Washington, DC—When digital lentication printing won the title of best in class at the International Business Machines Association’s annual conference, it was only the second time in a decade that the technology had been considered.
The first time was in 2007, when digital lenticated printing made it onto the cover of the prestigious IEEE Spectrum magazine.
But a decade later, when the world is still trying to figure out how to print documents on paper and how to make the internet accessible to those who might not otherwise have access, that was a different story.
In the past decade, as digital printing has become more ubiquitous and easier to use, the question has become: Should we replace paper, or at least the way we print?
And, how should we go about making that transition?
As the tech industry continues to make headway with its new printing technologies, many are beginning to ask: Is the printing process still in its infancy?
Is there a clear path forward?
Is digital printing still in a state of development?
Is the print-on-demand model still an ideal way to produce information for those who are unable to print at home?
The answer to these questions has become a little more clear over the past year.
For years, it seemed that the print business was on a collision course with digital printing, which, at least on paper, is on a course to be the next great technological advancement in the printing industry.
The first signs of this collision came when a group of American digital designers and printers came together at the beginning of this year to make an open letter to their fellow printers, telling them what they wanted to see in the print industry.
In it, they asked the printers to “look at the future” and “not the past.”
It was an honest attempt at reaching out to the print makers in the industry and trying to convince them that, yes, they were part of the problem, but also part of a solution.
The letter was a sign that, after decades of the digital printing revolution, the printing community was beginning to recognize that printing was no longer a one-way street.
The designers and print makers that were most interested in making print were beginning to realize that the future of the industry was in fact digital.
Digital Printing and the Future of PrintingBy the end of the year, the letter had garnered more than 6,000 signatures, and several print shops had already begun accepting digital orders.
The printers were beginning a long-term effort to bring printmaking back to print.
This is a good thing, the designers and the printers said.
But the question is: What happens if digital printing isn’t available to the printers?
How do we print on demand?
How do we make printing more accessible to the general public?
As the printers and designers argued, the answer to those questions was: We don’t know yet.
But we do know that digital printing is on its way.
Digital printing will make it easier to print on a wide variety of materials, and will make printing easier for many people who aren’t able to print in their home.
The industry is also on track to expand its manufacturing capabilities, creating jobs in the process.
But in order to get there, we have to get rid of paper.
If the digital industry doesn’t move quickly toward the print side of things, the print companies and printers will have to move on to the next step: printing on demand.
It’s going to be more and more difficult to make print on the cheap, because the printing technology has only just begun to catch up to the costs of manufacturing.
In the past five years, the cost of printing has increased by nearly a factor of 100.
Even if the print cost per page continues to grow at its current rate, printing on a standard 3-by-5 sheet of paper will cost $7,200 in 2021, according to the American Printing Association.
That’s more than double the price of a computer.
And that doesn’t even include the cost to use a printer, which has increased nearly 400% in the same time period.
The cost of a printer will only continue to rise as the technology evolves, and the price will continue to climb even further.
The printing industry is not a single, singular company.
Each of the companies that print on behalf of print manufacturers is an individual business, each of which has its own internal strategy and needs.
As print makers begin to realize the advantages of printing, they may decide to look elsewhere for their printing needs.
In recent years, digital printing may have become a more attractive option for companies that don’t want to print their own materials.
But as the printing sector has matured, the industry as a whole has shifted from a place where printing was cheaper to a place that is more expensive.
And as the cost and quality of print have improved, printing companies are now beginning to look for ways to bring printing costs down.
To understand why this is happening, we need to step back a little bit.
In printmaking, you