The printing industry continues to change at an ever quickening rate. With Drupa looming next month it will be interesting to see what the major manufacturers will be showing.

The realities of the internet age are that everyone wants things quicker. Therefore the pressure in the industry is to be able to get from concept to finished product in ever quicker times.

All the emphasis on workflows and software solutions is on being able to process ever larger amounts of data at ever quicker rates.

Likewise the press manufacturers are moving to greater automation both in the physical handling of plates to the transfer of data from the pre press area direct to the press so that make ready times continue to get faster.

The race to get from plates starting to be mounted to the first saleable sheet coming out of the delivery continues with the ‘big two’ (Komori and Heidleberg ‘slugging it out’ as they have done for the last several major exhibitions.

Even with shorter run lengths the running speeds of presses is now reaching the heady heights of up to 18,000 sheets per hour which is considered near the physical limit of being able to move and continue to control a sheet of paper.

Of course with ever shorter run lengths the industry is turning to high speed ink jet printing as a way to economically produce such jobs. Again the large amount of money being invested in research and development into producing multi head arrays of high speed ink jets reflects the view that many manufacturers have that ultimately much printing will be done by non impact methods.

Many people think that the added automation and the emphasis on digital output is reducing the need for skills. However while this is true to some extent there is no doubt that having a grounding in the traditional skills is a tremendous asset to those of us that remain in the industry.

 Having seen this tremendous change I cannot help but wonder what the Drupa after this one will bring us!

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