The unready: label printers and the digital future: some get it, some don't.

Author:Kenny, Jack
Position:FRONT Row

There is no substitute for attending a big trade show. My experience of drupa 2012 came through the bright rectangle of my laptop screen, atop the desk in my office. I saved thousands on travel, lodging and meals, and my feet did not require replacement after two weeks of roaming 19 exhibit halls. But I didn't see a thing with my own eyes, and I could not feel the crowd. Nothing conies close to that experience.

Had I attended drupa, however, I probably would not have bad the time to read the thoughtful and provocative analyses published by my peers in the business. Foremost among them is the observation that this quadrennial carnival of print has shifted mightily in its focus. It has always been the premier showcase tor offset, and it still is, but offset now shares the stage with digital printing. Indeed, all conventional print processes have had to make room for this bold young god.

Patrick Henry executive editor of, made the point clearly in his overview of drupa on May 8: "Too many digital alternatives to offset have come into being, and the suppliers of these solutions are now among the largest exhibitors at the show. What's more, given universal agreement that no printing business can have a long-term future without acquiring digital capability of some kind, the focus of drupa predictably has shifted in the direction of providing those answers."

Let's pause for a moment and study just one part of that paragraph: universal agreement that no printing business can have a long-term future without acquiring digital capability of some kind.

Universal agreement is a bold claim, but it is accurate/Take out the word "printing" and the statement applies to all businesses. Digital is everywhere. My local SCORE chapter holds frequent sessions on marketing via social media, and the meeting rooms are filled with average folks intent on mastering the new.

Now put the word "printing" back into place and consider I deeply into the entire industry digital has penetrated. Prepress? Completely digital. Why? There's no choice. We got rid of our old cameras and Rubylith a long time ago because we had to. Today's prepress technicians probably don't even know what Rubylith is. Does anyone out there still calculate a flexo plate curve with pencil and paper?

Commercial printers embraced digital printing when first it became available, and drupa 2012 proves that they continue to do %o today, with gusto. In April I attended EFI Connect, a...

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