My last post, Paper Suppliers and Crisis Communications, continued our coverage an ongoing series looking at the impact of paper scarcity on production inkjet print providers. Partnering with your printing equipment manufacturer may well be your ticket out of your paper supply headaches. This post offers suggestions to these manufacturers on how they can help out print providers adjust their strategies to account for tightness in paper supply.
While the price difference between inkjet treated and coated grades and comparative offset grades have come closer, there is still a premium paid for the inkjet variants. This is acceptable for many print providers as long as the inventory is available. Being able to purchase in bulk and use the same stock throughout an operation is an advantage that printers also seek. The race to print on traditional offset coated and uncoated stocks has picked up over the last few years and several of the major equipment vendors have solutions to expand the printable range of substrates through paper coaters, new ink formulations, and improved drying technologies. OEM’s want their customers to have access to lots of papers. It’s not over just because they sold you a press, if you can’t print, they don’t make money.
The OEMs also have dedicated media testing operations designed to work with the mills and their print provider customers to determine which grades work well on their equipment. It’s important for this activity to continue to help expand the range of substrates and ensure the printability of the grades on all variants and speeds of their equipment. This is especially important for commercial print providers who typically run a wider range of papers and seek to reduce the disruptions associated with running paper trials. If a machine doesn’t support offset papers – the equipment manufacturers better be prepared to testing support for on alternative grades. This includes coordinating with both the mills and finishing partners. Equipment manufacturers need to understand that, for the foreseeable future, they will be judged as much on their paper program as the print technology they offer to the market.
My next post will suggest ways that print providers prepare themselves to weather this difficult time.