laborative robot that is engineered to work alongside human operators to au tomate various tasks in mail production work cell. BOBST highlighted its printing and converting technologies portfolio, in cluding the DIGITAL MASTER series and the MASTER M6. The Challenge Machinery Company featured its CHAMP 185Pro hydraulic paper cutter. Duplo demonstrated the DC-618 Slit ter/Cutter/Creaser with the DC Inline folder, among other systems. EMT International unveiled its next generation dynamic perf and punch con tinuous feed processor line-the EMT DP22 PRO. Graphic Whizard highlighted its SinaJet digital die cutters. KURZ debuted the DM-Unliner 2D and the DM-Smartliner. MBO showcased five new roll-fed finishing modules including the SVC 23 Sheeter, the DFT 23 Folder, the ZSS 23 Automatic Splicer, the FC 23 Contour Cutter, and the FC 23 Spot Coater. The new modules are all sized to fit the most 3. Sharp previewed major advancements in production print capabilities.
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popular inkjet production web widths up to 23 inches wide. Morgana featured its SC6500 Digital Diecutter from the Plockmatic Group. Muller Martini invited attendees to explore and interact with digital equip ment and Connex workflow systems to gain firsthand insights into the advantag es of seamless integration and witness the harmony between workflow and technology to demonstrate the value of a connected, efficient, and future-ready print finishing environment. Nobelus showcased the Komfi Amiga 52 Double, a thermal laminator that can perform single-sided and inline, double sided lamination as well as the Komfi Amiga Emboss. Plockmatic highlighted its booklet making systems, which continue to ex pand its capabilities, now up to 224 pag es with the PowerSquare line-up, and with 1lx8.5-inch landscape functional ity, or up to llxll-inch format. Rollem unveiled the Insignia6H PLUS die cutter. Skandacor showcased FINISHpro 2739 AF Max, a die-free flatbed die cut ting solution. Standard Finishing Systems brought its diverse line of Hunkeler and Horizon
There were no shortage of software and workflow demonstrations on the floor. Crawford Technology highlighted SmartSetup AutoSence and AI, a solu tion designed to automate print file in dexing, data extraction, and onboarding. Customer's Canvas by Aurigma un veiled the latest features of its web to print platform, including advanced prod uct management capabilities. DirectMail2.0 highlighted its market ing based solution designed to track the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns while enhancing the results through the integration of digital platforms. EngView released its Package & Dis play Designer Suite. This new version brings new features like visualization of conical objects. Fiery showcased the digital front ends and workflow products driving digi tal print operations. HYBRID Software demonstrated its complete portfolio of prepress and work flow software for labels and packaging. InSoft Automation introduced Imp Version 13 with a powerful invention "no-mix ganging." SmartSoft showed updates to Press Wise, its all-in-one Print MIS, Web Store front, and Print Automation platform. Viesus showcased its Image Enhance ment, which offers AI Upscaling to boost the quality of low-resolution images.
Until Next Year PRINTING United takes place next year in Las Vegas, NV from September 10 to 12, 2024. Check out dpsmagazine.com for an expanded recap. dps
advertorial UPMRAFLATAC I !
The Evolution of Digital Printing in Labeling
UPM Rafiatac's Innovations: Transforming Label Customization Through Digital Printing In a rapidly evolving landscape, the demand for highly tailored and customizable labels has surged, compelling converters to
seek media optimized for various digital print technologies. UPM Raflatac's pioneering approach recognizes this need, provid ing materials uniquely optimized for different digital print technologies, rather than simply offering standard laminates.
Optimized Media for Different Digital Print Technologies Converters face a crucial challenge in the digital printing realm-the need for media that aligns seamlessly with diverse digital print technologies. UPM Raflatac acknowl edges this demand and offers a range of materials optimized for distinct digital print technologies, catering to inkjet, toner, and other specific digital printing methods. These optimized materials are not mere laminates but are purposefully designed to enhance the efficiency and output quality of the label production process.
The Unique Characters of Media Optimized for Digital Printing Compatibility with Various Substrat es: UPM Raflatac's optimized media dem onstrate compatibility with a wide array of substrates, ensuring versatility in la bel production. W hether for paper, film, or other specialized substrates, these
materials adapt seamlessly to the vary ing needs of different label applications. Specialty Finish es and Textures: UPM Raflatac's optimized media offer specialty finishes and textures, providing a range of aesthetic choices for label designs. Con verters can create labels with unique tac tile sensations, from glossy to matte, cater ing to diverse branding requirements. Tailored Performanc e: UPM Raf latac utilizes strategic partnerships with OEMs to deliver even more tailored solu tions. Through this collaboration, UPM Raflatac ensures that its digital print ing materials and technology integrate seamlessly with the machinery and pro cesses of partnering OEMs, optimizing the labeling and packaging experience for end users. "We work closely with various digi tal printing OEMs, qualify our products, and identify the best performance so our customer gets the best solution for their needs. We identify each technologies' capabilities and limitations so our customers are aware of what they should expect for their printers and PS labels perfor mances. We also work with OEMS for their upcom ing new develop ments, so when
they are ready, we are ready with them," says Kirit Naik, global director, Digital Printing Technologies, UPM Raflatac.
UPM Raflatac's Digital Printing: Versatility Across Industries The versatility of UPM Raflatac's Digital Printing extends across a diverse spec trum of industries, enhancing branding and packaging. From food & beverage, cosmetics & personal care, pharmaceuti cals to logistics, their digital printing so lutions cater to various sectors, providing superior quality and adaptability. Commitment to Sustainability
UPM Raflatac's digital printing solutions are intricately woven with a commitment to sustainability. Utilizing responsibly sourced materials and digital printing techniques, UPM Raflatac contributes to more sustainable labeling practices. Using the Digital Label Materials Finder
The UPM Raflatac website provides a comprehensive Digital Label Materials Finder, guiding businesses to discover the most suitable label materials for their spe cific digital printing needs. By leveraging this tool, companies can explore a wide array of digital label materials, enabling them to make informed decisions based on their unique requirements. Unleash creativity with UPM Raf latac's digital printing solutions and make a lasting brand impact with labels that narrate your story. dps
November 2023 II dps II 9
Project Management, Digital Proofing, and DAM for Packaging
By Melissa Donovan 0------------------------------------------
Packaging continues its transition to digital print and workflow software adapts in response. Digital and hybrid print envi ronments take advantage of emerging solutions that touch every facet of the package production process. Areas of note are project management, digital proofing, and digital asset management (DAM). A modern digital packaging environment implements all three functions to achieve efficiency, improve time to market, and decrease costs.
