The Future Of Offset - Part II
Though in-plant managers aren't ready to abandon their offset presses yet, they say the process needs to change to compete with digital printing.
As print runs get smaller and clients learn to accept digital print quality, why should in-plants bother to stay in the offset business at all?
That's a question many managers are pondering as the world continues to race into the digital age. Already several in-plants have dumped offset altogether after finding that high-speed digital printers can handle their work more cost effectively.
Still, most in-plants have no intention of giving up their presses entirely. They've paid for them and they plan on using them for years to come. But what happens when maintenance costs get too high and an in-plant must replace its old equipment? What new advancements will make offset more attractive than digital printing?
When IPG interviewed offset press manufacturers in January, they talked about total automation and direct imaging, and predicted a long and prosperous life for offset printing. But what do in-plant managers think?
For the most part they agree that, to survive, offset printing must incorporate more direct imaging.
"To remain competitive with whatever is going to come in the electronic, four-color process, you're going to have to have a certain amount of that in the offset world," says Jack Mondin, executive director of USAA Insurance Publishing Services, in San Antonio, Texas. USAA recently purchased a Heidelberg Quickmaster DI press. In the future, though, Mondin says press manufacturers need to focus on developing direct imaging capabilities for larger format presses.
In Seattle, Larry Jablinske also feels that the current direct imaging offerings are limited. His in-plant at SAFECO Insurance is on the lookout for a five-color direct imaging press. He brought a team to Graph Expo last fall to scout out options, but it was not an easy task.