There is no doubt that the future of both colour and black & white printers lies in the lucrative production print environment. But, in order for commercial printers to benefit from the fast growing light production segment in particular, they must go the digital route - or stand the risk of fading into oblivion."Konica Minolta South Africa believes that the future is in light production," says Paul Symonds, product manager at Bidvest company, Konica Minolta South Africa. "In fact, we predict that 70 percent of all production jobs will be 5 000 copies or less."If they don’t go digital, traditional litho printers will find it very difficult to meet the rapidly growing ‘print on demand’ market with its short-turnaround needs. In South Africa alone, in excess of one billion prints are made per month currently and if the traditional print shop doesn’t get into this market, it stands to seriously lose out on guaranteed income," he explains."There is simply no window period in the light production space for the preparation of plates, time restraints where some jobs can take two to three days to complete and mistakes that are costly."Symonds maintains that by opting for digitisation, these businesses will be able to meet users’ "web-to-print" demands, where quotes, orders and confirmations are all handled via e-mail as well as a growing demand for variable data printing, or what is now referred to as transpromo printing.Digital devices will also enable them to implement workflow software that can be used to balance workloads, meaning that larger print jobs can be divided across a number of machines, improving productivity. "The software is also intelligent enough for print jobs to be split across colour machines in conjunction with black & white devices, as necessary."The race is definitely on amongst vendors within this space to enable commercial printers to profit from the increase in light production demand," he explains. "Konica Minolta South Africa is pleased to announce that it will be able to offer machines that will be able to produce 120 pages per minutes by next year."
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