By Bill Davison of Presstek August 29, 2005 -- We have seen an intensified level of interest in DI presses, with the second quarter of 2005 reflecting the largest worldwide unit sales number ever--with placement of a total of 51 direct imaging (DI) presses. This followed on the heels of very strong first quarter 2005 DI performance. As electronic communications alternatives place pressure on the market for offset print, new, innovative and more streamlined means of manufacturing print are the key to ensuring the future viability of the printed medium. I believe this resurgence of interest arises out of the convergence of a number of factors that have made DI technology interesting to a broader market. These include: Shorter Runs Shorter Cycle Times Attractive Price Points New Distribution Channels and New Markets Shorter Runs--Shorter Cycle Times If you have been hiding out in a Himalayan cave for the past several years, you may not have heard discussion about offset runs getting shorter while turnaround times demanded by customers are getting tighter with each passing day. But for the rest of us, this mantra is embedded in our brains--and in our business plans. Today's DI presses provide an ideal solution to meeting this market need. With more automation, increased ease of use and very high quality, DI presses are finding their way into a wider variety of printing establishments, from digital printers seeking an easier transition to offset, to offset printers seeking more digital workflows, to folks that have not even offered printing in the past, including photo studios and prepress shops. With the ability to go from a file to sellable sheets in less than seven minutes, DI provides a unique opportunity to meet that need for short run, fast turn, high quality work. While it used to be a "one size fits all" financial model, today there are multiple offerings from multiple vendors that span the financial capacity of almost any size shop. Attractive Price Points Another factor in the increased interest in DI is the new range of price points for these presses. While it used to be a "one size fits all" financial model, today there are multiple offerings from multiple vendors that span the financial capacity of almost any size shop. Printers can select from certified pre-owned DI presses, ease-of-entry models and high productivity models, as well as two-up and four-up formats, depending upon the individual needs of their businesses, their markets and their customers. New Distribution Channels--New Markets The third converging factor is the addition of a new channel of distribution for DI presses. Long a leading provider to shops with ten or fewer employees, ABDick has had exceptional success in placing DI presses in the short time it has been available through that channel. With the product in the portfolio for less than 60 days, an unprecedented 11 units were placed through the ABDick channel of direct and dealer sales in the second quarter of 2005. This clearly reflects a pent-up demand for the capabilities that a DI press can bring to bear at a price that is now affordable for these smaller shops. The Future of Print As electronic business communications alternatives continue to place pressure on the market for offset print, new, innovative and more streamlined means of manufacturing print are the key to ensuring the future viability of the printed medium . Affordable access to these more efficient means of printing, especially for the smaller shops, may go a long way toward stemming the tide of declining establishment numbers. We are encouraged by the stepped up pace of DI sales activity. The convergence of new market demands, new price points and new distribution channels to new markets has stimulated a new level of interest in DI technology--a technology whose time has come.