Commentary & Analysis
Meeting the Business Challenges of 2008
Presstek finds customers looking for green printing and more By Betty LaBaugh -
By WhatTheyThink Guest Contributor
Published: February 19, 2008
Presstek finds customers looking for green printing and more
By Betty LaBaugh
As we roll into the 2008 show season, it is shaping up to be a busy year, with On Demand and PrintFest in March, drupa in May and Graph Expo in the fall. These shows give printers an opportunity to see the latest in technology, talk one-on-one with suppliers to the industry, and network with peers.
We learned that environmentally sustainable business practices are top of mind for printers, and for their customers.
So what are likely to be the key issues and concerns that printers will bring with them to these shows? At Graph Expo 2007, Presstek did a survey of attendees to take the pulse of the industry. We learned that environmentally sustainable business practices are top of mind for printers, and for their customers.
Key findings from the more than 450 respondents to our survey reflected increased demand for environmentally friendly printing solutions. These results support the recent PIA/GATF survey which revealed that more than 90 percent of printers believe that their customers will require green printing in the future. So while printers clearly see a future need for green printing, our Graph Expo survey showed a sense of even more urgency. There is an existing demand for environmentally friendly printing from print buyers, suggesting that printers will continue to investigate and adopt green processes and technologies that can also increase productivity and revenue. And they will do this to stay ahead of the curve of both customer demand and increasingly stringent environment regulations. Our survey found that more than half of respondents report that their customers are currently asking for environmentally friendly printing with some 38 percent reporting that environmental regulations are significantly affecting their business today.
Our survey also revealed other top items on their wish lists:
- Reduced turnaround times (35%)
- Lower costs (28%)
- Increased quality (18%).
- Finding skilled labor (28%)
As the Presstek staff heads out to 2008's shows, and as we make the rounds with our own open houses and customer visits, we will be bringing with us solutions to many of these urgent needs. We will be sharing stories from successful print service providers who have implemented Presstek solutions which helped them address these top concerns and grow their businesses, even while the economy is uncertain. Be sure to come see us at one of the many upcoming events in 2008. (www.presstek.com/events).
Streamlining the Print Production Process
As we have said many times in this space, our objective at Presstek, since our inception more than 20 years ago, has been to simplify and streamline the offset printing process. We found that there were two key elements to making this possible: automation and a chemistry-free production environment. And over the years, we have continued to invest in those two areas to continue to enhance the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of our products.
Removing chemistry from the process makes platemaking faster and more reliable. It eliminates steps from the workflow and removes the need to purchase, manage, store, dispose of and report about harsh chemicals. As anyone who has made plates with a chemistry-based process will tell you, there are many things that affect the reactions between the chemistry and the plates, many of which are difficult to control. And that means less predictability in the platemaking process.
Automation is the other key. By building intelligence into platemakers and presses, we again speed up and simplify the offset printing process. With a Presstek DI digital offset press, for example, ink keys are pre-set as the system is preparing the job's electronic data file for print. From job to job, ink levels are reassessed, and even as one job is finishing, the press is shifting ink coverage to meet the needs of the next job. All of that means that with a DI press, makeready is about 10 minutes, including imaging and mounting the plates, which is done on-board the press, automatically.
All of this adds up to a combination of factors that go a long way toward addressing the key issues identified in both our survey, as well as surveys conducted by the PIA/GATF. Their studies show that printers are also looking for:
- A greener printing solution that not only removes harsh chemicals from the process, but reduces paper waste and water usage
- The ability to deliver shorter runs faster
- Reduced costs for producing printed materials
- Improved profits. According to InfoTrends market research, job profitability is more than 13% higher on a DI press compared to conventional offset. And compared to a toner-based digital device, the DI press saves 50 percent on average per letter-size page,
- The ability to use less skilled workers in the print production process
In a time when business profitability and environmental sustainability are top-of-mind issues for print providers, we believe our technology offers the tools printers need to succeed in both areas. Be sure to come see what we offer at the shows of 2008.