How Production Color Inkjet is Changing the Print Application Landscape

By 2018, U.S. production color inkjet page volume will exceed that of digital color toner. The reason: inkjet brings to a higher volume band all the advantages of digital printing, including personalization, electronic collation, just-in-time manufacturing, workflow automation, and high-speeds and productivity. And that will transform the industry, enabling products and services that can’t be done with existing technologies.
These were among the points made by two InfoTrends Group Directors, Barb Pellow and Jim Hamilton, in a recent Xerox Business Development Series webinar, “Inkjet: Closing the Gap.” “High-speed, color inkjet is closing the gap between offset and digital print,” Pellow said. “What we’re seeing is high productivity and lower consumable cost that’s causing today’s run-length cross-over points to make digital printing very competitive with offset.”
Most inkjet growth is in what are the fastest growing digital printing applications overall: transactional documents like bills and statements; promotional pieces, such as brochures, catalogs and direct mail; and publishing applications, such as books, manuals and periodicals.

What’s Behind Inkjet’s Growth?

In publishing, inkjet presses deliver true on-demand printing, Hamilton said. Books aren’t produced until orders are received, turning the press into a virtual document warehouse. Pellow described eight areas where book production can benefit from inkjet’s capability to follow the demand curve more closely:

  • Pre-production support for very short runs of review copies, comps and sales samples
  • Risk reduction for inventory, warehousing and returns
  • Opening new revenue streams by better managing reprints, backlists and out-of-print editions
  • Accelerating time to market
  • Reducing cycle time for on-demand production
  • Enabling production of more specialty and self-published titles
  • Incorporating interactive components by moving more easily between print and e-books
  • Improving bottom-line business results

In direct mail and promotional applications, inkjet presses accelerate use of 1:1 and segmented communications incorporating variable color. Pellow offered six reasons why inkjet production is favored:

  • Plays an effective role in the communications mix—direct mail is 30 times more likely to deliver a response than email
  • Makes the impact and value of personalized color print more affordable
  • Accommodates the growing demand for more complex personalization
  • Produces direct mail that is highly effective for driving cross-media campaigns
  • Enables postal discounts
  • Delivers a strong return on investment

In transactional printing, inkjet presses enable the “white-paper factory,” as inkjet presses output full-color documents from white paper to eliminate offset pre-prints. Pellow offered five reasons why inkjet will improve transactional documents, particularly those that incorporate promotions:

  • Cuts through the clutter and gets opened
  • Gets read—a study showed consumers spend four to seven minutes reviewing printed transactional documents
  • Meets consumer preferences—57 percent prefer receiving paper bills and statements
  • Cuts costs by consolidating transactional and direct mail documents, lowering postage fees, and reducing calls to call centers
  • Produces TransPromo documents that can be integral to an effective cross-media marketing mix.

Acquisition Decisions

Inkjet presses typically require multi-million dollar investments and—to be cost-effective— millions of impressions per month. When choosing a system, Hamilton said, “Cost and productivity come first. Are the acquisition and running cost appropriate and in the right volume range?”
The next level of decisions is around print requirements, he said. Considerations include color, special effects, special inks such as MICR, page width and substrates—lightweight, untreated papers or heavier, coated stocks. And while acquisition costs can run into multiple millions of dollars, they still are a relatively small part of the overall cost of ownership. Service maintenance costs, inks and consumables, papers that can include specially treated and premium priced inkjet papers, and overhead costs should all be considered.
You can access a replay of the webinar here. A new season in the Xerox Business Development Webinar Series will be announced soon.
What gaps can inkjet printing close in your business?
On February 23 at Hunkeler Innovationdays in Lucerne, Switzerland, we launched the Xerox Rialto 900 Inkjet Press, the first-ever fully-integrated roll-to-cut sheet press that packs big performance into a smaller, more efficient, more accessible inkjet package.
Check out our blog to learn more, see the full unveiling on YouTube, or visit the Xerox Rialto 900 Inkjet Press on for full product information.

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