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Production Inkjet Printing Delivers Flexibility, Cost Savings

Categories: Industry Insights
Production inkjet printing is ideal for print-on-demand book publishing and variable print marketing, among other use cases

Despite the popularity of digital platforms, print is still alive and well – and it’s ripe for innovation. Nowhere is that more evident than with production inkjet printing. 

Offset printing continues to occupy the largest segment in the printing technology space, but production inkjet printing is growing in popularity among book printers, direct mail providers and marketers looking for cost-effective ways to create customized content and/or respond dynamically to consumer demand. 

“Print buyers are interested in smaller print runs with hundreds or thousands of pieces instead of tens of thousands or more. And they want variable data and customization capabilities so they can run more targeted campaigns and niche promotions,” says Meredith Collins, channel marketing manager for Domtar Paper. “Advancements in production inkjet printing mean you can now do all of that with greater flexibility.” 

What Is Production Inkjet Printing? 

Offset printing, in which inked printing plates transfer information to the page, can deliver exceptional print quality. It’s the technology of choice for printing large runs of static information – that is, information that stays the same from the first imprint to the last. Any copy or image changes require the use of a new printing plate, which makes personalized or small-scale printing cost prohibitive. 

In contrast, production inkjet printing deposits tiny droplets of ink onto paper to create high-resolution documents or images. Since it doesn’t require printing plates, the method can be used to create multiple versions of a project – or even multiple projects – on the same print run. 

Compared to offset printing, production inkjet printing can deliver: 

  • Customization and personalization capabilities 
  • Faster turnaround on print jobs 
  • Ability to correct errors more efficiently 

“Production inkjet printing has ushered in a new era of innovation in not only how print projects are made but also how they look and feel,” says Collins. “Print runs can be updated on the fly, and materials can be enhanced with QR codes to connect readers to a personalized digital experience. It’s exciting to think about the possibilities.” 

Key Markets for Commercial Inkjet Printing 

Inkjet printing can be used on various substrates, including glass, textiles, plastic and synthetic building materials, to create all kinds of customized and personalized goods. But when it comes to printing on paper, there are two popular use cases. 

Book Publishing 

While the high level of demand for printed books that was seen in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic has waned, sales are still up over pre-pandemic levels. Consumer appetite has also increased for backlist works – titles that have previously been out of print. 

Production inkjet printing allows book publishers to respond to changing consumer demands. Instead of printing thousands or millions of books and hoping they sell, publishers can order smaller print runs, knowing they can easily replenish stock as sales demand it. In addition, authors and publishers can vary content according to regional differences or create books that can be personalized for the reader. 

Print-on-demand capabilities also make it possible for emerging authors to self-publish their books by lowering the cost of entry to the market. Authors make their work available to e-commerce platforms that send orders to the printer as they come in. Printing one book is as easy and cost-effective as printing hundreds, and printers can manage press time more efficiently by fulfilling orders for multiple titles on the same press run.  

Direct Mail Marketing 

A novelty a decade ago, personalized direct mail marketing has become the gold standard, thanks to ongoing improvements in inkjet inks, printers, papers and converting techniques.  

Consumers are so bombarded with digital marketing messages that they’re experiencing advertising fatigue. By contrast, a well-executed print marketing campaign helps brands stand out, and it reaches consumers who may not use digital platforms. 

Direct mail marketing also works. Two-thirds of enterprise marketers in a recent survey said that direct mail marketing delivers the best ROI of all their current marketing channels. In the same survey, 80 percent of respondents report sending personalized direct mail because it outperforms traditional static mail. Within that group, 46 percent also choose personalized imagery, and more than 50 percent personalize format and/or text. 

“With the speed, cost and print quality of production inkjet printing, marketing professionals have access to a whole new realm of design, customization and finishing possibilities for direct mail campaigns,” says Collins. 

Learn more about production inkjet printing on paper made by Domtar, part of the Paper Excellence Group.