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Global Markets

Jul 15, 2012 12:00 AM


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DIGITAL PRINTING: ROOM TO GROW IN CHINA
BY MICHELLE LIU

Since digital printing technology entered the Chinese market 10 years ago, it has grown rapidly. The Chinese government also has given strong policy support its development of digital printing.

In early 2011, the State Press and Publication Administration released the "12th Five-Year Plan for Press Publishing Industry in Development". The plan, which covers 2011 to 2015, calls for digital printing to be more than 20% of China's printing by 2015. Other goals include the following: 

  • To grow the Chinese printing industry output to more than 11,00 billion Yuan RMB.
  • To implement green and environmentally friendly printing.
  • To be the world's second largest printing country, and therefore the world's printing center.
  • To restructure and upgrade China's printing industry, with particular emphasis on digital printing and digitizing analog processes.

The share of digital vs. traditional printing in China is still very small. Even in Shanghai where digital printing is well developed, the share is still only 1%. At the same time, according to Digital Printing magazine's 2011 "Digital Printing in China" survey, the domestic digital printing applications focus on the field of graphic print, digital proofing and personalized printing. There is a large space for digital printing to grow in label printing, commercial paper printing, on-demand publishing and direct mail. These are applications where traditional printers have more familiarity and expertise.

CHANGING MARKET PATTERNS
In 2011, quick print shops were still the main purchasers of digital printing equipment. But traditional printing companies are now changing the market pattern. These traditional printers are purchasing production digital printing equipment to undertake jobs that are not effective on traditional printing equipment. Distributing the print shop work to create the new printing models is another digital purchase reason. Another is combining digital print with web-to-print for on-demand publishing.

HP AND KODAK DOMINATE DIGITAL SCENE
The digital printers used are mainly HP Indigo and Kodak Nexpress. Two high-speed continuous inkjet presses have also been installed in 2011. According to the latest news at drupa 2012, many laser and high-speed inkjet digital printing presses have been ordered to be installed in Chinese traditional printing enterprises. These enterprises are state-owned large-scale traditional printing commercial printing, book printing companies. Another buyer at drupa was a large private enterprise specializing in overseas orders.

MANY STILL WAITING
But more traditional printing companies are still waiting before moving to digital. Especially compared with developed countries, Chinese digital printing businesses do not combine seamlessly with the network and other IT elements. They lack ways to minimize the end-to-end digital printing process.

FINAL THOUGHTS
What should traditional printing businesses do when they face the big "cake" of digital printing? First of all, it is essential for them to have a suitable self-development business model.

Secondly, the selection process for the right digital printing equipment cannot be ignored. Since the equipment performance varies, the printer selection must be made according to the needs of each business and the capabilities of each printer.