“Ink (Noun): A colored liquid used for writing, drawing, printing, or duplication.” The concept is pretty simple. Where it gets complicated is when you start looking at just what makes up this “colored liquid.” Depending on the particular ink, gum rosin, copper, benzene, titanium dioxide...
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When asked how a printer can deal with the higher ink prices without having to charge significantly higher prices to their customers, Gans’ Koppelman noted: “Over the years, offset ink’s contribution has averaged two to five percent of the finished job’s sale price. Even if the ink’s contribution was 10 percent, a five percent price increase to the printer would represent a one-half of one percent cost addition to the final job. I really don’t feel that ink is a major contributing factor to any ‘significantly higher prices’ required to be passed on the printers’ customers.”
Offsetting Ink’s Impact
While it is true that offset printing still accounts for the majority of commercial print output, there is a sea change taking place that is driving the industry toward digital. Predictions are that more and more commercial print jobs will be moved from offset to digital. Will that alleviate the pain of higher offset ink prices? Perhaps, but the fact is that toner-based output devices depend on many of the same raw materials as does ink. So simply moving to digital probably wouldn’t solve the ink price problems.
Toyo’s Copeland takes note of an even more significant sea change in the commercial printing industry—diversity. “Some printers continue to reinvent themselves as print service providers, and no longer call themselves printers. They offer a larger portfolio of services, such as digital, printing fulfillment, marketing assistance, Web-to-print, Web hosting, etc., while placing greater emphasis on high-value-added print capability, upscale print or special effects. Those that succeed in making this transition tend to be better off than the average.”
In the end, the broader and more upscale the offerings, the less of an effect ink prices will have on pricing and profitability.