Digital printing has been around for more than 30 years, and the industry has come far from what it was in the ‘90s. Groundbreaking new technology, as well as changes in customers’ expectations, have changed the landscape of digital printing, and the sector now offers more than ever to customers both private and corporate.
One of the most respected custom printing services in Australia, MyPicture.com.au, argues that there are 5 key trends which are revolutionising the industry. In this article we’ll look at each one in turn.
1. New Interest in Personalized Prints
Customers increasingly demand a personalized experience, so companies are responding by seeking new ways to customize their product range. The printing industry is no exception – the demand for personalized prints has been growing for years now. And these days buyers can upload their own photos and get them printed as custom wall art – in the same top-end quality you’d expect from reproductions of professional photography or fine art.
Higher demand for personalized photo merchandise – photo mugs, mousepads, puzzles, calendars etc – has also changed the industry. Printing providers that want to stay competitive need to broaden their product range with innovative new photo-accessory ideas.
2. New Printing Substrates
Until recently, photo prints were mostly limited to reproductions on photo paper. This printing medium is still fairly popular, and it certainly has its advantages, but there are new materials quickly gaining popularity among pro and amateur photographers.
More and more companies are offering canvas, metal and acrylic prints, as well as photo reproductions on hardened PVC foam. The best providers invest in research and development before adding new substrates to their product range – for example, MyPicture.com.au designed a special canvas fabric that’s a perfect match for the HP latex inks they use in printing.
3. A Shift to Sustainable Printing Materials
People are increasingly concerned about the environmental footprint of the products and services they consume. This means companies that invest in sustainable technologies are more likely to win loyal customers. And digital printing has the advantage here over more traditional techniques, because creating an image reproduction doesn’t require a plate.
MyPicture.com.au lists three key factors that define sustainability in printing: responsibly sourced materials (such as the wood used in frames); solvent-free inks containing no harmful compounds; and a reduction in the use of lamination where possible.
4. State-of-the-Art Printing Equipment
Another thing that print providers need if they want to compete in today’s market is consistently excellent print quality. Vibrant colours and crisp resolution should come as standard, which means cutting-edge printing equipment is essential. Leading companies like MyPicture.com.au use surface treatment technology to reproduce the colour grading and saturation of the original image.
The quality of the equipment used is crucial when it comes to measuring and cutting the print substrate too. The companies pulling ahead are the ones using sophisticated machinery that cuts the backing material – be it photo paper, canvas, metal, or acrylic – with the greatest possible precision.
5. Streamlined Production
New printing trends and changes in customer behaviour have impacted almost every aspect of custom printing, and that includes production systems. Today’s companies aim for a completely streamlined manufacturing process, which in practice tends to mean cutting the supplier chain and bringing all production under one roof – increasing production speed and making quality control easier.
Another important change has been the move towards automation, which has meant repetitive manual work has now been almost eliminated from industrial printing. However, some printing techniques still need to be done by hand – for example, high-quality canvas prints are wrapped on their frames individually to ensure a perfectly taut surface and long-lasting performance.
It’s safe to conclude that the substrates, inks and machinery used in the print industry are all improving fast. Underwhelming print quality and flimsy construction are no longer considered acceptable even in the low-cost sector – so print providers need to adapt their business model to meet the demands of today’s market.