The Inkjet Integrator Series

For Inkjet Insight I am preparing an Inkjet Integrator Series, profiling companies and their services offered. Some basic considerations on which companies are going to be covered are laid out in a kick-off article on Inkjet Insight. In short, we cover companies buying in inkjet heads and designing inks, transport, and handling for bespoke print solutions. This can stretch from commercial to packaging, industrial, and even 3D-print and electronics. Often companies develop a set of modules to pick and combine with a lot of leeway to include custom components.

I am impressed with how integrators come up with efficient solutions for complex problems, considering the typical company size of about 30 employees. And how they compete against inkjet behemoths often 100 times the size is fascinating as well. There is one area integrators often fall behind and that is talking to the market. The Inkjet Integrator Series is hopefully changing this a bit.

The series kicked off with an article on NEOS, a company I have known for some years now. I already completed three more interviews to turn into written articles and the series will be continued shortly. The plan is to add one or two profiles per month. Inkjet Insight decided to have the articles outside of the paywall so users can get informed on the capabilities of the players for free. Please keep in mind that the articles are not sponsored and reflect the view of the author.

NEOS Bombardier module
Inkjet Integrator module – custom configurable

If you think your company should be considered as well, please contact me at ralf@digitalprintexpert.de

Evidence is rushing in – printed is better

There has been some confirmations before that printed is better for learning, now governments are taking action. In September 2023 the Swedish government reversed its decision by the National Agency for Education to make digital devices mandatory in preschools and instead focus more on printed materials. It plans to go further and to completely end digital learning for children under the age 6. It follows a drop in the reading scores of pupils since 2016. The government even set 60 million euros aside for book purchases for the country’s schools this year.

The decision follows expert advice from the renowned Karolinska Institute that highlighted the lack of substantiated positive findings and emphasized the significant negative effects of digitizing schools on students’ knowledge acquisition. “There’s clear scientific evidence that digital tools impair rather than enhance student learning,”

Booktok – influencing the book market

You might have heard of Booktok, even not being a regular (or at all) on Tiktok. Booktok is influencing the book market and the contributors are the modern book bloggers who reach millions of users with their short videos. The Booktok hashtag is now closing in on 200 billion views. Of course, it is unclear what portion of views ended up in real sales. The general consensus is that Booktok contributed to an uptick in book sales since 2021. Nielsen in the UK did some consumer research and found that the share of Booktok among all sales accounted for 3% of all book revenues in 2022.

Who and how Booktok is used is a bit better researched. According to one study in the UK, 38% of young people rely on Booktok for recommendations ahead of family and friends. At the same time, 68% said Booktok inspired them to read books they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

At the end of the road for heatset offset?

My career in print started almost 30 years ago at MAN Roland, the largest web offset manufacturer at that time. In 2001 I left the company to focus on digital print, also expecting that the market for ever-faster conventional presses would eventually dry up. MAN Roland eventually had to declare bankruptcy and was split into two companies. The web press portion later merged with Goss, one of its largest competitors. Still, sales declined and it seems that we are now at the end of the road for heatset offset.

At the recent Intergraf “Print Matters for the Future“ conference, I listened to a remarkable presentation on high volume flyer/door drop printing. On the background of major advertisers pulling out of printed door-drops and impeding governmental regulations that could essentially stop door drops the presentation was already quite interesting. The good news is that proposed regulations are still being reviewed and most retailers still stick with door drops (more on the preference of consumers for door drops here).

Print – not a small industry

Frequently, even within the printing industry, I hear that print is a small industry. That is certainly true when looking at the single print shop or even at a range of commercial printers. Adding up the pieces there is no doubt however, that print is a not a small industry.

The printing industry, as it is defined by the official statistics, has about 631,000 employees in the EU including the UK according to Eurostat for 2018. This includes prepress and finishing. It does not include big parts of packaging print, in-house print, copy shops and print in marketing and direct mail agencies.

employees print industry
EU print industry sizing