Market conditions for European publication printing: a twenty year survey 1985-2005
2006 (English)In: Proceedings of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA, Rochester: TAGA , 2006, 24-42 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
This paper deals with an important part of an ongoing survey of the European Publication Printing Industry - and highlights the present market conditions and product specifications in relation to the conditions which prevailed twenty years ago. In 1985-86, one of the most comprehensive studies of the publication printing industry was carried out by the European Rotogravure Association in Munich. This study was the first of its kind, and no comparable study has, to the author's knowledge, ever been reported. The objective of the present paper is to determine what factors are important when the choice of a particular printing method is made, and to consider whether this process was fundamentally different in 1985 than it is today. The hypothesis now being formulated is that the determining factors in 1985 were the economy of scale, the speed (lead-time) and finally the quality of the printing process to be chosen. In order to make the two studies comparable, the same questionnaire has been used today as twenty years ago, with only one minor amendment concerning what digital format that present customers prefer. In the present investigation, a qualitative approach has complemented the quantitative study, and most questionnaires have been answered during rather extensive personal interviews. The recent investigation includes in-depth interviews with the leading managers in various sectors in the industry, and this time not only printers but also the most important suppliers - printing press manufacturers, paper and ink manufacturers, plate processing equipment suppliers, cylinder processing equipment manufacturers and other important contributors to the printing process, were interrogated. This approach has also given the author the possibility of explaining some of the issues in greater detail, and this will give the reader a deeper understanding of the current European market situation. The extremely fast progress of digital technology in the 1990's had a great impact on the printing industry, particularly in the prepress area. New and affordable software packages for editorial and image manipulation were quickly accepted by the printing industry, and within a short time the previous analogue technology was abandoned. During the recent interviews, it became clear that most prepress work is now done outside the printing companies (outsourced). Even the integrated publisher/printer prepress work has moved from the printing to the publishing division. These new techniques created a dramatic change from the way in which the industry had previously worked. Suddenly, the customer gained complete control of the work flow, mostly based on PDF technology (a subset of Postscript) and of the prepress work, previously created and controlled by the printing industry. Digital advertising materials are today centrally produced according to the new ISO standards for publication printing (gravure or weboffset). Larger multi-European campaigns can be produced by one agency, whilst the different language versions are later distributed via the Internet. This paper shows that the changes in the market conditions and product requirements have been dramatic in Europe during the last 20 years, and that further changes are about to happen. These new developments in both prepress and press for web-offset have put the gravure industry under immense pressure, and it has become very clear during the interviews that the mid-size gravure concept has fallen between two stools. Most efforts have gone into the development of the super-wide presses, today 3.8 m or wider, whilst little effort has been put into the lower end of the market. A new approach to defend the mid-size markets in Europe may be needed.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Rochester: TAGA , 2006. 24-42 p.
Commercial web-offset; Gravure cylinders; International markets; Plate-making; Press proof; Publication gravure printing; Quality
Media and Communications
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13805ScopusID: 2-s2.0-33847362630OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-13805DiVA: diva2:327391
58th Annual Technical Conference of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA 2006; Vancouver, BC; 19 March 2006 through 21 March 2006
QC 201006292010-06-292010-06-292010-06-29Bibliographically approved