News . Print Solutions

05 Feb 2018

The Digital Revolution

It’s hard to pinpoint the ‘tipping point’ when digital printing presses changed from being ‘newfangled’ to an essential tool in the armoury of the modern printing company. Kemtek has led the introduction of digital printing equipment to South Africa, and we are keen advocates of this technology because of the many advantages of a digital printing press.

The good old days?

Flexographic and offset printing presses still have an important role to play. Although they involve higher start up costs (such as those involved in offset plate preparation, ink mixing and calibration) they offer excellent value and very low cost per item for large runs of identical printed items. The set-up costs can be prohibitive for small runs, but diminish rapidly as a factor in cost per item as volume increases.

Both offset and flexographic printing offer very high quality, but with the trend towards customisation and bespoke packaging (for example) and ever-shorter turnaround time demands, there is a need for printing presses that can rapidly and cheaply produce numerous variants of the same article. That’s when digital printing equipment comes into its own.

Even Better than the Real Thing?

Digital printing presses do away with plates entirely – reducing setup costs and time – and print directly onto the substrate. While there were some minor quality issues with the very first digital printing presses, only a trained eye can now tell digitally printed articles apart.

Saving All the Way to the Printing Press

The cost-savings associated with digital printing have been well-documented, but it should be noted that these only apply to smaller print runs. When it comes to large volume jobs, offset printing can still deliver a much lower cost per unit, even when the start-up costs are taken into account.

The ecological savings that come with digital printing have received less attention. These are a major advantage, however: the absence of plates means fewer chemicals being used, and less potentially harmful waste being generated.

Digital printing equipment can also save time – when clients require a quick turnaround (and let’s be honest, when don’t they?), digital printing can shave hours off the initial setup time. This means that you can start printing that much quicker, and your printing presses will have less unproductive downtime.

Small is Beautiful

Small batch printing is where digital printing really scores. While more traditional printing presses still offer economic advantages for volume work, they cannot compete with digital when it comes to rapidly producing a small number of high-quality labels or other printed items.

We live in a world where ‘mass-produced’ is out of fashion, and customisation is king. Consumers want everything in their lives to be tailored to their precise desires, and this even extends to the packaging of the goods they purchase.

Thanks to variable data printing, a digital printing press can generate multiple versions of the same item – something that would be potentially very costly and time-consuming using offset or flexographic printing. The potential is endless, whether you’re printing bar codes, personalised confectionery wrappers or wedding invitations.

Hp Indigo Digital Printing Press

Your Flexible Friend

Today’s consumers are fickle and seem to have ever-shorter attention spans. This means that clients feel pressurised into changing their packaging more often, and coming up with increasingly creative ways of getting their message across.

The costing model of traditional printing methods meant that clients often had to commit to using the same printed items for months or even years, and could not be as agile as they might be. Now, with the option of digital printing equipment, clients can change their minds as often as their underwear, and always keep abreast of trends.

Digital’s combination of accuracy, flexibility, and responsiveness may not have rendered offset and flexographic printing presses obsolete, but digital printing capabilities are a powerful addition to any printing house.

Examples of digital printing press items