The future of the printed flyer remains a contested topic – definitely in Germany but I am sure in other places as well. Some high-profile retailers recently ditched their printed flyers and supplements, or announced plans to do so. The claim is to be more environmentally friendly and better serve the changing interest of their customers. Proof is missing for both claims. At least on customers usage and preferences some new market research has been completed by the German research institute IFH. The first part has just been published.
It was good to be at the Hunkeler innovationdays 2023 again, with next level automation as its motto. This certainly held true. 50 print application lines were shown live with many in-line or highly integration solutions.
Hunkeler launched several interesting new pieces of equipment like a B2 cut-sheet finisher moving into a new level of productivity. In the traditional web finishing space a high volume, yet variable book block production line (the Starbook) with added Book Sorting Module was presented. Adding to flexibility and automation was a new autosplicer for fast and easy roll change – either in front of a press or for near-line web finishing lines.
Recently I wrote an article for WhatTheyThink.com on AI image generation tools. I wrote it at the end of last year, shortly before text tools like ChatGPT kept on making headlines. I can still very much recommend reading the article and I am sure it is worth the subscription 😉. While I am confident that AI image generation will revolutionise image production, at first, I was reluctant about the capabilities of AI in journalism and text generation in general.
Finally, the Hunkeler innovationdays are back, not only bringing more inkjet devices, but also a lot of technology around the presses – of course with finishing being very prominent. If you have not been to the Hunkeler innovationdays: it is the event to get the best possible overview on continuous feed production presses. Not only will all important vendors for digital commercial, publishing and document printing presses be there, the event also allows seeing the latest presses printing side-by-side.
2022 started fairly well in terms of inkjet press activities. It was supposed to be a decent year after the pandemic weighed down on businesses in 2020 and 2021. However, sales/placement announcements dropped off in Q2 and Q3. Finally, Q4 2022 sees inkjet press placements picking up finally. It ties in with printing companies having a more positive outlook again, e.g. in Germany.
For years I keep on collecting sales and placement announcements for production inkjet devices and use those to analyse trends and data. Placements and sales numbers for 2022 show a good start into the year with a decisive drop in activity in Q2 and Q3. However, Q4 showed a significant rise in numbers, easily surpassing even Q1 2022. Keep in mind that Q4 has not even ended, so there might be a few more units to add.