The Evolution of Digital Color Printing: Beyond the Basics

In the world of printing, the transition from monochromatic to color represented a significant leap in the realm of digital presses and copiers. The era of black-and-white toner gave way to an array of captivating colors, redefining what customers could expect from print providers. This transformation, which commenced in the mid-1990s, marked a turning point in the industry, allowing for versatile and engaging printed materials. As we delve into the realm of digital color printing, we explore its vast landscape, discussing its evolution and the impactful role it plays in modern print technology.

The Era of Monochrome

Much like Henry Ford’s famous quote about the Model T, early digital presses and copiers shared a monochromatic limitation – toner was black, and only black. The print industry had yet to embark on the colorful journey we know today. While the need for color was evident, the available color technology was unreliable and lacking. Customers demanded reliability and longevity from their prints, which was an expectation the initial color presses struggled to meet.

Emerging from Black and White

The industry soon witnessed a transformative shift, as various vendors introduced digital color printing. These advances brought color to the forefront of the print world and called for a recalibration of expectations surrounding printed color. The question of the future of digital color printing sparked lively discussions that continue to this day.

The New Normal: Acceptable Color

In the world of digital color printing, a new standard emerged – the definition of “acceptable” or “pleasing” color. This level of quality became the norm, with the majority of prints featuring colors like green grass, blue skies, and natural flesh tones. While the initial goal was to emulate the quality of offset printing, the digital press aspired to be more disruptive, aiming to exceed the capabilities of traditional offset presses.

Beyond CMYK

Digital color printing proved its versatility by offering capabilities beyond traditional four-color CMYK printing. The innovation led to the introduction of digital flood and spot coatings, custom and spot colors, shots of white, and even textures that enhanced digitally printed documents’ visual appeal. These advancements aimed to make printed materials more captivating, valuable, and, ultimately, more profitable for print providers.

Unveiling the Value of Additional Treatments

Ron Gilboa, a group director at Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends, emphasizes the value of treatments that go beyond standard CMYK printing. According to his insights, each additional treatment brings added value. Here’s a breakdown of the value such treatments can bring:

  • Spot Color: On average, adding a spot color can increase profitability by approximately 24% compared to normal CMYK printing.
  • White or Metallics: The inclusion of white or metallic inks can boost profitability by as much as 50% beyond CMYK alone.
  • Vibrant Colors: Unique colors like an eye-popping fluorescent yellow can contribute a remarkable 58% increase in a print job’s value.

Bringing these treatments inline, allowing them to be performed during the printing process itself, is critical. It reduces process steps, saves time, and significantly enhances productivity.

Customization and Personalization

In the age of shorter print runs and increased targeting, customization and personalization have become paramount. Millennials, who typically lean away from printed materials, find themselves drawn to personalized and brightly colored documents. The combination of impactful colors and personalized messaging is a potent recipe for engaging a new generation of readers.

Considerations Beyond Color

While color plays a pivotal role, other factors influence the success of digital printing, especially on cut-sheet devices. With the limitation of sheets approximately 24 inches in length on cut-sheet toner presses, advancements were needed. The previous constraints have been addressed, primarily thanks to enhanced RIP and processing capabilities.

Xerox iGen 5 Press: A Beacon of Innovation

The introduction of the Xerox iGen 5 Press marks a breakthrough in the digital printing industry. This press can accommodate sheets up to 35 inches in length, far surpassing the previous limitations. What sets the iGen 5 apart is its fifth print station, designed to lay down a retina-searing Fluorescent Yellow Dry Ink. The vividness of this yellow is remarkable, making it ideal for a range of applications, from signage to printed pages. The extension of colors beyond CMYK opens up new horizons for creative and eye-catching print materials.

More Than a Press: Workflow and Partnership

In the modern print industry, two factors hold more importance than the capabilities of a press: workflow and partnership. Workflow, once associated with physical job movement, now represents the seamless transition from job receipt to delivery, primarily driven by software. Efficient workflow management ensures that all aspects of the print business are connected, improving efficiency from document creation to production and delivery.

Partnerships with equipment vendors and suppliers are equally crucial. Printers today aim to become trusted advisors to their customers, offering comprehensive solutions beyond the printing process. The support of vendors helps printers deliver the value their customers seek, such as managing complex projects that require coordination across multiple media channels.

In Conclusion

Digital color printing has evolved from its monochromatic origins to become an integral part of modern print technology. The ability to go beyond standard CMYK printing has opened up new possibilities and increased profitability for print providers. The advent of the Xerox iGen 5 Press and enhancements like Fluorescent.

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