All Together Now
Wood also believes "an integrated so management and ensuring everyone Advancements in technology allow project lution provides a centralized repository works with the most up-to-date assets." "Combining project management management, digital proofing, and DAM for all packaging-related data, includ to be integrated into one solution versus ing project timelines, artwork files, and with digital proofing and DAM in one stitching separate systems together. digital assets. This centralized approach solution enables small teams and Bringing all three functions into one improves visibility, accessibility, and ver growing businesses to increase speed solution offers significant advantages in sion control, enabling efficient project and simplify their go-to-market processes," explains Adrian Fer packaging, according to Gemnandez, GM, Mox. "This rap ma Wood, Smartflow product manager, Loftware. "Firstly, it idly reduces approval time for Combining project management with streamlines the entire packaging impactful product packaging digital proofing and DAM in one solution production process by eliminat and content, enabling teams to develop and deliver artwork ing the need for manual handoffs enables small teams and growing and content to get new SKUs to and data transfers between difbusinesses to increase speed and ferent systems. This integration market quickly, efficiently, and simplify their go-to-market processes. ensures seamless communica in compliance with all regula tion and collaboration between tion requirements." -Adrian Fernandez, GM, Mox teams, thereby reducing errors Integration equals consis tency. ''As digital print becomes and delays," she notes.
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more popular, more brands in tegrate these three areas. The primary reason is to maintain a consistent brand appearance in their campaigns across region 8 := al, national, and/or global mar kets," explains Mark Geeves, director of sales and marketing, � Fl= Color-Logic Inc. A workflow that consists of all of these functions-project management, digital proofing, and DAM-within a single solution has many advantages, says Guido Haeussler, sales manager packaging printing, ColorGATE. Whenever new software is imple mented, the team must learn how to work with it. Interfaces are developed so that different software can talk whether integration or stitched together to each other. It is important that all these systems are preferred. "Small to medi pieces are able to work together and that um printers often prefer a single applica no data is lost in the process. "When you tion because it is easier to deploy and of reduce this to one software, there are fers seamless service and support when none of these problems;' offers Haeussler. there is a smaller IT department," states Mike Agness, EVP, Americas, HY Graham Blanks, director business op BRID Software, believes there are ad erations NA, DALIM SOFTWARE. vantages to integrated solutions as well Larger companies with larger IT de as separate systems. "When they are partments tend to be more comfortable integrated, you expect that the software integrating different applications. "They works seamlessly together. You can also have no problem sourcing applications call one vendor to provide service for all from separate vendors. It truly becomes a business decision to determine if a the pieces if something goes wrong." Conversely, "if a complete system company has the resources to manage is provided by different applications, either option. The connection between it's usually because one of the pieces is all of these appear seamless but the user more complete, fits your needs a bit bet experience is different between the ap ter, has already been purchased, or of plications," continues Blanks. fers some functionality that you cannot Determining Relevancy get from anyone else," adds Agness. The size and scope of the production Modern digital packaging production house is a great determining factor for whether solely digital or a hybrid en vironment-thrives with key functions 1. DAUM ES6 incorporates a DAM system for manag including project management, digital ing all digital assets and includes search tools such as proofing, and DAM. taxonomy, similarity search, color-based asset search Agness says all three functions are ing for images, and Al searching based on the content of images. 2. Loftware's Smartflow is a configurable critical in assuring the fast processing of and automated artwork management platform. 3. HY jobs and files. BRID Software works with ICScolor Remote Director to "Many businesses and brand teams offer a fully integrated, color-accurate proofing option still rely on emails with file attachments, integrated with its CLOUD FLOW product. Approv.il
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spreadsheets, and shared drives for workflow management and collabora tion. In today's omnichannel environ ment, this is simply no longer fit for purpose. It's easy to lose track of digital assets and teams' input, especially for approvals, feedback, and version histo ries. If the final content is incorrect or the wrong version is used at the wrong stage of the go-to-market process, brand reputation is at risk," notes Fernandez. Use of project management, digital proofing, and DAM allows printers to meet the advantages of digital printing including personalization, localization, and time to market, according to Geeves. "These features help speed and sim plify your go-to-market processes, espe cially in complex packaging print envi ronments. There is a need for increased automation, also to save costs and re sources," notes Haeussler. Specifically in reference to project management, this function is essential to modern digital packaging produc tion for a few reasons. "It offers three important functions-knowing what and how to produce, and when and how to produce it. It also provides a foundation for reviews and approvals," shares Agness.
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"Project management tools enable effective planning, resource allocation, and collaboration among teams, ensur ing projects stay on schedule and within budget. They help streamline complex workflows, manage dependencies, and track progress, resulting in improved ef ficiency and timely delivery of packaging projects," explains Wood. Without project management-there is chaos, warns Blanks. "What is re quired with any project is a single course of truth for each job or product in the or ganization. It is better to have a central source of information rather than rely ing on email messages or phone calls to confirm changes." Digital proofing is also important be cause "it provides a means to allow cus tomers to review and approve both con tent and color. They also keep a record of who approved each and every project, which is important if issues arise with the final product," says Agness. "Digital proofing plays a vital role in the packaging industry by facilitating the review and approval process. With the ability to annotate and comment directly on digital proofs in real-time, 4. HYBRID PROOFSCOPE is a turnkey solution for soft proofing and collaboration. 5. HYBRID WORK SPACE is the foundation for HYBRID CLOUDFLOW work. It keeps a central database for all CLOUDFLOW applications, and offers file and asset management.
