The economic conditions in 2009 and into 2010 may have helped the number of monochrome printing jobs. For instance, customers might have evaluated whether to do a print run or not and considered printing in monochrome as opposed to color versus not printing at all. The increased adoption of electronic bill presentment will also affect the total volume of mono print as will the move to transpromo almost exclusively to a color application.
Finally, the improved print quality of both cut-sheet and continuous feed printing systems are opening up more book printing opportunities that many publishers are finding attractive for shorter run lengths or audience-of-one titles.
Forrest Leighton, Canon U.S.A., Director of Product Marketing, Production Systems Division
The industry as a whole is currently witnessing a decline in demand for strictly monochrome digital work. This decline is primarily seen in static work, such as forms or other commodity products. One key to growth in monochrome is embracing variable technology for personalization and then leveraging available technology to productively do more complicated jobs, such as those jobs that require multiple color inserts, tabs, or finishing.
Print service providers (PSP) can easily differentiate themselves by leveraging the technology and services they can offer a customer. In-office copiers have specific applications that they are most suitable for, but when it comes to higher run, higher quality production of complex documents, including finishing, a PSP can generally produce this type of work more cost effectively than a typical office copier.
PSPs should also focus on more than just marketing their monochrome business, especially if they can leverage color technology and other services.
Kurt Konow, Ricoh Americas Corporation, Data Center Segment Marketing Manager, Production Printing Business Group
Due to the tough economic times, there appears to be a shift away from color to the use of monochrome, especially for non-critical documents. Customer centric documents continue to be done in color. One area of growth is personalization jobs—jobs that relate to the recipient on a personal basis.
[As for whether a job should be produced digitally or offset,] basically, you should process the job based upon the particular variables at play. Most printers know their costs. If they don’t, they should start there. Then you start factoring in the other variables: time to produce, type of substrate, quality, type of piece, finishing requirements, customer preference, other jobs in the queue, when is it due, how is the copy delivered, etc.
In general, processing of digital files is less labor intensive than offset, as well as the production of the sheet. If offset workflows were the most cost effective method, we wouldn’t see nearly as much migration to digital as is currently being experienced by the industry. The fact that we are seeing the shift of work from offset to digital supports the conclusion that digital is more profitable.
Eric De Goeijen, Océ North America, Production Printing Systems Division, Vice President of Marketing
Newly introduced technology innovations have pushed digital monochrome production into new standards. We see new speed benchmarks and duty cycles up to 10 million prints per month. True digital perfecting technology has improved registration to match that of offset and enables applications that weren’t possible before. Print quality and workflow flexibility, have also opened doors to new ways of working, as well as integration with color workflows for job splitting and combining.
Across the board, we see the typical monochrome digital applications decline, but many customers are successfully growing their monochrome jobs by looking at migrating offset applications to digital and so enabling new print-on-demand or book-of-one business models. Other typical monochrome applications like statement printing get a new boost if the content is enhanced with advertising.