Tough times for commercial print?

Dr. Joe Webb recently posted that December’s numbers were the worst of the year. He believes it will mean $5 billion less in commercial print in the coming year. I don’t mind saying that makes me a little nervous. Two and a half times the revenue of our parent company gone?

It also means that printers will be under more pressure than ever to reduce waste and cut costs. That’s pretty much the fundimental purpose behind press controls (our main product), and so one can hope the market for those will expand a bit.

One thought on “Tough times for commercial print?

  1. Dr. Webb has been following the economic health of the nation and the health of the industry for quite some time. Much of his views on the national health have been irrelevant and the recent news about the accelerated drop in print shipments only confirms that situation.
    The game has changed and it is now a game of survival. Not only for printers but also for suppliers. This situation of a shrinking market has not sunk in yet. There is not enough fear yet in printers and suppliers camps to try things that they would not have done before. There is still this effort to refine existing concepts and not to plan to make them obsolete. I would suspect that a lot of the science oriented staff have left the printers and suppliers ranks because there was not enough interest to look at concepts that would not generate income quickly.
    I have a situation where on press manufacturer is very slow to develop a technology. Another and much larger press manufacturer says that the technology would work but they are too busy to investigate it. They are not afraid enough yet.
    This has happened so many times before. Companies waste resources refining old technology and then suddenly a new concept that is more effective and costs less, is introduced by a competitor. Suddenly the company is in very serious trouble.
    But these kind of things are never really a surprise. They are ususally ideas that were just not worth looking at before.
    The technical community in the printing industry has been the greatest barrier to progress. They prefer to continue to develop what they know best and are afraid of pushing limits or concepts that will make their own knowledge obsolete. It is just human nature but it is also the cause of the problem.
    This is a technology driven industry but it is not a science driven industy. After all these years, the industry still is indifferent to the fundamental causes of variation and prefers to cope with them by adding layer upon layer of technology, which is never enough.
    There will be a lot of pain coming and it is deserved due to the lack of internal innovation.
    Erik Nikkanen
    Fountech Inc.


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