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stakeholders can provide clear and speedy feedback to ensure accuracy, consistency, and compliance with brand guidelines. This collaborative approach eliminates the need for physical proofs, which reduces costs and speeds up the review cycle," adds Wood. DAM is critical in terms of content, making it both available and easily ac cessible, notes Agness. He adds that it is also important in regards to reprints and processing them quickly. "DAM systems are essential for orga nizing, storing, and retrieving digital as sets used in packaging production. They provide a secure and centralized reposi tory for artwork files, images, logos, and other digital assets, ensuring version control, easy retrieval, and efficient re use. DAM systems enable seamless col laboration, improve asset traceability, and enhance brand consistency across packaging projects," says Wood.
Evolving Tools The latest demands in packaging-in cluding the increased use of digital have pushed project management, digi tal proofing, and DAM to evolve. "Overall, these tools have embraced digital transformation and advanced functionalities to meet the demands of modern digital packaging production," shares Wood.
Two drivers are responsible for this, according to Blanks. "The first is a movement from traditional communi cation channels to a multitude of faster digital communication channels. The second is tying the brand owner much closer to the creative operations and the production people who are charged to create and produce the final artwork for digital print." Packaging-and marketing-is be coming more complex, and this is also why tools must evolve to standardize and simplify the process. ''.L\s a business scales up, there are many different levels to consider. Launch dates might vary in different markets, product shelf life, logis tics-all of these can play a part in decid ing path to market," shares Fernandez. "We continue to receive feedback from customers and partners about the need for higher levels of automation with minimal operator intervention. Automat ing processes is increasingly necessary to keep up with customer demands for customization and short production times," adds Haeussler. Today's project management tools provide enhanced data speeds between management information systems (MIS)/ enterprise resource planning (ERP) and production systems. Digital proofing of fers capabilities like ensuring the right person has reviewed and approved the order. DAM offers faster access to con tent, simultaneously making that content easier to locate, according to Agness. Wood elaborates on the integration of digital proofing and DAM. "Digital proof ing tools have evolved to support sophis ticated annotation capabilities, enabling stakeholders to provide detailed feedback directly on digital proofs. They often offer advanced comparison features, allowing users to compare versions or variants of packaging designs visually. DAM systems have adapted to handle a range of file for mats and support version control, metada ta management, and robust search capa bilities. They are more intuitive, allowing
6 logistics. Custom Create covers the entire process from ecommerce to final production, including all the benefits of project management, digital proofing, and DAM solutions. A software solution that is compatible with ecommerce systems, it manages every step from order to final production, is easy to use and, together with the company’s REST API support, can easily integrate into existing processes. DALIM ES is a complete, but modular system offering project management, online digital proofing, and DAM. One strength of DALIM ES is its project management. DALIM ES provides a clear view of marketing workflow milestones and approval processes, revealing potential barriers at an early stage. Users create highly efficient workflows that speed up approval cycles with DALIM ES online proofing. Working from a browser6. ColorGATE Custom Create covers the entire process from ecommerce to final production, including all the benefits of project management, digital proofing, and DAM solutions.
based system, change requests can be viewed on a collaborative basis, in real time. DALIM ES offers a DAM for all media content, integrated with production and approval cycle tools. Earlier this year, Esko launched Mox to help growing brands and small businesses bring quality products to market in a consistent, fast, and sustainable way. It combines project management, digital proofing, and DAM in single, cloud-based product content tool. Offerings include collaboration, review and approval, workflow templates, tracking and auditing, advanced proofing, and DAM. HYBRID CLOUDFLOW addresses project management, digital proofing, and DAM through various modules. HYBRID DATALINK is responsible for connectivity and data collection from MIS/ERP and other data sources. HYBRID WORKSPACE keeps a central database for all CLOUDFLOW applications, and offers file and asset management. HYBRID PROOFSCOPE is a turnkey solution for soft proofing and
See page 18 for more information.
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collaboration. HYBRID JOBS offers job management by presenting it in a graphical user interface. A configurable and automated artwork management platform, Loftware’s Smartflow is an SaaS that eliminates manual processes and paper files by making all content accessible in the cloud. It streamlines the packaging concept-to-shelf process with customized workflows to gain efficiency and virtually eliminate manual mistakes. With improved visibility on all steps of a project, Smartflow enhances stakeholder collaboration through online proofing and ensures accountability with time-sensitive task reminders. Smartflow also offers version control, centralized content management, and online proofing and comparison tools to help ensure control and compliance.
Functional Processes Project management, digital proofing, and DAM are three areas of the digital packaging workflow that thrive when working together, but can also perform well on their own. Automation of each tool’s functionality is important to modern digital packaging production, especially as packaging becomes more complex in design variability and the modern workspace means communicating with people both at a desk and a country over. These systems offer a streamlined process for both digital and hybrid packaging environments. dps
NDED UHV PRESSES
igital inkjet press manufac turers continue to push the limits in terms of capacity just how much can one press take on? In the digital ultra high volume (UHV) seg ment of the market, it's quite a lot. DPS defines UHV as presses with the ability to deliver more than ten million impres sions per month. While the combination of hardware, software, and printheads are what make a UHV press perform to expectations, today's devices are attractive for more than speed. Developments in media handling, for example, allow for running
By Melissa Donovan
heavier stock through a press, which ex tends application possibilities; while ad vanced and modular drying capabilities help drive productivity. Nachum Korman, VP/GM, World wide Industrial Print Go-To-Market, HP, Inc. points out that two primary advance ments among products in this space in clude productivity and quality, increas ing speed without sacrificing quality.
Application Considerations Primary applications on UHV presses range from direct mail and catalogs to folding cartons. This continues to
morph as devices are enhanced with new features and product introduc tions, enabing different types of media to run on the presses. "Typical applications include state ments-transactional/transpromotional, explanation of benefits, books, and di rect mail," states Lisa Weese, director of marketing, Canon Solutions America, Production Print Solutions. Current products on the market like the Canon ColorStream make it pos sible for such a range of applications Above: The N2 Company recently installed two HP PageWide Advantage 2200 presses.
