Graphic arts professionals count on digital technology now more than ever to boost productivity and increase their bottom line, writes Warren Rother:  Indigo Business Development Manager: IPG at HP SA. Constant innovation in this industry is paramount to ensure superior quality that paves the way for fresh business prospects.

Commercial printers who have not yet embraced the world of digital printing should rethink a future without this capacity.
It is widely known that digital printing is not cheap on long-run, static jobs, yet its move into the mainstream makes it a technology that is increasingly hard to ignore.
Most customers today use digital printing to perform high-quality, variable data, short-run and/or fast-turnaround jobs.  For many printers, using a digital press has become a straightforward production decision. Moreover, the print quality is such that most printers say their customers can no longer tell what has been printed digitally or not.
Based on the recent sales of digital presses around the world it is evident that it is not just traditional printers that are investing in digital presses. Repro-houses, in-plant printing facilities and standalone businesses are already using this technology.
It is unfortunate that many commercial printers still opt to offer conventional print because they are losing out on vast opportunities, based on the growing space of digital printing.
It would be a wise business decision to add a digital press to your company’s inventory list.  Why?  You may ask…
In a report by InfoTrends – ’The Cost of Colour Print’ it was found that 69.9 percent of all commercial colour jobs can be printed cost-effectively on digital press.  With this finding as a basis, it is safe to say a higher proportion of jobs are within the range of cost-effective digital production.
The same report presented evidence that the cost of digital print had fallen by 58 percent in the past decade. This drop has not been matched by similar reductions in conventional printing, where costs and press speeds have remained the same.  The fall in cost of digital print does not only make it affordable but also adds value, because its versatility remains high.
Furthermore, there has been a great redistribution of what is printed, largely due to the worldwide web, which has led to the market for commercial print’s continued expansion. Current projections suggest a growth from 15-trillion pages in 2007 to 17-trillion pages in 2010.
One of the reasons for this is that digital printing has enabled documents that were previously duplicated by other means to be commercially printed.  Digital Press owners are able to print short-run, one and two-colour jobs both cost-effectively and profitably.
This is enabled by the use of standard file formats so that different jobs can flow into a digital press without interruption, with instant switching between mono jobs and those that require up to seven colours. Large, multiple paper trays mean that substrates can be switched just as easily, making production more efficient than ever before.
Customers need to look at the breadth and depth of services and support from suppliers before investing in digital printing.  Commitment to suppliers is also an imperative to consider.