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Market conditions for European publication printing: a twenty year survey 1985-2005
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Graphic Arts, Media.
2006 (English)In: Proceedings of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA, Rochester: TAGA , 2006, 24-42 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

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.
Keyword [en]
Commercial web-offset; Gravure cylinders; International markets; Plate-making; Press proof; Publication gravure printing; Quality
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13805Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-33847362630OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-13805DiVA: diva2:327391
Conference
58th Annual Technical Conference of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA 2006; Vancouver, BC; 19 March 2006 through 21 March 2006
Note
QC 20100629Available from: 2010-06-29 Created: 2010-06-29 Last updated: 2010-06-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Gravure vs. Web-offset!: a changing world in publication printing 1986-2006
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gravure vs. Web-offset!: a changing world in publication printing 1986-2006
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The European publication printing industry and its markets have undergone profound structural changes between 1986 and 2006. This thesis is an investigation of these changes and of how the publication industry has been affected, as well as of the balance between publication gravure and commercial heat-set web-offset. The publication printing market has grown substantially during 1986-2006, and the increase in volume is about 250%, from 5 million tons to 13 million tons of paper. In 1986, gravure was the dominating publication printing technique. Since 1986, however, web-offset printing has grown substantially, and the process has today a much larger market share of the European publication market. This domination is also reflected in the investments in new printing capacity since 2000, where 70-75% has gone to commercial heat-set web-offset press manufacturers.

This thesis focuses on the reasons why the balance between the two competing publication printing techniques, gravure and web-offset, changed between 1986 and 2006. It also studies the main driving forces determining the developments of these techniques and their related processes as well as their competitive strengths. Is gravure a printing process suitable only for very large runs, for huge volumes and for large markets? The changes in the European media market have affected the two major segments of the publication market; magazine and catalogue printing. In the magazine market, print runs in the segments of medium to large titles have decreased, and catalogues have changed from a single, thick catalogue to thinner; more targeted catalogues.

This thesis is based on two studies. The first, focused on the market requirements and techno-economical comparisons of gravure and web-offset in 1985-1986, was carried out by the author as the Secretary General of the European Rotogravure Association (ERA), and the second, in 2005-2006, has investigated the present situation on the European publication markets. The methodologies used in the investigations have been questionnaires (the originals 1985-86 have also been used in 2005-2006), surveys, literature studies and a substantial number of interviews with representatives of print buyers (publishers and catalogue producers), printers and all the major suppliers to the industry.

Given these changes, how can the competitiveness of publication gravure be improved and what strategies should a publication gravure printer use in order to survive in a very competitive European market? With shorter runs in very fast running gravure presses, the turn-around time in the cylinder-engraving department becomes very critical. A Double Ender gravure press for paginations from 16-64 pages, with an alternative up to 96 pages, where only four cylinders are needed, in combination with high-speed laser engraving of the cylinders, may be the answer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2007. viii, 134 p.
Series
Trita-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2007:4
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4394 (URN)978-91-7178-641-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-06-05, Sal F3, KTH, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100629Available from: 2007-05-28 Created: 2007-05-28 Last updated: 2012-03-19Bibliographically approved

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