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quality and productivity equate to that of offset presses. “As the needs for printers change to include more variable print, high quality with shorter runs, and more versatility, inkjet presses are essential for adapting to the new world of print,” shares Zellmer.
1 to be achieved on one press. Features like water-based pigment inks allow for printing on uncoated paper without pretreatment. The ink formulation is optimized for lightweight media as well as heavier stocks. Mark C. Little, senior manager, marketing and business development, RICOH USA, says there’s been a sharp increase in direct mail since the “sunset of the COVID-19 pandemic.” In addition, larger commercial printers and data-driven direct mailers experience demand in catalogs as well. Korman points out that the HP PageWide Advantage 2200 press primarily supports applications within the general commercial print space, including direct mail; the publishing segment including books and magazines; as well as transactional, which is a segment also handled through its reselling partner, BlueCrest.
Jeff Zellmer, global sales and strategy, Kodak, points out that the UHV press category includes the KODAK PROSPER 7000 Turbo Press, the KODAK PROSPER 6000 Press, and the KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press. “The presses cover a range of applications, such as direct mail, marketing collateral, inserts, catalogs, and books; other commercial printing and publishing applications; and transactional and transpromotional printing.” The recently introduced PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press extends the range of applications to jobs where uncompromising offset quality is required. “With superior inkjet productivity, quality, and cost, the PROSPER ULTRA 520 is a true replacement for traditional offset,” comments Zellmer. Overall, digital inkjet technology is seeing exponential growth and is expected to continue to replace offset as
See page 18 for more information.
Canon Solutions America
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Varying factors are at play when it comes to page volume in this segment of the market. Growth is anticipated. “We expect to see page volumes for high-quality printing to continue to increase over the next several years. The growth of direct mail and data-driven print applications will help drive these volumes greater or as expected through 2025 and beyond,” cites Little. The RICOH PRO VC70000e produces anywhere from one million to 40 million impressions per month. Weese says the Canon ColorStream is known for its productivity and minimal operator intervention. This series handles anywhere from 16 million up to 75 million U.S. letter pages during peak months, depending on the exact model and speed configuration. One recent development featured on the HP PageWide Advantage 2200 is increased drying capability with three modular options, including one dryer zone, two dryer zones with passive cooling, or three dryer zones with active web cooling. This helps to enable more coverage on coated or uncoated. It is also able to run media up to 14 pts—coated or uncoated. The press is designed to be easy to upgrade, adding performance and versatility seamlessly with the additional drying capacity as well as web cooling, and digital front end capability. Zellmer says Kodak’s continuous inkjet presses are built to run. “The presses can accommodate high volumes with ease. As 1. Transactional output produced on HP's PageWide inkjet presses. 2. A comparison of output from offset versus KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press.
print job sizes shrink the economics of inkjet increase, making the sweet spot for PROSPER Inkjet Presses in the mid- to high-volume jobs that might be a little too small for offset presses.” Print volume on Kodak PROSPER Presses have experienced strong annual growth in recent years, according to Zellmer, which he says can be attributed to several factors, including advancements in inkjet technology, “increased demand for personalized and short-run printing, and a growing emphasis on sustainability. North American businesses have been quick to embrace these trends and are also benefiting from a stronger economy than in some other parts of the world. Nevertheless, the overall trend towards inkjet technology in commercial print applications is a global phenomenon, promising a more sustainable and flexible future for the printing industry worldwide.”
Products to Point Out While we’ve provided examples throughout the article of UHV printers, we dive a bit deeper here.
Canon Canon ColorStream offers several enhancements that impact image quality, personalization options, and media range. New native 1,200 dpi printheads deliver stunning, consistent print quality from the first page to the last. In addition, a powerful SRA controller RIPs print data with fully variable content at rated speed. With control over every nozzle in the printheads, the controller is able provide a consistent droplet size and placement, forming the basis for striking print quality. Another attractive feature of the ColorStream is its paper waste reduction features, including waste-free print pause and printing in speed ramps. Among products in this line up, the ColorStream 8000 series is designed to meet tight service level agreements and reduce market price pressures
2 with uninterrupted productivity and increased output volumes at print speeds of up to 525 feet per minute (fpm).
