Inkjet Printing is Changing the Commercial Print Industry
The US Department of Commerce reports that North American commercial print output revenues dropped by 8% from 2016 to 2017. This reality has print and mail shop owners seeking new ways to generate revenue or provide quality services for lower costs. Many see the inkjet printer as the best solution to current and anticipated market conditions.
Today, there are three print technology options, each with its positives and drawbacks. These are:
- Offset Printing. The image is transferred from a printing plate onto rubber, and then printed on the surface. With computer-to-plate systems, this process is now faster than before. Offset printing produces continuous quality with true colors and can print on a wide range of surfaces. The unit costs go down as quantities rise, which makes it a great choice for large runs but not small ones. The turnaround time is longer than with other options because each color needs to be applied separately and making the plates for each run takes time. For these reasons, it is not a practical option for personalized pieces.
- Toner Printing. This is also referred to as digital printing. Electrostatic rollers apply the toner to the paper without the need for a printing plate. This is a great option for small runs, black and white printing and personalized pieces. For the size of typical toner print orders, the cost is less. However, the colors aren’t as accurate as with offset printing, and fine details may be lost. In addition, toner can be expensive, print sizes are limited and the heat required to fix the toner can limit the options for print surfaces or warp them.
- Inkjet Printing. This system uses liquid ink vs. toner and can produce colors nearly as true as offset printing. In addition, it can print black and color at the same time and can print on larger formats and many surface types. They are simpler in design and more reliable than toner printers which result in longer run times. They produce prints of a consistently higher quality at faster speeds than toner printers and can print on a wider range of paper stock. The biggest drawback is the cost of inkjet printers.
Why Purchase an Inkjet Printer?
As stated above, inkjet printers can be expensive, so why take this leap? A recent study by NAPCO Research has the answers. They found that 86% of survey respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with their inkjet equipment. The study also found that the primary reasons for purchasing a commercial inkjet printer included:
- Faster run speeds and increased job volumes
- Produce smaller print runs
- Enables full-color printing on all jobs
- Lower cost of ownership than toner digital
- Less inventory overhead and product obsolescence
- More personalization/VDP
- Increased press uptime
Other experts in the print and mail industry cite additional reasons for purchasing an inkjet printer:
- Lack of qualified labor. The low unemployment rate means fewer people are applying for print and mail shop jobs. Inkjet printers are less labor-intensive so fewer shop workers are needed.
- Better margins. Inkjet printers deliver a quality product at a reduced price per piece costs as compared to toner printers in many applications.
- Expanded options. Wide-format printing options allow print shops to offer a wider range of services to its clients. Jobs can be printed by piece or by roll, depending on customer needs. Paper and finishing options are also greater than those available with toner printers.
Inkjet printing is viewed as the best way to stay competitive in today’s tight print and mail industry. It can lower the cost of direct mail pieces while offering a greater selection in style, colors and finishes with shorter turnaround time. Purchasing this equipment isn’t for everyone, and a total cost of ownership assessment should be completed before taking this step.