By Frank J. Romano February 7, 2006 -- Digital color printing, as we know it, was born in September, 1993, when Indigo and Xeikon introduced the world’s first digital color printer/presses. These two machines are today part of product lines that total over 20 models for almost any price/performance requirement. At first, the printing industry was reluctant to apply this new technology. But that is no longer the case. Printers of all kinds have discovered that digital printing opens new markets, offers new services, and generates new revenue streams. In many cases, innovative printers have found that digital printing complements offset lithographic printing, and actually increases offset work. Major trends in digital printing 1. The present and future of the printing industry includes digital printing. 2. Digital printing will both complement and compete with offset litho, as well as screen and flexo printing. 3. Digital printing will use toner, ink jet, and other substances to image on paper and other substrates without the need for plates. 4. Digital printing eliminates make-ready, which is why it is on-demand. 5. All printing processes will soon share the same digital infrastructure. 6. Workflow is and will be everything. 7. The competitive climate in the printing industry is undergoing drastic and turbulent change as marketers expend their ad/promotion dollars across multiple media. 8. Print buyers are now buying digital output for many of the applications where offset once dominated. 9. Networked laser printers are challenging copiers; copiers are challenging digital presses; digital presses are challenging offset; and ink jet may challenge everything. 10. Digital printers now positioned between digital presses and full-color copiers offer compelling quality and pricing. 11. Color management software and system controllers used in laser color printers are raising the levels of color consistency. 12. Offset printing is evolving to provide more economical and more competitive approaches, but some of its volume will continue to erode. 13. Variable data printing is a major opportunity for printers because it expands the range of ancillary services that may be offered, such as mailing, fulfillment, and personal web sites. 14. Digital printing quality is no longer an issue; however, productivity, reliability, and sheet size are issues. 15. Digital printing will be applied to signage, artwork, packaging, label printing, point-of-purchase, converting, corrugated, and other printed products. 16. Digital printing will affect every facet of the printing industry.