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Print is Not Dead

Tony Rampolla
05/21/2020
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It’s easy to look at people with their heads buried in their phones or iPads and assume that print is dead. The digital revolution has undoubtedly changed the way people consume media, but we all know that printing isn’t dead. It may just need some help.

Print is not dead. In fact, commercial printers that can offer enhancements will differentiate their services, grow their business and improve profit margins. Successful commercial print offerings are not just about ink on paper anymore. It is about finding ways to make printed materials, packaging, and other media capture consumers’ attention the way a tiny screen cannot.

Starting Small

The packaging industry in the US is growing and will continue to grow for at least the next 3-5 years. In addition, there is a growing need for short-run jobs with quick turnaround times that large packaging printers will not be able to accommodate efficiently. This trend is creating an opportunity for commercial printers with a minimal amount of change to their core business.

Package printing has become more than just static print running on offset and flexo presses. Printers need to be able to offer special editions, re-releases, and personalized products, which all fit nicely on a digital press and offer those faster turnarounds customers will be expecting. Furthermore, if you specialize in folding carton work, why not run new packaging design on a digital device and then send it out for approval? Fit, content, and color accuracy can all be achieved to match the final production run.

Prototyping the Future

Along with this need for short-run packaging will come an opportunity to offer design and prototyping as a new revenue stream. Package prototyping is another area where printers can differentiate themselves and win lucrative new business. Prototyping is typically a one-off or short-run job, which will usually be used for fit and content. Still, it also does a good job of representing the finished piece without the substantial investment of a typical press run. It is a great way to win long-term business by proving yourself to new clients.

With finishing technology like the Duplo DPC-400 Digital Die Cutter, printers can create short-run packaging and then cut the printed pieces without the need for a physical die. The DPC-400 can cut, kiss cut, and score a wide range of substrates, including laminates, adhesives, and synthetic stocks up to 14” x 20” in size. The Duplo DPC-400 is the perfect device for environments where a 4’ x 8’ routing table just physically won’t fit.

Don’t Forget the Embellishment Opportunity

As part of the packaging print process, there will be a need for UV or aqueous coating. Although specialized, many manufacturers formulate coatings for digital (toner) printing. Smaller offline coating devices like the Duplo 200 PRO, for example, apply a high-quality gloss or satin finish to a wide range of offset and digitally-printed applications at a reasonable price point. Depending on what kind of result you want to achieve, coatings work to enhance the desired outcome. You can flood coat to protect the printed piece or spot coat to extenuate an image or graphic and make it pop off the page. UV coating is exceptionally durable, which makes it useful for mailed pieces to protect against scuffing. Most coatings are free of solvents and do not emit VOCs when cured, meaning they are environmentally friendly.

Many printers realize that printing is not just a job, but it is an art. Those that can deliver craftsmanship and innovation will thrive, even in a digital world. Printers need to be nimble and flexible, which means small to medium-sized print businesses should be able to capture more specialized work. If you are interested in some of the ways digital print and new finishing technology can help your print business grow, talk to the production print specialists at the Gordon Flesch Company.

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