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The Power of Print: Evolution of Print Media Production through Digitalization, Innovations, Electronic Media and Market Demand

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This paper gives an overview on the state of the art in print production systems and methods, applied printing technologies and their positioning within the graphic arts, communication and media/multimedia industry including the description of trends for further developments (figs. 1, 4, 10, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28).

Digitalization allows the linking of the production/workflow sections prepress, press and postpress and can lead to print production systems which include all these three conventional sections (figs. 8, 15, 23).

The high quality of print media and their economical production is based on powerful printing technologies and systems. Conventional printing technologies for high productivity which use plates (figs. 1, 2, 5) as well as masterless NIP (non-impact printing) technologies (figs. 1, 3, 15, 16, 25) are realized in commercial systems. The combination of several different printing processes (Figure 11) leads to hybrid printing systems which are optimized for special applications and versions for print media (e.g. offset and ink jet, Figure 13) for personalization/customization and print quality improvements etc. (figs. 2, 12, 14).

New technologies make distributed, print on demand production and fully variable printing page per page possible and economical (figs. 9, 10). The driving force for doing this was the digitalization in prepress, digitalization of workflow, equipment, processes and tools to describe the print product to be produced completely with one data file (Figure 22), as well as advanced printing and finishing systems, networking (Figure 8) and the communication techniques (Figure 35) which are available. Printing via the net, measurement and automation control techniques and systems, remote proofing, all the computer to … – technologies (Figure 4, 32) for digital print production and the production of multimedia products (Figure 23), are established and secure high quality multicolor print media (figs. 17, 18, 19, 20, 21) within the world of E-commerce and global communication.

All in all, print media do not compete with electronic media, only some partial replacement effects for special print products and applications, e. g. dictionaries, can be observed; the synergy effects between both kind of media support each other and lead also to cross-publishing and multimedia products (Figure 37). The demand for print media is growing continuously, also as an effect of the high growth rate of electronic media (Figure 24). Premedia as a new section in the workflow – in front of prepress – creates and provides a digital master for producing printmedia and/or electronic media (Figure 23). A hybrid / multimedia product is, for example, a conventional book which includes a CD-ROM, especially with search functions and animations added to the file, describing the content of the book itself.

The power of print can be clearly recognized by the high quality which is available at relatively low costs, the great volume and demand of printed products and their high variety (figs. 25, 26, 33, 34). The power of print is also confirmed by the innovations in technologies, systems and applications, with realization and the strong demand for different systems for digital printing (Figure 28).

Synergies and innovations allow the creation of new components within a printing system and continuous improvements. Image processing, new materials, optoelectronic and micromechanical components are being developed in the labs worldwide and used in improved or new systems. Short comments/information about “X”-graphy (Figure 1) – new NIP-technologies like Elcography, TonerJet, Direct Imaging Printing, Zurography and “Ink mist jetting” are given.

There is a wide field of interest in interdisciplinary scientific, research, engineering, system and product design and for customer-friendly solutions and applications within the graphic arts and communication industry; these are challenges and chances to enter the market with new ideas and systems in time, successfully for all partners – users, suppliers and customers (Figure 39).

The presentation covers this wide field of subjects and gives an overview on the state-of-the-art status and the future trends (figs. 24, 25, 27, 33, 34, 38). A selection of examples are shown and explained for the different printing and production systems optimised for several applications. This especially for offset and flexographic printing including direct imaging techniques (figs. 2, 5, 6, 13) as well as for the leading NIP-technologies electrophotography and ink jet (figs. 3, 14, 15, 16, 25).

Examples for innovative new technologies and product concepts which are “on the road” to be checked and used in practice are mentioned like E-book, E-ink, E-paper (figs. 29, 30, 31), erasable and rewritable substrate/surfaces with storage capability (fig. 6, 7), OLEDs, MEMSs (e. g. digital micro mirror devices) and PLZT-light valves for designing new imaging systems, etc. as well as improved and new print production techniques and systems.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-01-01

More about this publication?
  • For more than 25 years, NIP has been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in non-impact and digital printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems, including drop-on-demand ink jet, wide format ink jet, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based electrophotographic printers, production digital printing systems, and thermal printing systems, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields.

    Since 2005, NIP has been held in conjunction with the Digital Fabrication Conference.

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