large printing press

Why digital printing will complement – not kill – offset

by ​John Fulena
As we saw recently at drupa, the printing industry is an ever-changing world.

With new technology advancements rapidly coming to market, one dependable constant is that there will always be ample discussion around “what’s next.” And it’s easy to see why. Who wouldn’t want to know which innovations will emerge to make our working lives easier, performances better and our businesses more successful? While some predictions highlight incremental change, others forecast sweeping changes that overturn the current way of doing things.

Granted, more often than not a new piece of technology renders its predecessor obsolete – a natural outcome of our relentless pursuit for faster, more powerful and advanced tools to get the job done. Nostalgia aside, surely there aren’t many of us who miss the limitations of the typewriter, floppy disk or dial-up modem?

But it’s worth remembering that video didn’t kill radio; they just found different roles – and for the same reason, digital printing won’t kill offset.

The fact is digital printing is thriving across a range of media. What’s more, it is complementing offset. It stems from the same reason video and radio continue to coexist: Each exceeds at different things.

Proven for long-run jobs with static content, the combination of digital and offset enable print service providers to become one-stop shops.

Digital printing isn’t going anywhere

Digital printing is set to continue its growth across all applications up to and beyond 2020. In fact, Sean Smyth, consultant at Smithers Pira recently shared his Trends in Book Publishing insights which cited that by 2020 nearly half of all book titles will be printed digitally.

The process has certainly come a long way since its inception in the early 1990s.

There was a time when, to some people, digital printing meant settling for lesser quality. That’s simply not the case today. Digital printing delivers jobs more quickly. It also allows businesses to save money by only printing the exact quantity required. Perhaps the biggest advantage of digital is that data can be easily stored and updated, allowing changes to be made as needed, thus reducing the scope for waste. But while compelling, the benefits of digital actually highlight the significant value of offset printing. Proven for long-run jobs with static content, the combination of digital and offset enable print service providers to become one-stop shops.

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Today, print service providers are focused on finding the most optimal ways to adopt digital printing. But, in addition to integration, the obstacle of future-proofing major investment decisions such as a new digital print production system can be difficult to overcome. As a result, many are turning to third-party experts who can help centralize control of both digital and offset devices to cut costs and boost efficiencies.

Businesses want, and need, partners who understand their full set of complexities and challenges. For many of today’s printers, that includes getting the most out of both the offset and digital sides of their house.

The trick is to harness the power of digital print, data and innovative new technologies for multichannel production and communications environments. This allows print service providers to transform and grow their business.

As we saw at drupa, innovations will always be on the horizon.


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