The UK printing industry has changed greatly over the last decade. Competition from other media and demands for lower costs, higher quality and more rapid response triggered the developments of new technologies.
Analogue processes tend to be replaced by ‘digital workflows’ (where content is received and processed in electronic form), a key technical transition. As a result this means heavy investment in information technology (IT) hardware and software and a growing need for IT skills within the industry.
We may refer to workflows as fully digital when outputs occur on digital printers rather than impression-based printing presses. Thus, completely new possibilities for print are created. Products such as brochures, cards and other can be fully personalized because printing short runs or even single copies of documents is more economic. Digital printing still accounts only for a minor share of output at present but this will increase over time.
Britain seems to have an even higher percentage of output produced by small companies, and a smaller average size of firm, than many other developed countries. But market pressures, and the entry to, and growth within the UK, of foreign companies, are creating greater consolidation.
Fundamental changes took place driven by the move from analogue to digital processes. Nowadays most content is created on computers and transferred and processed as electronic files. Only when it is imaged onto a plate or screen for impression-based printing (which transfers through physical pressure, an inked image onto paper or other substrates) takes a physical form. Innovation regarding digital technologies (for example, electrostatic attraction or inkjets which transfer the image by non-contact processes) could even eliminate the need to make plates or screens.
Among the new possibilities digital printing creates are the following: fully-personalised brochures and information packs, containing a selection of material in which the recipient is interested directly; the end of ‘out of print’ books as it becomes economic to print in small batches or even single copies; individual or small versions of products such as greeting cards, labels and carton packaging; frequent reprinting – the possibility to print small quantities of promotional materials, rather than having to place a substantial single order.
Even if digital printing only accounts for a minor share of output at present, in the very long-term, however, is expected to become as or more important than impression-based methods. Modern printing is highly dependent on information technology (IT) and this dependence is getting stronger. The large size of image files means that even a relatively small printer will often handle more data, and process it more quickly, than a medium sized company. Such a fact turns printing into a key market for several major IT vendors such as Adobe or Apple.
Digital print’s growing market share will be based on customizing and adaptation for the users’ needs, being able to do so through its cost-effectiveness for short runs, and the ability to change the content of individual printed pages. In production this includes the development of ink-jet digital printers which can be used for production printing and/or production of high quality proofs.
Any printing company that aims at the highest standards in professionalism will place a premium on good management of the work flow. This is a result of the need to monitor digital file preparation and processing, to handle a large number of smaller jobs, and to have better materials planning for the jobs to be dealt with quicker).Therefore, it is likely to witness an increased adoption of more sophisticated management information systems (MIS).
Sophisticated systems for collecting (often with direct electronic interfaces with equipment) and analysing workflow information are now provided by the new generations MIS. They even have Internet functionality that allows customers to track the progress of jobs via web browsers and to integrate with on-line ordering systems.
Finally as everything revolves around the internet and the on-line possibilities for each and every business, it is very important to know where to find these professionals of the UK’s digital printing industry. We recommend the best source: http://printing-companies.org/printers-in-uk/.