The digital print market has been growing steadily over recent years

By Shadi Bakhour, B2B Business Unit Director, Canon Middle East


While the black and white (B&W) printing market has not grown for some years, it is not in decline. There is ongoing demand for a range of black and white applications in shorter runs and in higher quality, and this offers business opportunities to print service providers (PSPs) who are suitably equipped with the right digital printing technology to take advantage of this demand cost-effectively.

The digital print market, as a whole, has been growing steadily over recent years and is on track to continue to do so. A recent report by Smithers Pira indicates that the global digital printing market will grow to €165 billion in 2018, almost 50% of the offset sector across the world and higher in the more mature print regions.

Digital’s share of the offset volume is much lower, reflecting the much higher unit costs being obtained for digital print than for offset. The volume of all offset prints will fall by 10.2% across the world between 2008 and 2018, while digital print volume is forecast to grow by 68.1%.

However, while Western Europe will show a strong shift towards colour, with an average annual growth of 20.4% for impressions made on colour devices, there will be a decline in impressions on black & white devices of over 7% per year.

Although it may be in decline, B&W production print nevertheless remains a significant part of the digital print market. In 2012, research company Caslon estimated the size of the B&W market in Western Europe to have levelled off at digital page volumes of around 230 billion and that it is likely to remain at around the same level for the next four to five years.

This is because there will still be a demand for monochrome pages for transactional, direct mail, books, reports and forms, although an increasing percentage of the page volumes will migrate to digital colour devices.

Challenges, Trends and Opportunities

As print jobs become more complex, PSPs need to ensure that their production environments are flexible, efficient and productive enough to take advantage of these changes in demand. This complexity is the main reason behind a growing trend towards PSPs moving page volumes from their analogue monochrome devices and onto faster, more productive digital devices.

Combined with software that helps increase efficiency and cost recovery, PSPs can streamline their processes in order to increase their margins and reduce waste. Despite the fact that the total number of pages printed in B&W is not set to grow in coming years, there are still a number of opportunities using digital print.

One such major opportunity lies in the increasing number of marketing departments that are looking at switching print work from colour to black and white as a way of cutting costs, something that is an opportunity for both commercial printers and CRDs.

Another opportunity is through the on-demand and variable data print (VDP) capabilities of digital print for applications such as books, bills, statements and direct mail. There are also opportunities for CRDs to safeguard their future by switching from offset technology to digital monochrome print. For many CRDs today, finding ways to make their production environments more efficient is the key to their survival.

With overall print volumes decreasing, digital printing technologies enable cost-effective production of documents as and when an organisation needs them. There are a number of applications that are forecast by InfoTrends to grow between 2013 and 2018. Books, bill statements and direct mail will continue to be core applications, with CAD/rendering predicted to be in high demand.

Top 10 B&W Applications in 2013

1. Bills/Statements

2. Direct Mail

3. Books

4. Proposals/Reports

5. Forms

6. CAD/Rendering

7. Manuals

8. Brochures

9. Letterhead/Office Documents

10. Catalogues

Top 10 B&W Applications Forecast for 2018

1. Books

2. Bills/Statements

3. Direct Mail

4. CAD/Rendering

5. Proposals/Reports

6. Forms

7. Manuals

8. Brochures

9. Letterhead/Office Documents

10. Catalogues

Customer considerations

Migrating B&W from offset to digital: The flexibility of digital printing technologies is increasingly suited to the changing needs of the B&W market. As run lengths fall and the need for just-in- time print production increases, digital print becomes a more viable technology for the anticipated migration of B&W applications such as books, instruction manuals, reports, direct mail, and transactional statements. A huge opportunity for PSPs is to educate their customers about the unique advantages of print-on- demand, as well as highlighting how they could benefit the customer’s business.

Take a consultative approach: PSPs need to shift their focus away from volumes and focus instead on finding out what the customer’s needs are and providing services that can address them. By taking on a more consultative approach, a PSP will be able to produce projects for the customer that not only meet their requirements, but that also add value and strengthen the relationship with the customer, becoming a trusted advisor and safeguarding their business.

Canon’s Offerings

By combining the industry’s broadest portfolio of products and solutions, the company’s Essential Business Builder Program and independent industry research, Canon helps customers to grow their business and capitalise on new opportunities Canon’s printing and software solutions give customers access to the broadest portfolio of products and solutions for professional print in the industry. In addition to monochrome, colour and wide format digital printers, Canon’s Workflow Program and its Océ PRISMA suite give commercial print customers access to software and solutions that support areas such as variable data printing (VDP).

As demand for high quality short-run jobs grows, Canon’s portfolio offers the flexibility to enter new markets and expand existing opportunities through its VarioPrint, imagePRESS and imageRUNNER lines. The Essential Business Builder Program is delivered by independent industry experts and provides three core elements: Information guides that cover subjects such as selling digital print, variable data printing and colour management.

Workshops – with face-to- face sessions with industry consultants – on subjects such as marketing for printers and an introduction to cross-media. Business mentoring, delivered by independent business mentors outside of the class room, supporting commercial printers on a variety of business-related issues.

The Business and Innovation Scan is a business analysis programme that has been developed to help PSPs review and adapt their business strategies. Canon currently offers three distinct variations of the scan, each of which is tailored specifically to the needs of those operating in-house print centres or servicing the graphic arts and transactional and direct mail markets.

Customers participate in a three hour workshop, during which their business situation is analysed in detail. Following this, a report is produced which details an appropriate strategic direction and action plan for their business. Canon regularly commissions independent research to help commercial printers better understand their markets. These reports offer everything from overall trends to focused customer insight through a series of studies.

Below is an overview of the key monochrome devices offered by Canon:

VarioPrint 6000+ lines

The Océ VarioPrint 6000+ lines are a powerful family of highly productive digital perfecting printing systems. They offer ultra-fast, cut-sheet printing with a range of speed, input and output configurations to meet a wide range of production requirements – including transaction printing, direct mail, book publishing, manuals, and catalogues and marketing collateral. They are ideal for high end CRDs, large commercial printers, and corporate data centres.

imagePRESS 1135+ series

Built on the technology platform of the highly successful imagePRESS C7010VP series, Canon’s imagePRESS 1135+ series brings new levels of print quality, productivity and versatility to B&W mid-volume digital production. Adept at anything from fast turnaround, short runs to complex variable data printing, they are ideal for transaction printers and direct mailers as well as mid-volume commercial printers who require offline finishing or pre-printed media applications.

varioPRINT 135 series

The Canon varioPRINT 135 series of mid-volume mono printing engines offers excellent image consistency, ease of operation, system configurability and increased performance uptime. Ideal for CRDs and commercial printers producing high volumes of manuals or online collateral that needs to be stacked, folded, stitched, stapled, perfect bound or trimmed. Also suitable for corporate data centres using IPDS (media test needed for pre-printed media or offline finishing applications).

imageRUNNER ADVANCE 8200 series

Built to meet the toughest of schedules and offering outstanding finishing capabilities, the environmentally efficient imageRUNNER ADVANCE 8200 series is easy to operate and integrates seamlessly into production workflows. Offering a good price: performance ratio for low volume, low demand print environments, it delivers excellent results and a rapid return on investment. Ideal for high-end office and the light production needs of smaller CRDs and quick printers.


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