Digital Markets Are Emerging Bit by Bit
On-demand digital printing feeds dynamic niches for a variety of products.
Digital color printing came on the scene in the early '90s, meeting demands for small quantities of high-quality printing quickly and affordably. Yet many in the industry are still grappling with big-picture ramifications, which involve equipment purchases, new product knowledge and marketing, staff training and customer education.
However, for others the assimilation was rapid, and applying this technology to certain obvious applications is resulting in growth and profitability.
Consider Dallas-based Hedge Creative. With "print, PIN and ship in three days or less" as its motto, the company specializes in small to medium runs of digitally printed debit, membership and prepaid phone cards. According to President Jeff Hedge, "Digital printing is the perfect choice for four-color process printing in quantities of a few up to 10,000."
Hedge noted that with digital printing, the ordering process can differ slightly from that of conventional printing.
"For example, with short runs of digitally printed promotional phone cards, we must have the entire order, artwork and PINs in order to go to press," he said. "But with larger offset runs, we can go to press and go through the die cutting process before we require PINs from the client." The upshot is that Hedge Creative can turn around digital phone cards in as few as three days, while conventional offset cards could take up to two weeks to produce.
By adding just one additional day to the process, Hedge Creative provides card products in value-added, custom die-cut shapes. An eye-catching, uniquely shaped prepaid plastic phone card may even feature a hole for a keyring, creating a dynamic promotional marketing piece.
In addition to card products, Hedge finds digital printing ideally suited for short runs of fliers, brochures, business cards, personalized nametags, pressure-sensitive labels and anything requiring sequential numbering.