The Future of Newspapers and Digital Printing

By | June 25, 2008

Earlier this month at Drupa, Océ demonstrated the new JetStream 2200 printing full color newspapers from around the world. We were printing and folding them in real time in the booth. People could stop and pick up today’s copy of the New York Times, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Herald Tribune. The color consistency and image quality of the JetStream produced papers that were superior to the originals being printed half a world away.

Océ has been an active promoter of digital newspaper production dating back to the creation of the Digital Newspaper Network in 2001. In April we made our first foray into world of the daily newspaper with our participation in the Newspapers of America’s NEXPO Conference in Washington, D.C.. At that conference we had an opportunity to introduce ourselves to a market that is almost completely new to us. In preparation for this event certain market forces became clear to us that convinced us that our message was one that they would embrace.

The last couple years the newspaper industry has been under considerable economic pressure. Revenues from national, retail and classified advertising have plummeted – classified being the hardest hit with a decline of over 16% last year. The newspaper industry has been exploring the opportunities of making their content more individualized. They have come up with notions like content tagged to individual carrier routes, neighborhoods and a new concept called “micro-zoning”. The result would be a press run with lots of variable elements and versions. This is not the kind of work that their presses are designed to do.

Enter Océ and our digital message. Our experience in the transactional world makes us exactly partner that they have been looking for without even knowing it. Variable data printing, dynamic composition and advanced data management are some of our strong points and exactly the areas where their industry has the least expertise. When combined with the power of our production management software and our continuous feed printers it is truly a match that shows the way to the future of the newspaper.

In late June we will again be bringing our message to the newspaper industry at a gathering of industry thought leaders in Denver at an event called the second global Conference on the Individuated Newspaper. We have been selected to be a sponsor of this conference that it being hosted by the MediaNews Group. MediaNews Group is one of the largest newspaper companies in the United States situated throughout California, the Rocky Mountain region and the Northeast.

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6 thoughts on “The Future of Newspapers and Digital Printing

  1. Andy McCourt

    Pat,
    Good question and one I am currently researching avidly to sort the facts from speculation. It seems true that Inkjet-printed newsprint, like Flexo, is harder to de-ink. The 1-3 micron, maybe sub-micron dye particles coupled with hydrophillic nature of the carrier challenge current oil-based and toner-based de-inking installations. There is no question that inkjet newsprint can be recycled – it can. It can also derive from originally high recycled feedstock anyway. The issue is de-inking and therefore whether it can be recycled into white graphic paper again. I checked with Australia’s largest recycler and they treat inkjet printed paper the same as toner printed, and produce testliner and cartonboard (Visy Smithfield mill, Sydney). On the de-inking issue, enzyme de-colouring has been proven to work. A marine bacteria ‘eats’ dyes. So this seems to be de-colouring rather than de-inking. One think for sure, HP, Kodak and of course Oce are working very hard to address the de-inking issue. You might want to check with the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper – largest Flexo plant in the world. They must be addressing recyclability of their products and the issue will be the same or similar for Flexo. My guess is the overall carbon footprint of Inkjetted newsprint will be much smaller than that for conventional offset; and that’s what counts.

  2. Kayecee

    Yes, I’d really like to see a video of the process too. Do you know if there is one available somewhere? Thanks.

  3. Axel Fischer

    Pat & Andy,

    as already said elsewhere: Flexo inks in Europe are currently a major problem — especially in the UK and in Italy. We are in constant discussions with the printers to use better deinkable inks. For recycling paper into graphic paper there are several specifications for the recovered paper, one of them says “no flexographic printing allowed”. It is also not acceptred in deinking grades. Downcycling paper into board is also an option, but there is a strong political demand in Europe to use recovered paper even for higher grades than newspaper.

    We learned that these problems also exist in the US, e. g. at wasteage.com/mag/waste_profiles_garbage_newspaper/ you can read about US mills: “Many newsprint mills reject newspaper published with flexographic inks because those inks are hard to remove from paper fibers.” There is no qualitative difference in terms of deinkability between flexo inks and inkjet inks — the problems are currently about the same. And the story about enzymes has been arouind for a long time but I do not know of any mill where this works in a commercial scale.

    We see some possibly interesting development coming up with HP’s bonding agent for inkjet which might lead to better deinking behaviour. Until then I doubt that messing up an existing recycling system leaves a smaller carbon footprint …

    If you ever come to Europe, you are very welcome to visit a state-of-the-art paper recycling mill here with me and learn “hands on” what is facts and what is speculation.

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