Is Print dead?
Mike Horsten, Marketing Manager Mimaki Europe B.V.
Print is something we don’t think about any more, we expect print to be there and we expect quality. No its not but it is changing. We used to print everything on paper but with then technologies of the last few years we have been able to start printing on all kinds of materials. With the introduction of digital print we have been able to generate more color output. More than ever before, we are changing.
Just think back, book printing was done with one color (black), than with the maturing of industrial silk screen and mechanical block printing we advanced to more colors on fabrics, cardboards, plastics and even metals.
At the same time the new way of printing was developed, the offset print. Offset printing became easy to use in the 1970’s and large presses arrived offering 4, 5, 7 or even more colors. Varnish and UV coatings to enhance print were now possible. Extras on top of the print were and are fashionable.
The entrance of the Digital printing arena made more possible than most people knew or even could imagine. The fast reduction of printing costs like making plates, cleaning and adjusting the presses are part of the past, we went to computer to plate and in digital we went from slow to fast in full color.
Digital printing today is a fact of live, we print twice the amount in digital than maybe only 2 years ago. Digital printing has evolved into a massive industry that does not look at the printing market alone. Most of your car dashboard is printed digitally or with traditional silkscreen where the screens where made digital basically printed. Points of sale, billboards, pens, lighters, backlights are almost always printed digital today.With the introduction of faster and reliable small format UV flatbed printers these markets will even grow faster.
Mimaki just introduced the UJF6042 small A2 format flatbed printer with resolutions up to 1800*1800 dpi, this is higher than the traditional offset print or even photo printing.
Realizing photographic imaging on a great variety of substrates enhanced the industries capabilities to produce different articles without losing the flexibility they are used too. This new equipment allows generating output on a multitude of substrates, not only digitally, but better than old technologies on glass, acrylic, wood or plastics. Even photographic imaging became possible with digital at qualities that the old silver emulsions could not reach.
But digital goes further, textiles have been traditional rotation silkscreen or gravure but due to the changing demand of the retailers, they want more on time stock. As for just few years ago the retailer needed to manufacture say 5000 pieces in red and 5000 pieces in blue. Butt if the blue garments where sold out he could not easily get new batch produced, as it would cost time and the volume needed to be big with the risk of overstocking the new color. So the large fashion retailers have been thinking and using the new digital print technology to print fashion on demand.
If stores sell more red then they produce extra red digitally, although the cost is higher per unit, the waste is less, there is less overproduction and the customer has a choice.
The biggest benefit is the retailer became flexible. So also in this case everybody wins with digital printing. Like I said, digital is something not only mind changing but it has changed the way we do business.
So enjoy print (digital or traditional)!