Digital inkjet technology has been a hot topic in recent years. Thanks to the accelerating rate of adoption and continuous innovation in software and hardware, the subject became white hot as the Inkjet Summit kicked off last Monday. Digital inkjet technology is important to the success of our clients’ direct marketing efforts, so we wanted to share the highlights of the event and key trends to be aware of.
This was the third year for this event, which started as a smaller group of early adopters and has since grown larger and more inclusive. Attendance was definitely up, with a wider range of companies sending employees to the event and with more representation across industries, including direct mail, book, general commercial, in-plant and even academic printers. This diversity results in a cross pollination of ideas between market segments and is one of the most valuable aspects of the event. With such a wide variety of expertise, it was clear that if you went in with an open mind, you would leave with fresh ideas.
The three hottest topics at the Inkjet Summit were:
- How to sell the value proposition of digital inkjet.
- Improving ink sets and color gamut.
- Understanding the impact and changes to your workflow to effectively support digital print.
The focus of the Inkjet Summit has started shifting to these areas as more printers begin the transition to digital print. As the velocity of digital adoption continues to increase, the more disruptive supporting a digital platform becomes.
If you recall my recap of last year’s summit, I described two of the biggest challenges facing the industry: developing more workflow solutions and having better paper options with shorter lead times. It was encouraging to see progress being made to address both these issues. A number of new vendors are jumping in to provide fresh products and services, including paper, inks, software, equipment, etc. The industry is finally starting to focus on workflow software, making products friendlier to new, more complex workflows. Paper suppliers are also making great strides forward in sheet quality, although availability remains an issue.
Looking ahead, the next big issue for the industry as a whole will be ink prices. Over time these need to come down, which will hopefully occur naturally as print volumes increase and manufacturing techniques improve.
The summit remains a great event for learning and networking. It also highlights the fact that buying a digital device is the easy part. The real secret to success is building your roadmap into the digital space. Late adopters may get a better first device, but you can’t put a price on the learning curve needed to make them successful.
I know we’ve covered a lot of ground, but there’s even more to share. Check back next Tuesday when I’ll recap some of my favorite sessions from the Inkjet Summit and describe the interest we received regarding our purchase of the Océ VarioPrint i300 and ImageStream 3500.
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