There’s no denying how much the inkjet market has changed in the last few years. It has come so far, so fast that it’s probably an appropriate time to step back and ask: Is it a cost effective printing solution? Does it deliver ROI?

Maybe the best place to start the discussion is around the cost to acquire an inkjet printer. Obviously, there is an initial capital investment. It is lower than some devices, higher than others. But what device is it replacing? Or, perhaps we should say, what devices? Often, a single high-speed continuous-feed inkjet printer can replace several less capable machines.

What capabilities does it make possible that weren’t possible before? Increased speed and wider media latitudes open up new opportunities for jobs that used to go elsewhere. And there are whole new areas of revenue that aren’t possible with an offset solution, as profitable as they may have been for you over the years. More on that later.

But that initial acquisition cost really is really an initial investment…in growth. That’s a plus.

But ROI also is a function of minuses—reducing costs throughout your operation. For example, our waterless ink technology prints on plain paper to make the cost of day-to-day operation more affordable. And while our aqueous-based inkjet printers use coated papers that come at a slightly higher price, they are also flexible enough to print on many materials beyond paper.

Do I buy the diesel engine with the corresponding higher price for fuel but higher day-to-day miles per gallon? Or do I opt for the gas engine, which might get slightly fewer miles per gallon but costs less to fill? We can’t answer that question for you. We can, however, offer a range of technology so that we can partner with you to provide the answer you need to be able to answer your customers’ demands.

With an inkjet solution, other things are reduced as well. Turnaround time is one. Work in progress is another. And waste. And labor. Consider that the traditional way of doing things has always called for thousands of preprinted offset shells to be printed and stored until a small amount of personalized information was added digitally. Jobs require multiple passes and multiple people. Because jobs take longer, they often sit partially complete, paid for by you, but not generating revenue. And to make sure enough of the offset shells are on hand to compete a job, a percentage are often unneeded and thrown away.

All of those are reduced with an inkjet solution. One day. One person. Virtually no waste. 

Which brings us to perhaps the biggest consideration of all. Productivity. It’s the game-changer that can make the ROI decision a virtual no-brainer. Right off the bat, the high speeds of solutions like our CiPress or Impika family of printers allow you to produce more in a shift, a day, a year. It’s an ever-present truth, not only about print, but about every kind of manufacturing. Produce more in a finite amount of time, and the costs come down. It’s true in every business, but nowhere more than ours. It’s that calculation that happens multiple times a day—is this job best produced digitally or offset?

That in itself makes the ROI of inkjet attractive, particularly if you are in the offset business and considering adding digital to your shop floor. Jobs that used to straddle that line between offset and digital now fit perfectly into the digital inkjet side of your business and contribute to its ROI.

So far, that’s everything you would expect in a discussion of ROI. But let’s take a slightly different look at a “return.” With a digital inkjet solution, personalization goes to another level. Rather than just the simplest levels of variability, virtually everything can be tailored to the recipient. And the results can be revolutionary. Response rates are often orders of magnitude higher than with a static printed piece.

Consider CW Niemeyer, who used a Xerox CiPress 500 Production Inkjet System to digitally printing 500,000 catalogs with a complex personalized front and back covers featuring targeted offers according to previous buying patterns. Customers who typically shop for fashion saw clothing images while customers who shop for housewares saw furniture. The results were dramatic, generating four to five times more revenue than static covers.

But even a personalized piece becomes static after it’s printed. Digital inkjet solutions have the unique ability to link print to the Web so that content, and your relationships with customers, remain fresh. Through the use of techniques that belong to digital alone, such as personalized URLs and QR codes, inkjet can continue to drive higher response rates in marketing campaigns and transactional statements as the years pass.

Factoring that into a calculation of ROI—with the huge pluses of added revenue and the “positive minuses” (if there is such a thing) of reduced labor, waste, storage, etc.—makes digital inkjet something worthy of a good hard look.

Because it really can change the equation.