Digital printing technology has come a long way since it was first introduced to the world 20 years ago. Many developments have taken place post-drupa with commercial printing, and future innovations will also affect the packaging side of the business, says Ed Wiegand, Executive Vice President of The MATLET Group.
“After 20 years, digital printing technology is just now hitting the exponential growth curve. In the next five years, digital printing will be where the wide format industry was five years ago,” predicts Wiegand, who has 24 years experience and knowledge of print technologies and digital solutions.
Mr. Wiegand is serving as moderator for a distinguished panel of experts at a Dscoop Annual Conference seminar, “Unleash the Power of a Digital Workflow,” this Friday, Feb. 22. Joining him for the 90 minute session at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Conference Center in Nashville will be Monty Faulkner and Aaron Mallory of HP, Michael Naughton of Esko, Ken Meindhart of LabelTrax and Wes Harrington of AB Graphics.
Dscoop is a digital solutions cooperative of HP Graphic Arts users. The interactive session will showcase the efficiencies of a paperless MIS working seamlessly with an electronic press. Audience participation will include choosing non-processed artwork and placing simulated orders in real time to develop a finished product by the end of the session.
“This seminar will demonstrate there is a sequential, step-by-step process, but the true value with digital is it can be done extremely fast,” Wiegand said. “We have prepared a creative brief and we will involve the audience in a series of situations and the decision process, along with a live video feed, and do a job all in 90 minutes.
“I love the quality of digital printing technology and how it has evolved to where it is today,” continued Wiegand. “The first 15 years it was considered, with some perception and reality, only a step above desktop printing with small production runs. There was some interest from big companies but no tactical solution until HP Indigo unveiled their Series 3 digital printer in 2008. That’s when you had a sheetfed and rollfed solution that could truly change the game.”
Mr. Wiegand’s history includes working with top packaging companies such as Proctor & Gamble, L’Oreal, Johnson & Johnson and others. He recalls that initially, small private label customers led the change to digital quicker than the larger corporations, mostly due to inaccurate pre-conceived notions about quality and other concerns.
“The people who have been more successful with digital in the last five years are the ones who took a clean approach to it. They had no previous opinions that were good or bad. Companies like VistaPrint and Shutterfly were the biggest benefactors of switching to digital because they embraced it. Mimeo found a niche audience with their commercial printing capability.
“Our intent at the Dscoop8 conference is to educate the audience and show them what’s possible today due to the advances in technology. Packaging is trailing in the transformation to digital printing but is coming on strong.”
Wiegand acknowledges that excess capacity, misinformation and other issues can be viewed as a double-edge sword. Education on the latest transitions and developments for commercial and package printing presents an interesting opportunity that he believes will be hard to ignore.