Members of our Operations and Marketing teams were in Chicago last week for PRINT 17. We came away with a lot of great information and wanted to summarize what we learned from a research and development perspective today, while recapping the conference through a marketing lens on Friday.
One of our primary objectives for attending the event was to stay on top of the latest advancements in technology for both hardware and software in the printing and mailing industry. We were not just looking at equipment, we were investigating all aspects required to deliver a quality product for our customers. This can start with the front-end software and continue through to proofing and all the way to production and the delivery of the end process. By taking a holistic approach to technology and innovation, like we did at PRINT 17, we can positively impact the variety of products and features we offer as well as the agility and time to market for our current and new products.
Digital Inkjet Technology was Front and Center at PRINT 17
PRINT 17 showcased a number of color digital printing technologies. The digital equipment manufacturers all continue to refine and expand their technology. For the high speed continuous web presses, the focus is on expanding the capabilities and ink options in order to print on untreated coated paper stocks and deliver quality that’s equivalent to traditional offset at a more reasonable price point. After years of development, this area is showing some real promise and will continue to be a focus in the near future. The expansion of additional colors and coatings on color digital presses is another area showing some real advancements. We will definitely keep our eyes on both.
Dynamic Finishing is Just Getting Started
Digital finishing is another area of growth and innovation that was showcased at PRINT 17. As software evolves on the ‘front-end’ (digital composition and print), it pushes advancements on the ‘back-end’ (finishing and inserting) to allow for more variation and flexibility. Easy changeovers between products and formats is essential, as well as a growing need for dynamic finishing to allow mixing formats in a single production run.
For those unfamiliar with the term “dynamic finishing,” here is an analogy: Today you can buy beverages in a 12-pack of cans or bottles in a specific flavor or in a set variety of flavors. In a dynamic environment, every 12-pack would be a custom variety of flavors specifically for you. It might even include a combination of cans, bottles, or other packaging options. Dynamic finishing does the same for print, offering greater flexibility and customization opportunities. There is a lot happening in the dynamic finishing area and it will be very interesting to see how things shape up in the coming months and years.
Digital print, finishing, and software continue to be the primary areas represented at the PRINT conference. We saw the continued refinement and sophistication of current digital print capabilities. Software also continues to evolve as the focus shifts to integration and flexibility across mixed platforms. As I mentioned earlier, finishing offered the greatest variation and will likely present some of the more significant changes in the upcoming months and years as the emphasis shifts to dynamic options.
All-in-all, it was a very productive and informative show for me and my colleagues, and it was nice to see a strong turnout. Every year we think we have plenty of time scheduled to cover everything, and every year we wonder how the days went by so quickly. In this dynamic digital age with fast changing technology, there is always plenty to research!
Let me know if you have any questions about how we plan to use technologies like the ones we saw at PRINT 17 to provide high-quality solutions for our clients. In the meantime, check back on Friday for a look at the conference through the eyes of our Marketing team.
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