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drupa Print Horizons Report: Print Industry in transition to a digital world

The Print Horizons Report, published in March, is a brief guide to the most important topics that printers and suppliers need to research when preparing for drupa.

The findings are based on additional questions from the 9th drupa Global Trends Survey on the key technical and market developments likely to dominate drupa 2024. The report provides valuable insights and helps prepare all printers for the changes in the industry, with a large part focused on digitalisation but also sustainability and ai.
Regardless of their size, region, or market, all printers must recognize the seismic shifts in print caused by digitization. Indeed, the challenge lies in deciding where to begin, given the rapid pace of so many radical changes.
The 9th drupa Global Trends report, published in November last year, was remarkably positive given the challenges faced in the last few years. Printers and suppliers know that exploiting new technology is key to a successful future. The problem is how best to achieve this end. With this in mind, the 2023 Trends survey asked a range of questions on technology opportunities and priorities. From the replies, the authors of the study draw up six key topics, which were at the top of the Market participants’ priority lists for further research and investment:
The changing dynamics of analogue and digital production
Workflow and Automation
Print Embellishment and Finishing
Web-to Print
Digital Packaging and Labels
Sustainability and ESG
The Printz Horizons Report addresses each of these topics and explores the survey findings, complemented by commentaries from industry specialists made in a series of interviews with this report’s authors.
The changing dynamics of analogue and digital production
The majority of printers will continue to use conventional print in tandem with digital production. If implemented effectively, the two processes should complement, not compete. Digital print should be seen as a core production method.
While sheetfed toner technology still dominates the volume end of this market, inkjet in its various guises is where most supplier effort is focussed. Past simple conversations about the economic breakeven point between conventional and digital print have been overtaken by more sophisticated dialogues about how digital print can change a market and optimize production efficiency.
Investments need to be made
Print companies need to understand that investment in digital printing needs to go hand-in-hand with the digitalisation of other business processes. For example, many printers have made valiant attempts at automating individual workflows, but few have yet to tackle the bigger challenge of creating a single automated workflow from PDF to final product. This may be the time.
Artificial Intelligence will of course also play a role. No technology report is complete today without giving attention to the impact of AI. It is already used in a number of applications within the print industry and drupa 2024 will see many suppliers promoting the benefits of using AI to assist and augment human capabilities.
Sustainability and ESG
No printer or supplier can afford to ignore sustainability any longer. Increasingly actions taken to increase sustainability are also good for the bottom line and are also demanded by customers, so it is a no-brainer to tackle the task with enthusiasm.
ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is more challenging, not least because there is no clear definition and legislators are struggling to codify what is meant. For now, printers and suppliers may wish to start with what they understand, namely formalising their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policy and processes.
The Print Horizons Report goes into greater detail on these topics and more and will prepare industry professionals to make the most of their time at drupa 2024.



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