There’s money in them pictures. In 2010, Instagram reported more than 100,000 users; by year’s end 2012 the photo-sharing app had warped speed to 15 million users. Where there are photos there are custom photo products—already big business. InfoTrends, in its 2011 Photo Merchandise...
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Segnit also advises looking at your manufacturing capabilities, and seeing what is a good fit. “What are the applications I can do to enhance our digital printing operation? If all I have is signature binding, that puts me in one direction, or perhaps I can partner with others that have other binding capabilities.”
The current crop of digital print machines—from Xerox, HP, Ricoh, Océ, and Kodak—are capable of delivering high-quality custom photo books, calendars, and cards.
“All of the production presses we make are photo capable,” says Segnit. “But the business is much more than a digital printer. We also offer media—substrate and paper that allows you to create something unique.”
Xerox also developed “Picture the Possibilities” business development tools to educate customers on how they get enter into this market and expand their business.
“We find that photobook customers are looking for high quality imaging with accurate color reproduction as well as the ability to print on heavier papers, and even textured papers,” says Wong. “Products like the Ricoh Pro C651EX/C751EX support paper weights up to 300gsm in simplex and print on textured papers like linen with high quality results, and can be interfaced with advanced finishing options to produce finished saddle-stitched books with three sided trim for a professional look.”
Ricoh also offers a Media Qualification Process, which allows the company to confirm the runnability of a particular stock, as well as determine the optimum printing parameters of a stock. ?
“End customers are constantly asking to print on a wider variety of media to further enhance the finished photobook, which sometimes pushes the capabilities of the system,” notes Wong.
For high-quality photo applications, HP consultants work closely with a network of partners to offer printers highly customized end-to-end solutions, says David Murphy, Director of Market Development for HP Graphics Solutions Business. “These solutions address stringent quality and workflow requirements every step of the way.”
For customized low- to mid-volume yearbooks, for example, HP offers PhotoLynx’s CamLynx DataMatch, an on-site capture and data collection system that uses professional digital cameras to produce digital output for event, school and sports photography, integrated with LumaPix’s FotoFusion, an image layout software program to take full advantage of the flexibility of all-digital layout.
Prepress solutions include Ultimate Technographics’ Impostrip Book Stacker, enabling Web-to-print photo book printers or any digital book printer to streamline workflow by automatically grouping various books together as they are prepared for production, says Murphy.
HP Indigo offers a variety of digital presses, including the HP Indigo 5600 and 7600 digital presses, both now able to produce special effects, including textured print and digital watermarks. Finishing and fulfillment options include the cutting and stacking Page Ready system from LaserMax Roll Systems, as well as a selection of perfect binders and three-knife trimmers from Horizon International and CP Bourg.
Also in the finishing arena, Duplo USA Corporation has expanded its line of equipment for the on-demand photo book industry, entering into an agreement with Photobook Technology PBT to distribute its Mitamax, Mitabook, and Mitacase products in North America.