Inkjet products and solutions have advanced extensively over the past few years due to the evolving needs of world class companies and customers. Inkjet continues to rise in popularity as companies seek to achieve operational excellence while at the same time producing higher value communications through an intense focus on productivity, speed, accuracy and precision.
Industry-leading inkjet printers can produce higher-quality output to meet even the most demanding color quality standards and service level agreements (SLAs). With high volume production inkjet printers, users can produce more impactful communications with high print quality of up to 2400 dpi, resolution that delivers a wider color gamut and smoother gradients that rival offset quality. Inkjet users can also achieve improved quality through multiple drop sizes that offer flexibility to run high-quality and low-quality jobs on the same machine. The measure of quality must be measured in more than the ink of the page – today’s personalized communications mean that operations must hold the privacy of data to the highest quality standard, ensuring precision and accuracy throughout the print and mail process.
High quality color inkjet printing used to be out of reach for all but the highest volume mailers. But today there are offerings that allow operations in the 1 to 10 million monthly impression range to get the benefits of color inkjet with a platform the offers a lower capital and run cost.
Broader Market Application
The latest inkjet technology platforms allow for broader market applications, with the ability to produce output on wide range of substrates, including color, glossy, standard offset stocks and even untreated stocks. Previously, coated stocks had to be treated with a bonding agent in order to produce high-quality print. To ensure printing quality, many inkjet printers have built-in primer systems that prepare untreated paper to receive ink. In other words, when commercial paper is fed into an inkjet system, users can choose to apply a coating that facilitates ink adhesion. Not only does this improve the color and clarity of resulting documents, it also greatly reduces the likelihood of irregularities or misprints. The associated waste reduction in both paper and ink result in tangible savings for businesses.
Flexibility and Productivity
Inkjet used to just be a solution for highly variable, lower quality jobs. However, today inkjet is increasing in popularity due to its flexibility and productivity. With one inkjet printer, users can do a range of high-quality jobs to inexpensive jobs alternating between high-speed/low-quality and low-speed/high-quality. Through higher speeds, users can be more productive and competitive with the same level of assets.
Furthermore, a smart investment inkjet does not require a “forklift” upgrade as the printers can be improved to the next generation of technology without completely replacing the asset. Conversely, toner technology required a complete integrated ecosystem that needed to be completely replaced. Now, there are fully integrated printing and finishing solutions that allow for a seamless migration to inkjet leveraging an existing cut-sheet workflow that even include dynamic perforation options built-in.
Modern inkjet printers are an integrated, fully variable solution, meaning it can avoid multipass with an overprint. In contrast, most offset printers must print the same paper multiple times to incorporate colors and variable data. Inkjet printers provide an opportunity to create higher-value communications – such as making mail more colorful, interactive, engaging and integrated with digital communications.
Single-run functionality also signals the approach of fully-automated printing systems, where human intervention is redundant from start to finish. Not only will this bring greater workplace efficiency, but staff will be able to turn their attention to more specialized tasks.
Inkjet systems typically require extremely high volume print jobs to be most effective. However, recently introduced systems for medium and small volume levels are making inkjet more affordable and attainable.
Changes in inks and substrates have also significantly lowered the operating cost of inkjet printers, making them economically equal to, if not better than, alternative technologies for mid-sized print volumes. The cost of inkjet printers has also significantly deceased as the range of compatible substrates and inks has expanded, eliminating the need for expensive, specialized products. The ability to print on a wider range of substrates with reduced waste, has also brought down overall printing costs.
As the inkjet revolution continues, vendors will continue to expand size offerings to ensure efficiency and quality are attainable at every volume size.
Grant Miller is global vice-president of operations and product management at Pitney Bowes. Pitney Bowes offers the industry’s broadest range of inkjet format sizes.