HP Inc. Last year, HP announced two major presses—the HP PageWide Advantage 2200 and the HP PageWide We b P r e s s T485 HD. Both of these products provide HP customers with the ability to print high quality, productively, and with the versatility to print on a range of media to produce different types of jobs on one press. When HP announced the PageWide Advantage 2200 press, the maximum quality mode print speed was 333 fpm. Today that
speed is 50 percent faster—at 500 fpm. This means that customers can print at the highest quality level even more productively, according to the company. HP presses use water-based pigment inks. Its most recent ink, HP Brilliant Ink, delivers a wide color gamut on a range of
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Stream Inkjet Technology, including the KODAK PROSPER 7000 Turbo Press, KODAK PROSPER 6000 Press, and KODAK PROSPER Imprinting Sys tems, which are specially formulated to create brighter, clearer, punchier print, at speeds faster than any other com mercial inkjet system on the market, according to the company. EKTACOL OR Inks are available for both pigment and dye-based applications-PROS PER Imprinting Systems only, allowing maximum versatility for its customers. Additionally, as a complement to EKTACOLOR and KODACHROME Kodak Inks, Kodak launched a range of KO This September, Kodak introduced DAK OPTIMAX Primers. By applying KODAK EKTACOLOR Inks used in these primers, printers can avoid using expensive inkjet-treated papers and other special advertiser index & ty substrates. OPTIMAX Primers improve ink re� companies mentioned ceptivity, ink adhesion, AD INDEX rub resistance, and im ,, ' ,. ., age quality across a vari 17 crawfordtech.com 1 Crawford Technologies, Inc. ety of substrates, includ 27 duplousa.com 2 Duplo U.S.A., Corporation ing paper, cardboard, 3 Eastman Kodak Company 2 graphics.kodak.com 25 graphicwhizard.com Graphic Whizard 4 plastic, film, and metal 23 rollemusa.com Rollem Corp. of America 5 ized materials. In addi Sharp Electronics 7 business.sharpusa.com 6 tion, OPTIMAX Primers 7 Signs365 28 signs365.com facilitate the recyclability 9 UPM Raflatac 9 upmraflatac.com of printed products by Valloy 13 valloy.com 8 improving deinkability. COMPANIES MENTIONED Kodak recently anI· Company Company nounced Mercury Print Bluecrest, Inc. 109 Kodak 112 Productions of RochesCanon Solutions America 110 Landa 138 Canon Solutions America 120 Locr 132 ter, NY, as its first cus Color-Logic 121 Loftware 105 tomer for the KODAK Color-LoQic Inc. 100 MBO America & Komori America 133 PROSPER 7000 Turbo 135 ColorGATE 101 Monadnock Paper Mills Crawford Technoloqies 122 Mox 106 Press. Utilizing KODAK Custome(s Canvas bv Aurigma 123 Muller Martini 136 Stream Inkjet Technol 137 DAUM Software 102 Plockmatic 139 DirectMail2.0 Quadient 124 ogy and KODAK EKTA DuoloUSA 125 RicohUSA 113 COLOR Inks, the PROS Durst 126 Ricoh,U.S.A., Inc. 140 PER 7000 Turbo Press Eastman Kodak Comoanv 127 RISO, Inc. 141 Epson America, Inc. 128 Rochester Software Associated 142 is designed for monthly Eska 103 Screen Americas 114 print volumes of up to Fiery 129 Screen Automation 143 144 Gallus Group 130 Significans Automation 239 million A4 pages. 145 HP Inc. 111 Skandacor Direct, Inc. The press offers printing Hvbrid Software 104 Therm-0-Tvoe 146 speeds of up to 1,345 134 Hybrid Software 147 Transformations 131 lnSoft Automation fpm and a throughput of
media, including offset coated, offset un coated, and inkjet optimized papers. HP's solution includes an Optimizer fluid applied digitally to allow the ink to adhere to coated offset paper or to de liver pop on uncoated offset paper. Cus tomers can vary the amount of optimizer used depending on the paper type and desired output. No Optimizer is needed to print on inkjet papers. HP also works with paper mills to offer ColorPRO pa pers that further enhance a customer's experience to deliver high print quality and high productivity.
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up to 5,523 A4 or U.S. letter ppm. The PROSPER 7000 Turbo Press has three optimized print modes-Quality, Per formance and Turbo, which allow easy adjustme,nt of print speed and quality to the requirements of each job. RICOH The RICOH Pro VC70000e is rated for one million to 40 million impressions per month with a resolution of up to l,200xl,200 dpi. An artificial intelligence powered, closed-lop web inspection drives continual improvement. Patented drying technologies make exceptional quality possible on offset-coated stocks. The press runs with high-density aqueous-based pigment inks, with options for MICR and extend gamut ink. Dynamic variable drop size technology produces up to three different drop sizes at a page element level. Screen Americas A single-pass inkjet, drop on demand piezo printer, the Truepress Jet520NX features a five-inch printhead module that delivers up to 600x900 dpi resolu tion and a maximum speed of up to 590 fpm. The gap between printheads was reduced to one-eighth of earlier Screen systems to deliver even higher quality and more stable printing. The printing width of the full-color variable printing system ranges from 6.5 to 20.4 inches.
Extended Possibility UHV presses make up a powerful seg ment of the market. Reaching print volumes of more than ten million impressions per month, the hardware is designed to produce quality final pieces while performing as the workhorse of a business. Thanks to recent advance ments in features like material handling and ink sets, the range of media able to run on the presses has increased, which directly effects the number of applica tions now possible. dps
THE PRINT INDUSTRY INVESTS IN AUTOMATION By Cassandra Balentine
• t's been a challenging few years for nearly every industry. From supply chain issues to inflation, political unrest, and a labor crisis, the road to success is fraught with obstacles in every di rection for print professionals. "One of the biggest challenges this year has been fear of the economy and rising interest rates. This has led to a lot more caution when considering large investments on
equipment/technology," admits Steve Lynn, director of labels and packag ing, Durst. For those that have embraced change or are ready to, digital tech nologies offer increased efficiency along with automation, just-in-time production, and reduced waste.
Industry Bounce Back While there are still challenges, the print industry is no stranger to
reinvention. With that energy print providers and the vendors that serve them are not holding back. John Henze, VP, sales and mar keting, Fiery, reports a return to normalcy for print businesses after recovering from the COVID-19 pan demic and supply chain disruptions in 2023. "Printers are adapting to Above: Real-time color consistency across jobs with a cloud-based ink library by Signifl cans Automation. Credit: Virtual lnkBooks.
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1 new market conditions and consumer expectations as well as looking for ways to expand their operations efficiently.” In general, Lynn believes the industry has bounced back from the material supply challenges of 2022 and this led to a few big trends—print converters reducing their in-house inventory, allowing them to invest in the technology necessary to stay productive and efficient. Also, print buyers reduced print inventory and returned to normal buying patterns. “This had a negative impact immediately as they purchased less to reduce inventory, but has stabilized with print buying and production trends appearing to have normalized.” Chen Lalzary, marketing communications manager, Landa Digital Printing, also notes a worldwide “great destocking” across all industry fields. The need to reduce stock has driven producers 1. Operators using the Fiery FS600 Pro platform, which launched earlier this year. 2. The Kodak PROSPER Ultra 520 press is powered by KODAK ULTRASTREAM CIJ technology.
