High-Speed Inkjet: Willing to Take the Risk

By | February 24, 2012

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?”

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3 thoughts on “High-Speed Inkjet: Willing to Take the Risk

  1. Pat McGrew


    I think every point you made was spot on. However, highspeed inkjet web presses have been in the field and producing commerical work for almost a decade. The early adopters of the technology — the DST Output, HansaPrint, BlueStar, RotoMail, BRoadridge, Bank of America and CitiGroup and FDR folks who adopted over the last ten years have been vocal and ehlpful to all of the vendors in the market who support the space.

    There may be confusion in the inkjet technology space. Continuous inkjet using dye has been in the market at high speed for almost a decade and was adopted by the earliest pioneers. Drop on Demand inkjet came to us with drupa in 2008 and was adopted by many in the tranaction space who bought from the whole range of providers including Impika, Oce, InfoPrint, Kodak and HP. TIJ came to market as well, with HP and the T-series and PB and IJ series. And the next generation of Continuous have been introduced as Prosper and Xerox has come to makret with their technologies. There is a lot of inkjet.

    Significant installs have been in the field for quite some time. Everything else… yep… all a work in progress!


  2. Don Piontek

    Publisher’s Clearing House (remember them?) was using the Mead Digital Systems continuous 12″-wide head at 1,000 f.p.m back in 1981! That’s a bit of ink-jet trivia. The ONE thing that I hear most of the time is the cost of ink-jet ink. If vendors were to bring the cost of ink down, they would sell more systems. It’s as simple as that.

  3. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    @Pat Agreed — the post was written with the assumption that is understood by readers. The context was the new generation of systems being installed in the field.

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