rint, sign, and packaging companies needing to maintain margins and relevance with their clients, can look to digital printing as a useful, and for some a vital, piece of their capabilities.

Digital printing enables companies to expand the range of jobs they can produce and to pursue opportunities in new segments. Other sectors continue to see digital printing grow. For instance, we see digital printing making inroads in all label and packaging applications, albeit with varied degrees of penetration.

Those wondering how print technology will evolve in the near future can take some useful pointers from the solutions here now. The theory goes that, if you plan carefully, you can position your business to take a decent advantage of advancements in technology. You don’t need to have a crystal ball but you do need to understand what has gone before.

Innovation, an overused word that refers mainly to whatever feels new and different, continues at a pace in the world of digital production print. Innovation takes place constantly and those that don’t become overwhelmed by the dizzying array of advances in technology stand the best chance of taking advantage of the opportunities innovation presents to the market.

The saying ‘Less is More’, which began as an architectural description, applies to digital print production: spend less on hardware; print less in terms of volume; take less time to make the product; but make more profit: enjoy a bigger margin. So what has helped print companies to make more with less?

Automation, uppermost in the minds of companies wanting to save time and money, should rank as a major priority for all companies. Manufacturers recognise this and make major investments in research and development to help companies get and maintain an edge.

While new hardware may look similar to older models, manufacturers place a massive number of new advances inside their digital machines. Some new digital production presses can contain over 100 patents.

For example, Konica Minolta has placed the IQ-501 Intelligent Quality Optimiser into its latest presses. This advancement fully automates quality management on the Konica Minolta’s AccurioPress series so much that the operator never has to calibrate the engine. The company says this delivers a level of accuracy, consistency and repeatability second to none.

The Fuji Xerox Iridesse digital press offers an automated adjustment feature for improved image quality. It will apply a series of adjustments, at the customers’ preference, so you can perform these with a single instruction. This hands free auto adjustment frees up time for operators. A sequential operation that once took 11-12 minutes now takes just three and a half minutes. Back in the day, some operators would try to skip these adjustments, resulting in a poorer quality print. This no longer needs to happen.

The HP Indigo 7900 Digital Press uses automated colour management tools and an inline spectrophotometer to achieve colour accuracy and consistency across HP Indigo presses, sites, and time, as well as between HP Indigo and offset. HP PrintOS, a cloud-based print production operating system with apps, offers even more assistance to print companies needing to simplify and automate production on HP Indigo Digital Presses. You can access this open and secure platform any time, from anywhere.

Ricoh has developed its VCSEL (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser) laser beam technology to minimise colour shift, resulting in higher print quality with crisp text, fine lines, and realistic image reproduction. It achieves precise registration by emitting 40 laser beams simultaneously to adjust for sheet expansion and contraction.

The Canon C10000VP uses a built in spectrophotometric sensor to deliver feedback to the print engine to help ensure accurate colour reproduction and Multi-Density Adjustment Technology to deliver real time colour calibration.

How do those manufacturers’ innovations impact your business? Obviously, print managers appreciate how they free up operators to perform other tasks. However, the benefits of digital print advancements offer more than that. Since digital manufacturers began successfully placing these innovations into their engines, the market has seen a massive transformation in the quality and accuracy of the printed products coming out: good news for the industry and its clients.

Increasingly, print companies have stopped denigrating digital printing and have instead found a place for it in their businesses. Digital has grown to around 20 per cent of the print market but it has a greater value within that market than it once had.

Digital printing technology and solutions, which now serve as growth drivers in every segment of production printing, should form part of every print, signage, and packaging company’s strategy for success.

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