In the business world, the impact of color is proven. From brand identity to printed communications, color helps to generate interest and capture attention. In 2010, a survey of 1,500 consumers by Leflein Associates found that, given a choice of color graphics or black-and-white text, participants were more than twice as likely to open the envelopes with color graphics first. Once the envelope is opened, color plays a key part in ensuring that key messages are noticed, read, and retained.
Of course, the use of color in business communications is by no means a new phenomenon. But how color is used and the level of image quality that can be achieved continues to evolve.
Certainly, when it comes to inkjet printing, old ideas, based on a historical understanding of the technology, are being dynamically challenged. It is therefore essential for those businesses considering an investment into color print to fully understand the capabilities and potential of the latest continuous forms and web production inkjet printing technology in order to maximise investment return.
The Inkjet Evolution
Significant leaps have been made in the development of inkjet color. These technological advances enable users to throw off the shackles of the old school approach to color application and to realise the true value of inkjet color production print. One can point to a broad timeline of inkjet evolution.
Production Inkjet Development Timeline
1995: Benny Landa launched Indigo digital offset color printing.
2000: Traditional product development meant early color devices evolved from copier/laser printer technology. Quality was good enough for basic business document enhancement.
2005: Second generation technology had limited color profiling resolution with quality a long way from offset processes at production speeds/throughput.
2009: Near offset quality finally becomes a reality, but it has taken a radical rethink of the basic technology. The newest generation of print engines are designed from the ground up to function as inkjet web presses for the publishing and graphic markets. The addition of a specialised digital front end, combined with transactional workflow, enables fully variable content with near offset quality for the transactional application market. A production speed lower than comparable alternatives is the only drawback.
2012: High speed and game changing 4-up versions of web presses deliver a true challenge to the productivity and quality of traditional methods.
The very latest inkjet devices deliver improved print heads, faster print controllers, better inks, and faster and more productive print engines. In technical terms, this translates to1200x600 nozzles per inch at 600 feet per minute (up to 4,926 A4 impressions per minute) with full color gamut. And this trend is set to continue, as illustrated earlier this year when HP performed a technology demonstration at drupa with the HP T410 running at 800 fpm.
Nozzle redundancy technology has been developed to minimize print defects and reduce waste. And today’s very high quality print can be achieved on a wide range of substrates, from inkjet-optimised coated papers to more basic offset grade papers, through the use of bonding agent.
However, in many businesses, existing use of color remains inflexible. Generic offset shell stationary is designed to meet corporate marketing requirements and ensure color compliance, but these shells are often time-consuming to design and create, and legacy operational procedures make usage of multiple shell designs costly and slow.
Storage and handling costs against multiple shell designs are significant. And considerable wastage can occur when stock is deemed surplus because of obsolescence or damage. Consider also the loss of production during job changeovers if multiple shells are required for a campaign, and the difficulty in organising production to take full advantage of postal optimization.