Ed #16 Digital Possibilities

Growth in digital print

Print lives, and digital print is growing. According to Frank Romano, professor emeritus of Rochester Institute of Technology, here are some compound annual growth rates (CAGR), 2009–2014: digitally printed collateral, 14%. Digitally printed books, 22%. Digitally printed magazines and catalogs, 43% and 57%, respectively.

Interesting, right? In packaging, digital print growth is even more robust. Between 2009 and 2014, the CAGR for digital flexible film printing is 41% and in digitally printed package labels it’s 50%. Digitally printed folding cartons, 61%. Pretty big numbers.

Why is digital printing growing so fast in packaging? Supply chain efficiency, plain and simple. Shorter lead time, easier revisions, reduced inventory costs, reduced waste. Companies don’t have to print and warehouse large volumes. They can reduce quantities and order as needed, reducing the time, cost and waste to update ingredient lists, freshen packaging or introduce new flavors or products. Traditional limitations, removed. New horizons, opened.

Talk to anyone in the digital print industry and they’ll tell you the next growth area—and most see explosive growth potential—is production color inkjet. Because it has the potential to bring the advantages of digital print to high-volume applications. They can see a time in the not-too-distant future when digital inkjet will compete with high-volume offset. Currently inkjet can’t match web offset for speed and quality, but printing equipment manufacturers and paper makers are investing aggressively to change that.

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