The first significant round of high-speed, full-color inkjet installs went into the field mid- to late last year, and I just finished a round of interviews with early adopters to understand what drove their decisions to invest early and what their experiences have been.
There were some very clear patterns that transcended company size, vertical, and specialty.
1. The decision to invest in high-speed inkjet was likely made long before the install. They had simply been waiting for the technology to be commercially viable.
2. The investment was driven by specific customer needs so compelling that these companies were willing to let the technology be tested and the bugs worked out even while they were in production.
3. Paper handling, high-speed imaging heads, and the ability to match pre- and post-press to the speed of the new technology were the biggest implementation issues they faced (or were facing).
In all cases, selection of a vendor was based on past relationship or close proximity to the production location. That’s a loud statement about early adopters’ acceptance of the reality that the technology still has some kinks. Several talked off the record about the fact that imaging technology was, in some cases, still developing, but even that wasn’t enough to stop the investment. They’d just fix or upgrade it in the field.
These patterns transcended format size, personalization / static, planned / JIT and so on. This was not, “Build it and they will come.” This was, “It hurts. When are we going to be able to fix it?”