Magical Digital Printing

Laurel Brunner's picture
Laurel Brunner

The graphics business casts a powerful spell. It has the power to shape what we know and how we learn, and this is very compelling. Print helps us to develop and express new ideas, so it exerts an irresistible pull. This may be why successful industry leaders in the graphics industry don’t necessary have a background in print.

In 1993 when Indigo and Xeikon technologies were introduced at IPEX, Alon Bar-Shany, General Manager of HP’s Indigo division, “had nothing to do with the printing industry, I was working in a global chemical company and had nothing to do with print. I actually heard of Indigo in 1993 from my wife Cathy who was a professional photographer, [and] was working on the Indigo annual report and was blown away from the technology and potential. I will say when I joined Indigo in 1995 I met the people who drove the innovation of the Eprint 1000 and IPEX 1993 – many of them – Alon Gazit, Shai Lior, Yoram Krivine, David Leshem , Pinni Perlmutter, Ezuz – are still on the Indigo management team today and have a lot to be proud of”.

Like all of us with a long history in the graphics business we operated in a very different world in 1993, as Alon describes: “25 years ago the world was static, no internet, long jobs, long term contracts. No one was fired for buying a Heidelberg (or KBA or Komori or Manroland). Pace was much slower. And most of global printing was done in mature markets – China was still a tiny economy.” Today those traditional expectations have been upended. This disruption is primarily down to the power of digital colour printing not only to tear apart extant models, but to fuel new ideas. From media design and expectations through to new business models and end user experiences, communications technology offers utterly unprecedented possibilities to engage. For all of us, as Alon explains, “time is the most scarce resource, and with smart print we can create emotions on demand. The consumer is in the driving seat. The world is global. Environment is more and more important. So the old world of long runs and mass production is slowly sinking.”

The old world is the foundation for the new and Alon says that “in 25-30 years, most printing will be personal and connected to AI, track and trace, security, VR. Most printing will be in China, India, Brazil, Indonesia etc – US and EU will still be large, but a much smaller part of the pie. That is if we don’t blow each other up by then.” Let’s certainly hope that doesn’t happen and that our industry keeps driving constructive communications, because communication is all. For Alon “I will be happy to still be around and healthy. To live in a world that cares about the environment, with less corrupt politicians, with tolerance for all religion, culture, sexual orientation. Where print is part of what enables humans to create, preserve memories, create emotions, innovate. IMAGINE…..” Making reality of what we can imagine is what communication is all about. And digital colour printing makes that reality that much easier to create and enjoy.

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The Verdigris Project investigates the environmental impact of print media and provides information about sustainability initiatives for the international printing community. Keep up to date with the weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner.