It’s been just over 20 years since the IPEX ’93 trade show when Indigo, the world’s first digital colour printing press, was launched.  In that time, digital print has taken the printing industry by storm.  In 2010, the digital print markets were valued at US$85.2 billion, the equivalent of more than 225 billion A4 prints, and is forecast to account for 18% of all print by 2016.  In short, digital printers are the most exciting thing that’s happened to the printing industry since, well, possibly since around 1439 when Johannes Gutenberg created the world’s first movable type printing press.  Digital print has taken off in a big way, and not just with the trendy media set in London’s Soho.  Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. Your print run can be for as little as one.  With traditional offset printing, customers tend to want print runs far exceeding anything they might ever need – just in case.  Up to 30% might go to waste as out of date stock.  But a digital print run can be for exactly the number you need, with an option to print more if required.  Digital data can be easily stored and updated, so changes can be made if further print runs are required.  This means that your marketing material stays current and accurate and contains no outdated information.
  2. Lead times are much shorter as a result of the minimal press set up.  Traditional plates and film are redundant, there is no press make-ready needed, no plate mounting, no adjustments, no ink keys.  There are fewer steps in the printing process, fewer people involved, and a product can be delivered much more quickly.  If you call your digital printer in London and ask for some more copies of your corporate brochure for a trade show next week, they could be winging their way to you that very day.
  3. The availability of short print runs means you can print different versions of your marketing materials, either for different markets or for use by different salespeople and executives, tailored to the needs of specific clients or prospects.  You could, for instance, have the details of your London head office on all your brochures but vary the accompanying regional office details alongside.
  4. For the reasons outlined above, digital printing is also very cost effective.  Traditional printing methods have quotas or minimum order requirements but, because of the flexibility of digital printing methods, such restrictions no longer need to be applied and allow customers to make financial savings.
  5. Digital printing is a much more environmentally-friendly method of printing and boosts the green credentials of any company.  There are no pre-press stages between the digital document file and the final print so there is no longer any need for film plates or photo chemicals.

Should all commercial printers “go digital”?  No.  There is, of course, still a requirement for traditional printing methods but digital printing comes in handy for small runs that require quick turnaround times.  Ask your printer about it.