The Rise of Commercial Inkjet Printing

In the past decade, inkjet printing technology has created a dramatic shift in the commercial printing industry thanks to its flexibility and affordability. Smithers Pira, a worldwide research authority on packaging, print and paper supply chains, projected that the inkjet printing market would grow to $67.3 billion in 2017.

“The scope of where inkjet printing wants to go is not only dramatic but achievable,” said Scott Schweder, director of business development at Domtar. “It is undoubtedly the future.”

The Benefits of Inkjet Printing

Why all the hype? In short, inkjet printing replaces two other costly and time-consuming printing processes: offset printing and laser printing.

These two methods often work together. Offset printing imprints static information, such as a logo or company address, onto a sheet. That sheet is then sent to a company, which loads it into a laser printer to apply variable data, such as billing information or a personalized letter to a customer. The finished product is then mailed.

Inkjet printing combines the advantages of offset and laser printing in a single machine. Inkjet printers precisely propel tiny droplets of ink onto paper to create high-resolution documents or images. The inkjet printing process can also be used on multiple surfaces, including glass, textiles and synthetic building materials. Adding to the technology’s allure are inkjet printing’s inherent flexibility, the reliability of the equipment and the ability to more affordably produce small-batch orders.

“Uptime is the number one benefit,” said Dave Bell, manager of product marketing at that global printing company Ricoh in a January interview with Domtar’s Blueline blog. “We have customers who run seven days a week, 24 hours a day, at 96 percent uptime. Inkjet [printing] is also extremely consistent. From the first page to the 10 millionth page, each impression looks exactly the same.”

Paper Innovation Meets Inkjet Demand

The rise in inkjet printing has required the paper industry to develop quality sheets to meet the demands of technology.

Domtar offers paper that not only works well with inkjet printing but is also designed to withstand the rigors of folding and mailing. Domtar works closely with printer manufacturers to ensure that quality of the company’s paper meets the needs of inkjet printer technology.

“Our goal in aligning with OEM [original equipment manufacturers] partners goes well beyond print and paper compatibility,” Schweder said. “When a customer makes a multimillion dollar investment in a new technology, it’s a bold leap of faith. We pride ourselves on presenting a unified front with our print partners. We’re in it together to transition customers and grow their business.”

Next on the horizon is improving lightweight paper to enable inkjet printers to produce smaller print volumes of books that use such papers, like Bibles and prospectuses. Research is also being conducted on the dynamic niche market of high-end packaging, which includes gift boxes and custom labels.

Learn more about inkjet printing on Blueline by Domtar:

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