Making the Move to Variable Data Printing
In-plants interested in variable data printing should take things one step at a time.
By Chris Reid
Whether you're a small reprographics shop or a large offset printer, the prospect of supporting variable data printing (VDP) applications for your customers can be daunting.
Many shops lack the IT skills or infrastructure to handle VDP. They may not be familiar with typical variable data formats or the composition tools used to build variable applications. Still others haven't made the leap to digital print technology in order to support a fully variable page for color or black-and-white printing.
You may be at a crossroads where you need to make a decision about investing in VDP. Or perhaps, you require variable data printing to grow your business and satisfy the demands of your customers. Regardless of your situation, any business decision requires sound numbers to come to a conclusion about a pending investment.
The first step is to quantify the need by answering questions like:
• Do you have enough digital print business in the pipeline to justify the costs?
• Are there enough long-term contracts to support the investment? Or are you going to invest in the hardware, software and other considerations based on one or two short-term contracts or new leads?
• Can you absorb the risk if you lose these deals?
• Can you move short-run offset work to digital devices to defray the cost?
• Where else can you acquire digital pages?
Finally, you should think about how much variable data printing you're doing now and what volumes you will see over the next year, two years and five years out. Reviewing this information ahead of time will help you choose the correct device and help you make decisions down the road.