Printers hope some of these attitudes will change as technology continues to improve. According to Paeglow, IBT has seen its recent growth fueled by high-quality output in monochrome and four-color digital processes. The quality of four-color printing has increased greatly over the past year, and along with it, the percentage of color digital printing, to the extent that Paeglow predicts it will outpace monochrome in the not-too-distant future.
Big news at the Drupa show in Germany, which wrapped up June 11, was the introduction of several digital ink-jet systems, including Hewlett-Packard’s new Inkjet Web Press. Well before the show comes around again in 2012, industry watchers expect ink-jet to be making available longer print-run capabilities at a lower price than currently available.
“Because of the speed, because of the width of the system, because of cost per page, both in monochrome and color, it’s not going to happen tomorrow, but within the next 2 or 3 years, we are going to see a jump in the kind of things that can be produced digitally compared to what is done today,” says Biscos. “Ink-jet gets us closer to offset, while still keeping the benefits of digital in terms of print-on-demand—no waste, no warehousing and additional sales. So you have the benefits of digital while getting closer to offset in terms of pricing.”
Paeglow agrees that the impact of ink-jet capabilities, while still some 18 months away, could be very significant.
“That’s the next step, the next evolution,” he says. “With this, we might be competitive in the 2,000-3,000 copies area. That’s very significant because it wipes out all sheet-fed, offset printing.”