With so much “web centricity,” print design is a graphics niche not to be taken for granted at marketing agencies and design firms. There is ongoing concern within the print and design communities that graphic arts students are graduating with only basic print knowledge. “I graduated [from...
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The aforementioned Smithers Pira figures include VDP output printed on digital presses as well as offset-imprinted and preprinted shells, the latter of which will fall by 0.5 percent annually by 2018. (Editor’s note: These numbers do not include catalog and packaging VDP.) Conversely, electrophotography is forecast to grow by 1.5 percent per annum, while inkjet is forecast to grow at nearly 10 times that rate: 14.2 percent annually. Likewise, full digital output is projected to almost double, from an 8.2 percent market share to 14.2 percent. Interestingly, despite direct mail declines projected at 0.1 percent per annum over the next five years, the VDP market opportunity is highest in direct mail at 264 billion A4 sheets (or equivalent) in 2012 and forecast to grow by approximately 19 percent overall through 2017, to 313.6 billion sheets. The detailed report, “The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017,” is available for purchase at www.smitherspira.com/future-of-variable-data-printing-to-2017.aspx.
“We started out 20 years ago as one of the first printers to do direct mail,” said Mail Print’s Danner. “We went from printing and mailing, to digital printing, to Web-to-print order processing, to cross-media campaigns. This is the next evolutionary step in that process, doing it all faster.”
Ms. Danner told the Kansas City Business Journal about a prospect on the East Coast who prints about 200,000 pieces of direct mail a month at a cost of nearly 30 cents each. “With our new technology, we can get the costs down as low as 20 cents. So there is substantial savings, and we can produce it a lot faster. The production time on that project goes from about 240 hours down to about 80 hours. So it can get to the market faster.”
Digital Nirvana blogger Heidi Tolliver-Walker observed in January, “As digital market share grows, so does the lure of VDP. Not just for personalization in marketing, but also for process improvement, cost reduction, and efficiency. In fact, these are the areas in which Pira found the opportunities for VDP to be the greatest. Process improvement is not sexy, but volume is volume,” Tolliver-Walker continued, “and the more printers start thinking of VDP as a process, not just a marketing approach, the more those opportunities will continue to open up. Plus, process improvement is an easier sell!”
Designing for Inkjet Web Output
Here are 10 inkjet design tips from HP:
- Use typefaces designed for digital. They will scale appropriately wherever they are used in your printed material.
- Test type sizes for readability. Some typefaces may be hard to see at small sizes. (Some output devices can print type sizes as small as 2 point.)
- Black type should be pure black and not composite or rich black. (HP black has the highest black optical density so you do not need to add cyan or magenta, making it more economical.)
- Use vector graphics for logos, line art and graphs. These enable our HP Inkjet Web press to deliver the smoothest lines and even tones.
- For best results always pre-convert spot colors to CYMK values or Pantone specification.
- If your files contain RGB images, let the RIP convert the image for print. This delivers the best quality.
- Eliminate any unnecessary transparency in images and other graphic objects. Why? Because transparency makes the RIP work harder!
- To ensure cleaner, crisper images use ones that have at least 300-dpi resolution; 600 dpi is recommended if the image contains text.
- Avoid converting files multiple times as this can impact image quality. Where possible, standardize on image file formats and resolutions.
- Aim for design templates that avoid saturated printed background colors as these soak the page in ink adding to costs for ink and cost of drying.