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to seek production flexibility. The lack of demand stability leads to difficulties with forecasting.” Ray Hillhouse, VP, sales and marketing, Plockmatic Group Offline Business Unit, points to a deep desire, firstly, to get the industry and each individual print shop back to profitability. “With that, they can look forward and begin to consider the benefit of investing in new labor-saving equipment. Automation has certainly been an important trend, and it’s coming from both suppliers and print shops.” “We’re seeing a slow but steady recovery from the pandemic across our customer base,” echos Mark Schlimme, VP, marketing, Screen Americas. However, he admits that rising costs impact everyone and labor challenges remain. “In 2023, the label market left the worst of last year’s supply chain problems behind. We saw a return to a more predictable supply of paper and film substrates, a great change from the anxieties of the previous year. Converters ran
down some of the excess inventories they had accumulated when they switched from ‘just in time’ to ‘just in case’ and have been busy printing. Customer demand has been strong despite a noticeable shift in spending from products that require labels to services. Price increases have abated as well,” comments Victor Gomez, director, Epson America, Inc. The welcome resumption of a measure of stability was somewhat offset by rising interest rates. “As we enter the final stretch of 2023, the real issue for many converters is predicting demand six months or a year out. No one wants to be caught with a large capital expense financed at a high interest rate. If consumers are squeezed, consumption patterns change, and per label prices come down. Because of this uncertainty, many converters have been squeezing what they can out of their existing equipment, waiting to see which way the economic winds will blow,” adds Gomez. “I think there was a lot of uncertainly around the economy that has now for the most part subsided. The soft landing that the financial press highlighted has been accomplished and fears of a recession have abated,” shares Larry D’Amico, director of LFP and fabric, Durst.
Industry Wide Challenges While there are many improvements, the industry faces ongoing challenges. “Industry wide, inflation and rising interest rates continue to be major factors in the latitude companies have to invest and grow. Increasing costs, the cost of capital, employee retention, and recruitment and the supply chain are all impacted,” says Ryan Semanchik, president, Transformations, Inc. While for many equipment manufacturers the challenges of the supply chain—although much better—are still prevalent, shares Lance Martin, VP, marketing, MBO America & Komori America. “Economic issues in Europe are affecting some specific supply chains.”
The biggest challenges for a printer is staying in business, and then turning in a profit. “From a U.K. perspective, interest rates, the cost of fuel, raw materials, and wage demands have hit all industry sectors, and I am certain that there are very few countries that have been immune from these problems. The war in Ukraine is one of the key drivers of many of these issues, and we can do little to impact that. However, the strong businesses and those that have carved out unique niches where they have been able to keep prices high, have been able to stand out,” comments Hillhouse. Tying into labor concerns is succession planning. “Many print businesses are owned by older individuals who may be contemplating retirement. In fact, experts have not seen any type of slowdown in the Mergers and Acquisitions rate since 2021. The most successful print companies should be proactive and conduct internal audits regularly, so they’re in a perpetual state of readiness to sell,” suggests Nathan Armata, director of workflow automation, Significans Automation. Cybersecurity is a prevalent concern as well. “The simple fact is that, in under two minutes, a hacker could steal your identity, cripple your business, and make your corporate and personal life miserable. So, building a strong cybersecurity culture into your organization is crucial to keeping sensitive information safe,” adds Armata.
Inkjet In addition to overall industry trends, specific segments stand out, such as the continued adoption and advancement of inkjet. Increasing material and labor costs are cutting into commercial printers’ profitability, while customers still expect high-quality products and services at competitive prices in 2023. Therefore, an investment by commercial printers in production inkjet remains an attractive option. “The speed, productivity, reliability,
2 low running costs, and high levels of automation of today’s presses provide value for both high-volume and short-run jobs. In the case of commercial printers and in plants, there continues to be a growing transition from offset and toner to production inkjet,” comments Tonya Powers, director of marketing, Production Print Solutions, Canon Solutions America. Jeff Zellmer, VP, global sales and strategy, Kodak, feels that it goes without saying the evolving economics of inkjet production printing is making a big impact on offset replacement conversions. “Productivity is key here and the most important aspect of the productivity discussion is quality.” “The acceptance of inkjet printing and the proliferation of print and finishing systems with increased productivity were profound throughout the year,” agrees Martin. “Advancements in inkjet technology have driven more short-run work into the market with ‘just-in-time to market,’” add Mike Wing, solutions manager,
book technology and digital solutions, and Carlos Martins, solutions manager, Muller Martini. Some are still trying to figure out how to best utilize inkjet technology. “This year we’ve seen it start to become more accessible to more types of print centers, with the introduction of newer devices that have a smaller footprint and lower costs associated with them. That’s probably one of the biggest trends carrying over from 2022,” says Anthony J. Leccese, product manager, Rochester Software Associates. A migration of B&W jobs converting to color inkjet is one consideration. “Print buyers walk into print shops with the hope of getting material printed in color but are all too often met with exorbitant color pricing compared to B&W,” explains Andre D’Urbano, VP of sales, RISO, Inc. “The realization that their print budget will not allow for color printing is difficult. Inkjet enables print shop owners to introduce a third level of pricing where color output can be
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purchased at an affordable price that is well within budget. It's a win-win." There is still room for improvement here. "While there have been some im provements and new entries from ven dors that have made inkjet more acces sible, there's still work to be done. The price point on the output for inkjet is preferable to something like toner for many print centers, but it's still outside the reach of most small- to mid-size print shops. In some cases the machine is just physically too big for what they're trying to do, and in other cases it's too expen sive," says Leccese.
Embellishment, Specialty Solutions There is also a spotlight on embellish ment, specialty medias, and expanded color gamuts-all elements help add val ue to printed output. Jon Congdon, manager, Skandacor Direct, Inc., notices increased emphasis on digital print-especially inkjet-and embellishment. "With digital printers increasingly bringing print finishing in house, businesses aim to streamline and/or expand their operations, boost productivity, and meet the ever-demand ing lead times." The need to bring these processes in house has come to the forefront as em bellishment becomes more mainstream and demand for them grows. Mark Geeves, sales and marketing di rector, Color-Logic, says digital cutsheet and label press suppliers expanded their offerings by improving their white ink and toners as well as adding specialty 3. The SCREEN Truepress PAC830F is a wa ter-based inkjet press. 4. To support embellish ment, S-One Labels and Packaging offers its Cat Pak system, which utilizes a high-resolution print bar powered by JetFx.
