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Is There a First-Mover Advantage for Inkjet? Five Inkjet Early Adopters Share Their Experiences

Why would a printing business want to be an early adopter and take a risk on unproven technology? Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding spoke with five technology leaders using inkjet in quality-sensitive operations about their experiences as pre-release adopters of production inkjet presses.


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About Elizabeth Gooding

Elizabeth is the Editor and Co-founder of Inkjet Insight. She has a rare ability to see print related issues from many perspectives. She has managed creative teams on complex design projects, selected outsourcers for major brands and helped print organizations to retool operations, focus their market positioning and educate sales teams to accelerate growth. She works with a team of top analysts to translate experiences into tools, data and content to help print organizations evaluate the potential of inkjet, optimize their operations and grow pages profitably. She is a founding member of the Inkjet Summit advisory board, the co-author of an award-winning book on designing for inkjet and a curious consultant constantly seeking innovative ways to drive new pages onto inkjet presses.


By Andrew Tribute on Feb 09, 2021

I don't like being negative, but with one exception these companies are not the innovators. Japs-Olsen is the exception having started with inkjet in the late 1990s, the others did not move until at the earliest 2012. Also with the exception of Kodak and Screen (plus HP who are not mentioned in the article), the other suppliers were followers of the trend not leaders. I consulted upon and wrote about inkjet from the mid 1990s until I retired in 2012 and I saw many real innovators who did not wait until all the problems with inkjet had been sorted and worked around the early problems.There was a huge amount of innovative inkjet investment long before the dates the printers in the article made the move into inkjet. For an example for real innovation I don't think any company did as much to build their future around inkjet as King Printing who showed book printing would hugely change through use of inkjet technology from Screen and HP. There are many other early innovators who restructured their operations around inkjet. The book printing industry followed King's lead and the book publishing industry changed. There is no doubt that inkjet has fundamentally changed the printing industry and is also doing so in packaging printing. One could also say the next significant move with inkjet is the adoption of cut sheet inkjet that has been very slow to take off with companies including Landa, Konica Minolta, Xerox and others who are expected to replace a significant number of toner based presses.


By Elizabeth Gooding on Feb 09, 2021

Thank you for reading Andy. Sadly though, I think you missed the point of the article. It was not about OEMs as innovators or even print providers as innovators. It was about "early adopters," the people who take the leap on a new technology before it hits the market (and the relationship with the OEM. Sometimes a company can be both an innovator and an early adopter (like Japs Olson under the leadership of Pat Murray), but some early adopters are counting on their OEM to do the innovating for them. There are indeed many other innovators out there, often that innovation doesn't come from the press, but from the workflow and culture in which it is applied.


By Robert Godwin on Feb 12, 2021

All early adopters of any technolog innovation have one absolute guarantee: they will have stories to tell...


By Elizabeth Gooding on Feb 12, 2021

Robert - that is so true. And I love to tell their stories! Any inkjet users (or integrators) who want to tell their story - please get in touch.


By Andrew Tribute on Feb 16, 2021

I'm sorry Elizabeth but you don't appear to understand what I said. I am not talking about the OEM's being the innovators. With one exception the companies you mention are late followers not innovators. A true innovator is one I mention this being King Printing who saw the potential of creating a totally new approach to book production being the first company in the world to adopt continuous feed inkjet that allowed book publishers to change their business model from print and warehouse to print on demand. They saw the potential to take a new technology and create a new business approach that became the new standard. King Printing and a few other innovators perceived inkjet asa key to new markets rather than just transactional printing.


By Elizabeth Gooding on Feb 16, 2021

Hi Andy - I understood your point. What I said was that this article was not about innovators - it was about early adopters of technology. They are not necessarily the same thing. There is also a difference between companies that were tackling this in 2010s and those that are bringing on much more mature technology a decade later. In terms of innovators for books - the guys at Lighting Source are pretty amazing. I recently spoke with Japs Olson and The Lettershop Group about their innovations for direct mail and commercial print. TLG developed some truly innovative solutions and Simon Cooper has been able to take the patents on that work with him to continue the innovation at Simply Inkjet. Still good stuff happening - and still not what that article was about. But again, thanks for reading. I'm sure King Printing appreciates your support as well.


By Robert Godwin on Feb 16, 2021

Innovators, jumping in early, bleeding edge and all that. Last century, no really, Applied Graphics Technologies (long gone) tested Scitex large format (Outboard?) as a way to produce one-off billboards, marketed as 55 MPH art (a competitor branded it Drive-By art, tasteless). A clever agency saw our presentation and asked if each could be customized. Sure, with a little bit of prepress, it was easy. In this instance it meant that a regional campaign for the lottery could 'personalize' the billboard to the city where it was posted. Short run, personalized. Innovative? Methinks YES! Ultimately Vuteks replaced Scitex and grand format digital vanquished the 77" Miehle presses. By 2000 all grand format was digital, even in-store retail.


By Elizabeth Gooding on Feb 16, 2021

That's a great story Robert! I wonder if they did any measurement on the effectiveness of the personalized/versioned billboards.


By Elizabeth Gooding on Feb 17, 2021

Andy Tribute - I saw that the word "innovator" did end up being used in a subtitle in the article. That was changed from my original that asked "what does it take to be a first mover?" The article was not about innovators so that word is misleading and I understand your point. Hopefully it all makes sense in the context of an early adopter rather than an innovator.


By Robert Godwin on Feb 22, 2021

"That was changed from my original"
I am shocked, SHOCKED, that the Editor edited.


By Elizabeth Gooding on Feb 23, 2021

Yep, that is their job (and often my job.)



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