Many mom and pop printing companies continue to struggle as people are now ordering much of their printing online. In order to maintain viability in a competitive market, many small printers offer niche printing like offering customized print data or website design. Many printers have even added copy services to their menu of services to boost their clients’ need for quick turnaround. Some over hyped trends like 3D printers seem at first to be promising, but involve a tremendous investment in equipment costs, materials, and software. However, with a small amount of research – a traditional print shop could transform their existing equipment into a profit center through including inkjet technology to their menu of product offerings.
The Forgotten Printer in The Corner of Your Shop
Printers in the past have used different processes to proof their jobs before going “on the press”. Inkjet printers have evolved to become a very useful tool in the proofing process in lieu of the old method of converting film into four color proofs, a process called match prints. Although inkjet technology has proven its merits in the past for proofing- it has been largely overlooked as a profit maker. That is, unless you are a sign shop that utilizes the same piece of equipment to print their client’s posters, vehicle wraps, banners, and canvas reproductions.
The Evolution of Inkjet
Inkjet technology has developed significantly over the years to print onto surfaces that once were never thought possible. Although many offset printers use the paper materials for proofs, few are aware that the same machine can print on vinyl material, window screen material, and even canvas. Larger format inkjet presses can either be “sheet fed” to print directly onto foam core or printed directly onto rolls of fabric (through a heat transfer process). The technology of inkjet printers offers cheaper low volume prints, less waste, improved accuracy in impressions, and customized print options like variable data printing.
Thinking In A Different Direction: Breaking the vendor cycle
Many traditional printers prefer to farm out their simple sign work out to a local vendor; and although many arguments exist to support (lack of space, training, and supplies), there is still much profit that can be made off of these “one offs”. Adding digital/inkjet printing to the offerings of your shop has some immediate advantages: less preparation than traditional print products, easy proofing and editing, and the printing is ideal for quick turnaround. Although the embrace of this technology will certainly present certain challenges: there are the opportunities in terms of service offerings and increased revenue by keeping product “in house”.
Starting To Change to Digital Print
The traditional methods of doing things like storing thousands of reprinted shells to be imprinted with personalized information involve multiple passes, storage space, and cost of labor. Often those items that sit on the shelf end up becoming unnecessary and end up thrown away, a subtractive element to the profit model. However, inkjet solutions have the added bonus of one operator, same day printing, and almost no waste. Although the print industry continues to change, traditional printers need to look outside of their comfort zone to remain both competitive and profitable. The addition of inkjet print technology offers no more challenges than those that already exist in the offset world; at the end of the day it is all about going in a different direction than that other offset printer down the road. With some research and development of the technology, a print shop can now offer products with a more sustainable profit margin while offering premium “on-demand” pricing, quality products, and lowering waste costs.