No exception

By Steve Katz, Editor | November 21, 2013

“Everything that can become digital will become digital. Printing is no exception.”

The above statement made in 1993 by Indigo founder Benny Landa, who sold his company to HP in 2001, was probably scoffed at by some in the printing industry.

I bet it would be tough to find someone today that will admit to remarking back then that digital printing is something that won’t catch on. People probably said similar things about the internet. And while digital printing in the label world took its share of lumps when it was in its infancy, the technology has become increasingly more reliable, and now it is mainstream.

For evidence, look no further than Mark Andy’s recent announcement of its entrance into the digital market. Here we have a top flexo press manufacturer that’s not boasting how flexo technology can or should be a converter’s printing process of choice, but suggesting that flexo and digital fit together nicely in a pressroom.

“Mark Andy’s hybrid press concept, including a high speed, six-color inkjet engine, is a compelling addition to the inkjet side of digital,” says Bob Leahey, associate director with InfoTrends’ Color Digital Label and Packaging Service. “It’s a vote of confidence in inkjet for label converting from one of the world’s top flexo brands, one with a strong channel to converters in all regions.”

The conventional printing press dates back to 3000 BC. It’s had a good run, and of course the run isn’t over. Flexo, offset and silkscreen printers are not about to go by way of the rotary phone, cassette tapes and the card catalog. Nor will I ever be flying to work in my jetpack. However, my self-driving car might take me there, really.

We’re living in a digital world, and in the label industry, this world has never been bigger. Our November/December issue has become our annual digital printing issue, and throughout this edition – even apart from our feature stories – digital is everywhere. From Mark Andy’s digital platform announcement in Industry News to our Narrow Web Profile of Paris Art Label to our Labelexpo Europe  coverage – digital is everywhere.

While perhaps, previously, the technology was touted as an alternative to flexo, today it seems the conversation has shifted to discussing digital in terms of something to complement and add to a converters arsenal of conventional presses.

I’m curious to see how far digital technology will influence our industry, and also what the next big breakthrough will be. HP acquired Indigo from Landa in 2001, so in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t take very long for the company and the technology to become what it is today. I’ll close with a quote from the late Douglas Engelbart, a inventor and early computer and internet pioneer: “The digital revolution is far more significant than the invention of writing or even of printing.”

Steve Katz, Editor
Twitter: @LabelSteve
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