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inks-e.g., neon/fluorescent and expand ed color gamut for gamut expansion. "These specialized inks/toners enable printers to meet their clients' needs for differentiating products on the shelves." The challenges here involve educa tion and training of printer personnel. "Printers continue to automate produc tion processes, but our industry has an older workforce. As we bring new indi viduals into our industry, the require ment for education and training only increases. Although designers need to know what is possible with digital and conventional print, most designers are not being trained to create files for print ing," shares Geeves. Chris Van Pelt, president, Therm O-Type, also notes a significant push to switch from A3 plus to B2 sheet size. "Printing and finishing equipment up grades require significant investment in money and space in plants." Kevin O'Connor, VP, channel market ing and planning, Quadient, points to more use of color and specialty papers to increase response rates as a trend throughout 2023.
Sustainability Sustainability remains top of mind as pressure mounts from all sides. Whether it is using recycled papers, reducing energy consumption, or the impact of processing chemicals in off set, print is making an impact on the environmental future, and digital offers a cleaner and more sustainable method of printing, shares Zellmer. Ernie Crawford, president/CEO, Crawford Technologies, notes an es calating demand for sustainability and
social responsibility among stakehold ers like consumers, investors, and gov entities. ernment "Recognizing and integrating these principles into busi ness operations has become essential for attracting top talent and securing government contracts, thereby guaran teeing sustained prosperity. Prospective employees actively seek roles within purpose-driven initiatives that contrib ute positively to society and long-term outlook, preferring businesses and orga nizations that prioritize ethical conduct. This paradigm shift is of paramount im portance and cannot be overlooked." As climate change gets more no ticeable, Randy Hardy, representative North America, and Thomas Schnettler, business development, Locr, point out that customers want to make purchase decisions with a lower impact on the en vironment and expect companies to be transparent about business values, sup ply chains, and working conditions. Julie Brannen, director, regional sales and sustainable solutions, Monadnock Paper Mills, sees a palpable demand shift towards environmental sustainability, with the market leaning heavily towards alternatives to plastics that hold their ground in performance metrics. "What became evident was not just a demand for claims of sustainability and efficacy but a growing insistance on third-party certifi cations to validate these assertions." While it remains a challenge, Powers stresses the importance of promoting the message that print is a sustainable option. "Our industry gets a bad repu tation with so many "go 'green,' don't print" messages. But the reality is that paper is one of the most sustainable resources we have, digital printing reduc es waste and obsolescence, and printed communications have a smaller industry footprint than digital communications.
Henze agrees, adding that the scarcity of qualified personnel creates a significant hurdle for businesses requiring creative recruitment and retention solutions. Mike Agness, EVP, Americas, HYBRID Software, points out that people talk about labor challenges—both the knowledge as well as availability, but do not exactly know how to address them. “Technology lets us meet these challenges, by automating significant rote tasks and leaving the very significant, unusual challenges to skilled help.” There is also a convergence of press hardware capabilities. “As a result, value and differentiation need to come from the software/workflow side,” points out Henze. “Streamlined workflows, automation, and emerging AI technologies can save employees valuable time, making them more efficient and allowing them to focus on higher value tasks. It also helps new, less experienced workers produce high-quality print results.” “There have been many discussions between vendors and customers about the roles to optimize printing. How do we accelerate software systems while also streamlining efficiencies to print? There are many discussions with printers about how to lay out jobs better and with vendors about how software can
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be built to make systems faster,” comments Agness. Automation includes the exploration of online channels and web to print (W2P). “The pandemic accelerated the shift towards digital, and 2023 saw extensive exploration of online channels and W2P solutions. Businesses leveraged these platforms to streamline operations and provide a seamless customer experience. The adoption of new technologies, particularly in digital finishing, was another notable trend. Companies invested in advanced equipment to enhance quality, reduce turnaround times, and meet the evolving demands of their customers,” offers Dmitry Sevostyanov, CEO, Customers’ Canvas by Aurigma. Accurate order estimating became crucial to ensure profitability on jobs, especially given the increasing competition and rising costs. “This required advanced estimation tools and processes to ensure each order’s profitability,” he adds. AI plays a big role in the future of digital print. “Although AI has not yet fully realized its potential in the printing industry, there was a growing interest among printers to seek value from it in 2023. Companies started exploring ways to leverage AI for predictive analytics, automation, and personalization,” states Sevostyanov. Santosh Mulay, VP, business development, InSoft Automation Pvt. Ltd., agrees, noting that workflow automation,
implementation of MIS/ERP, and print estimating solutions help to simplify complexity and ease of use.
Application Specific In addition to industry wide trends and challenges, each specific market segment faces unique issues and potential. Although, Mulay points out a migration from specialist printers to versatile printers, which produces multiple print products under one roof. Henze sees strong growth in packaging and a lot of interest and growth potential in direct-to-film printing. “Many print owners are looking at how to expand their operations into these higher growth print applications.”
Book Manufacturing Book printers continue to invest in digital printing to create agile organizations capable of better meeting publishers’ dynamic needs. “An increasingly fragmented industry continues to see book printers competing for a share of the market, with run lengths declining as publishers still grapple with the residual impact of supply chain issues. But the total number of book units sales in North America actually was higher in 2022 compared to 2019, the last pre-COVID year, and is expected to be higher when 2023 concludes,” shares Powers. Book products typically printed offset are moving to digital inkjet across all product segments, requiring advanced finishing in areas such as perfect binding, saddle stitching, and hardcover book production. “As publishers reduce quantities with just-in-time delivery, our customers are taking advantage of growing trends in inkjet digital printing and all the advantages it offers that deliver high quality and good output speeds,” say Wing and Martins. Salinas adds that bookletmaking has seen a resurgence in 2023. “We 5. The Therm-O-Type-Glue-Tech finishing system.
have experienced pre-pandemic interest in bookletmakers. “Labor costs are a large driver of this with print producers looking to do more with less. Secondly, printers continue to try and distinguish themselves from their competitors. New booklet makers are faster, can produce thicker books, and can do new things not possible before—i.e. gathering different size and weight stocks into a books with full automation.”
