Not long ago graphic designers, traffic managers and printers worked well into the night planning the layout and pagination of an annual report. Soon, thanks to significant strides in printing technology, these meetings became shorter and eventually unnecessary. Printers who kept pace with technology evolved, offering first computer-to-plate capabilities and now, with the ubiquitous Internet, vast and sophisticated download technology, doing away with the need for a disc. Printers and traffic managers now only need to stay in telephone contact to exchange pleasantries for a job well done.
Robert Bywater, director of printing and packaging powerhouse, Colourtone Aries, says, “Keeping pace with demands from the industry is all in a days work in our workshop. We never know what creative idea will come through the door, or at least through the email. Modern printers are equipped to cope with just about any design requirement, within reason. Market demands dictate design thought and the onus is on printers to be able to manifest this thought. Being able to adapt to complex printing is what differentiates printers.”
With many predicting that printing demands will diminish with the introduction of technology some years back, nothing could be more inaccurate. The printing industry has seen an upward trend. Some printing projects have seen a dip in demand and this includes items like letterheads and compliment slips that were, for many years, stock items in companies, but other areas, largely in the printing of marketing focused material, has seen a steep growth trend.
Robert says that printing demands are far more complex than letterheads, compliment slips and business cards. Sophisticated structures requiring highly complicated die-lines and intricate handwork put printers and packaging companies to the test. While technology has adapted to these needs, printing has not necessarily become much cheaper, it has certainly become a lot faster and much more flexible.
Firing up the old litho printer, running costly and time consuming tests and then printing the job put upward pressure on pricing. Technologically advanced printers now offer the same result, but with significantly less wastage and flexibility that allows for smaller, more customised and, crucially, more cost effective, runs. The introduction of digital presses, like Colourtone Aries’ HP Indigo digital press, offers even greater flexibility and printers who offer the full range of digital and litho technology provide a perfect choice for clients.
Robert says, “Printing is here to stay. Consumers remain impressed by well-designed and printed packaging. Their relationships with brands become more physical when they can touch the product. But before that, the experience begins with they open the packaging and read the product leaflet, all critical elements of the modern marketing mix. Before we announce the end of printing and packaging, bear in mind your last trip to the mall, the last purchase you made or the magazine you read. Printing and packaging is all around us and will be for quite some time yet.”