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PRIMIR Report Analyzes Sheetfed's Future

Press release from the issuing company

Reston, VA (August 07, 2008) To better understand printers' views on the future of sheetfed lithography, PRIMIR (the Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization) commissioned Reed Business Information to conduct a study entitled Trends in Sheetfed Lithography: 2006-2011.  The study addressed the commercial, packaging and specialty market segments in areas such as characterization and analysis of capital equipment purchasing practices, press format and configuration preferences, automation, inline technologies, and environmental and safety issues.

Commercial sheetfed printers interviewed report they plan to increase their dependence on automation in the coming years.  Several printers attributed stabilized print prices and higher profit levels to on-press automation and technological advances.  "Our all-time record is 14 jobs in a single eight-hour shift on one of our new six-color sheetfeds with an average run length of 2,500 with complete job changeover and startup.  On our older presses, we were lucky to finish three or four jobs per shift."

The study also revealed that while some printers are making great strides in implementing job definition format (JDF) enabled workflows, the vast majority of respondents appear to lack the workforce competencies required to market, implement and manage highly automated JDF workflows.

Not surprisingly, the study found that "environmental issues have crowded out health and safety matters," likely due to the ever-stricter health and safety regulations already in place.  Within the next three years, a majority of the respondents feel issues related to corporate social responsibility, sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions will affect their entire operation including their press and supplies decisions.  One respondent noted, "I have to admit we were caught a little off guard one day by the stipulation from our largest customer that we needed to help them minimize their carbon footprint in their printed material and collateral."  And, that customer wanted a specific plan of action with achievable and measurable goals.

The study revealed that a number of sheetfed printers also operate digital presses-but mainly as short-run, quick-turnaround imaging machines, and not to produce unique high-value variable data work.  For their 'bread and butter' work, these printers tend to favor 'utility-type' sheetfed presses (24" to 42") with perfecting and on-press coating or curing becoming the norm.  As they upgrade, among other things to secure flexibility in their product offerings, printers are looking for on-press automation and technological advances to cope with shorter runs, smaller formats and quicker turnarounds.

While sheetfed offset printers hedge their bets by maintaining their 'bread and butter' work on their 'utility' presses, at the same time many are challenging themselves to build a customer base and find profits in the use of specialized digital equipment.

Research for Trends in Sheetfed Lithography: 2006-2011 included a two-stage Delphi Poll of over 25 experts, a web-based quantitative survey with over 582 respondents, and over a dozen in-depth end-user and vendor interviews.

The study was distributed exclusively to PRIMIR members in early 2008 and is now available for purchase by firms throughout the print industry supply chain.  For ordering information, pricing, and a complete table of contents visit: www.primir.org.  Contact Jackie Bland, PRIMIR Managing Director at: [email protected], or by phone at: (703) 264-7200, x 211 with questions about the research or membership in PRIMIR.