Packaging and Labels Within the packaging and label space, Hardy and Schnettler say ecommerce is constantly growing. “Packaging can be personalized and is an important part of the customer journey.” Short-run packaging is growing at double digit rates year-over-year, agrees O’Connor. Packaging in general is on the left side of the growth curve when it comes to digital print solutions, but Schlimme feels that once it starts to accelerate there will be rapid adoption and this market has the potential to radically change the game for providers because it’s business to consumer and runs are in the millions instead of hundreds of thousands. As customers look for print providers that offer labels and packaging at lower minimum order quantities, faster delivery, and more sustainable options, digital printing fits the bill. Dario Urbinati, CEO, Gallus Group, adds that the ever increasing shortage of skilled labor is huge for the industry and will continue unless changes are made. “Gen A and Z often don’t consider labels and packaging to be an attractive industry. They see it as being old fashioned and undynamic analog technology in a digital age. This is why we are prioritizing automation and digitization to streamline operations but also integrate new ways to engage future generates ensuring labels and packaging increases its relevance.”
Wide Format Leccese says wide format is still a growth area. “For print centers that are printing for profit, it’s probably the area that has the biggest margin associated with it. So from a profitability standpoint, print centers are seeing quite a bit of potential in wide format right now.”
Direct Mail One essential trend in direct mail is retargeting. “Direct mail retargeting has become more popular. You can capture anonymous website visitors’ contact information and retarget them with a mail piece to increase conversion. All printers should harness this technology to yield better results for their clients,” says Michelle Bocchino, director of marketing, DirectMail2.0. Increased postage costs is a challenge. Postage rates have been increasing steadily in recent years. Ten percent in 2023 alone and this trend is expected to continue. “This puts a strain on businesses that print and mail as they must pass these costs on to their customers or absorb them themselves,” admits Crawford. Bocchino points out that the U.S. Postal Service does offer discounts on postage when printers integrate mail with new technology and print techniques. Plus, digital technology integration improves the efficacy of mail,
which will increase campaign results and reorder rates, helping to offset those postage costs.
Customer Communications The most significant trend seeing in the customer communications management (CCM) space today pertains to the use of AI. “ChatGPT continues to grow exponentially. The use of AI has the possibility of being one of the most significant developments in human history and it is predicted that AI software will grow 50 percent faster than the overall software market. AI’s impact on the CCM industry will likely be profound, bringing transformative changes to the way businesses engage with customers, handle queries, and analyze feedback,” predicts Semanchik. In the continued move of more volume from physical print to digital, Semanchik believes that service providers and enterprises must have these options available—i.e. SMS, email, web portals,
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online payments-along with their print offerings to remain competitive in the future. "In the end, consumers require all available options when it comes to preference management and dictating how they want to be communicated with." 6. Canon recently introduced the LS2000 digital label press.
In the past, communications with customers were print-centric. Over the last 30 years these have slowly moved to digital channels. Since the beginning of the pandemic, these movements have accelerated. "Enterprise communica tions processing software is the glue that organizations use to communicate with their customers, employees, and suppli ers over the recipients' preferred channel
COM PAN I ES MENTIONED� seepage 1Bfor moreinformation. Canon Solutions America Color-Logic Crawford Technologies Customer's Canvas by Aurigma DirectMail2.0 Duplo USA Durst Eastman Kodak Company Epson America, Inc. Fiery Gallus Group HYBRID Software lnSoft Automation Pvt. Ltd Landa Digital Printing Locr MBO America & Komori America Monadnock Paper Mills Muller Martini Plockmatic Group Offline Business Unit Quadeint Ricoh, U.S.A., Inc. RISO, Inc. Rochester Software Associates SCREEN Americas Significans Automation Skandacor Direct, Inc. Therm-0-Type Transformations, Inc.
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csa.canon.com color-logic.com crawfordtech.com customerscanvas.com directmail2.com duplousa.com durstus.com graphics.kodak.com epson.com fiery.com gallus-group.com hybridsoftware.com insoftautomation.com landa.com locr.com mboamerica.com mpm.com mullermartini.com plockmaticgroup.com quaint.com ricoh-usa.com us.riso.com rocsoft.com screenamericas.com significans.com skandacor.com thermotype.com transfrm.com
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and format without rewriting all of their upstream applications," states Crawford. New laws and regulations are an ongoing challenge. Crawford says complications dealing with communica tions containing highly sensitive private information increase as laws and regula tions are introduced. These laws enforce privacy, control, access, and usage of data and force compliance at every level. This adds to the costs and complexity of doing business with critical communica tions and correspondence. Compliance and increasing regula tions continue to take their toll in the in dustry as part of this digital transforma tion. "Data security and privacy have never been more important. The cost of audits and compliance continues to increase and the fines can be crippling. These are concerns that all service providers and en terprises should focus on to both remain competitive and, in some cases, stay in business," shares Semanchik. Crawford adds that customers have more choices than ever before, a louder voice, and the ability to articulate what they need. "Customers are informed and empowered to share their experiences, likes and dislikes quicker than many or ganizations can react. Businesses that don't listen to their customers, that do not communicate effectively with their customers and participants effectively will become dinosaurs."
Year-End Notes As we close out the 2023 calendar year, it's tough not to hang onto discussions of an uncertain economy and staffing chal lenges. However, digital print technolo gies are poised to bring the quality, speed, efficiency, and automation necessary to usher the industry into its next phase. Our January issue will cover what experts expect in 2024. Find even more content on company-specific trends, challenges, and predictions at dpsmagazine.com. dps