Is digital always disruptive?

  • May 26, 2018

By Shelagh Hammer

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What does digital mean to you?

At Highcon we put a lot of effort into deciding how to best describe the benefits of the technology and products that we  introduce to the market. The one word that cannot be avoided is probably also the one that  may be perhaps the most misunderstood: Digital.

So how on earth does digital go together with finishing in the print world?

The thing about digital is that it’s all about communication or transmitting information or data. And print is all about communicating information too – so maybe they do belong together.

And yet… if we go back to maybe the first use of digital in our daily lives – on our watches (Yes, some of us are old enough to still wear a watch and not completely rely on a smartphone!) – the blanknew digital watches were more accurate, didn’t need winding but as with all technology, they changed the way we did things. Nine times out of ten, when we look at our watch, it’s not to see what time it is but rather to see how long until the next meeting, lunch, or the arrival of a train. With the arrival of digital – we had to do mental arithmetic rather than visually understand the difference.

In the same way, the advent of digital printing actually changed the way we bought and delivered print products. Instead of a long lead time manufacturing process that had customers overstocking in order to buy in volume and reduce price, we now expect immediate supply of a precise number of products on-demand.

In the print business digital technology has led to:​

Shorter print runs With the ability to produce on-demand, just-in-time printing, print runs have become constantly shorter as customers buy only what they need
 blank Online purchasing With online purchasing becoming more and more popular – U.S. e-commerce holiday spending was expected to top $107 billion this year, that’s $13 billion more than in 2016 – consumers are expecting the same level of service that they get from online purchasing to apply to their print buying. They expect the same as they get from Amazon – 24-48 hours delivery.
blank Rapid response This is where the influence of digital technology has the biggest effect – print customers are expecting a far higher level of responsiveness from their printers than they were willing to accept in the past.
 blank  Customization Segmentation, customization, and even personalization down to 1.
Today’s consumers are interested only in what’s relevant to them. In the print world this means differentiated versions per region, demographics, season or language and even personalized products per individual.

All these things combine to turn the print manufacturing business into a print service business.

And the natural continuation of that, of course, is the need for digital in the finishing part of the process. Which is where Highcon comes in.

One of the side effects of the digital generation has been the “hurry up and wait” effect. It’s less prevalent now than it was with the increased processing speeds. But if the print product you were thinking of buying was a folder, a brochure, a greeting card, or a package – then even if you were printing digitally you were going to need to wait for a die to be made to do the cutting and creasing.

The Highcon Euclid and Highcon Beam digital cutting and creasing machines have revolutionized the traditional process of finishing. In addition to the digital benefits mentioned above, there are the further advantages of a massive reduction in space and cost of inventory storage, and the increase in sustainability that comes from storing files on a thumb drive or computer disk rather than warehouses full of huge wooden dies full of metal and rubber parts.

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