Digital Printing 101: Investment Makes Sense for Hyperlocal, International Runs

Article excerpt

NEWSPAPERS HAVE INCREASINGLY BEEN TURNING TO THE CREATION OF TARGETED, hyperlocal, and international editions to increase revenue. It makes sense for these publishers to either consider purchasing a digital printing press or outsource those services.

The traditional offset process of printing newspapers flowed from computer to plate to press to paper. Digital printing eliminates the second and third steps, speeding up the process. However, digital is not meant for runs of more than a few thousand.

Different process for a different audence

Right now, digital is predominantly used for printing of international, as well as micro-zoned, editions.

"Another big difference at the moment is that digital presses print on a single web, and therefore, pages need to be printed sequentially and then collated. So the cut, collate, and fold process is totally different than with offset presses," said Chandni Dighe, worldwide marketing manager of publishing at The Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, N.Y.

Dighe added that many prepress steps are eliminated with shorter press runs. "In this environment, the final print-ready data is sent directly to the press and can include any level of variability from page to page. Also, the addition of color is much more affordable in a digital environment, and the print quality is outstanding," she said. "Traditional offset printing is still the most economical solution for long runs of static content."

She said that digital printing also provides "outstanding" print quality and offers more affordable color. Kodak manufactures digital presses as well as digital imprinting systems.

Thomas Hauser, executive vice president of corporate marketing for manroland AG, based in Germany, said he agrees that digital printing is the way to go for regional short runs and international newspapers.

"Digitally produced supplements enhance the value of the newspaper and enable new business models. Through full integration of inkjet presses in the entire networking workflow of newspaper production, new editorial concepts are efficiently realizable," he said, adding that the typical run length per day and title ranges between 50 and 1,000 copies.

Production currently varies between 2,000 and 8,000 newspapers daily.

"For these run lengths in international short-run markets, digital printing is the only economical option to provide Day A availability for newspapers. This counts even more if transportation cost from one country to another needs to be added," Hauser said.

He said that short-run opportunities allow newspapers to print and then insert hyperloeal publications, or targeted advertising, inside papers already run on an offset press.

Green, global, and personalized

Janice Gibson, public relations manager at Ricoh--which has regional headquarters in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, China, and Japan--said that one advantage to using inkjet digital technology is less energy consumption.

"So, with low coverage, inkjet can mean low energy consumption. Ricoh InfoPrint's color inkjet printers are continuous feed. This means that a single large roll of paper is fed into the print engines and then finished using a variety of options--cut sheet, folded, bound, etc.," she said, adding that maintenance on machines with Operator Replaceable Units can generally be handled more quickly by the press operator.

Gibson said that using offset printers still makes the most sense in terms of high-quality print and cost-effectiveness for large runs. However, she said, the IP5000 Continuous Feed Inkjet is designed for high-volume printing at speeds from approximately 210 to 722 feet per minute.

Ricoh manufactures the Ricoh Pro C901 Graphic Arts Edition digital printing press.

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Publishers are looking for new business models, including targeting specific niches, Gibson said, both in print and online. …