There is a move—especially among the franchise segment—to an all-digital output model. This can be very efficient and profitable for some work, but is limited is other ways. Digital’s sweet spot is in shorter runs with fast turnaround, with or without variable. Longer runs and certain quality requirements still favor offset.
Some of the new all-digital models have recognized this and eventually have added CTP and offset to their shops to accommodate customer job demands. Others are approaching the dilemma somewhat differently and are outsourcing offset work, especially four-color jobs that can be efficiently gang-run. However, the majority of shops continue to operate in a dual configuration.
As the quick and small commercial printing industry continues to evolve, there is no doubt that offset’s share of sales will continue to erode, but with more than half of all of today’s sales it won’t disappear for a long time. Its place in the job mix has been enhanced by the advances in processless or chemical free computer-to-plate technology and, despite offset’s shrinking share of the job mix, modern CTP will help insure its viability in the years to come.