Imprinters Make Their Marks
Changes in the industry have an impact on imprinting.
To some, imprinting refers to screened or embroidered logos and marketing messages on promotional items. But in the printed document industry, imprinting usually describes personalization on checks, consecutive number applications, bar codes and variable data—mostly done in black ink—applied inline during product production or added later to pre-printed stock.
Non-impact printing technologies—such as laser and ink jet—have had a tremendous impact on the use and manufacturing of imprinting equipment. Ten years ago, there were approximately 28 imprinting equipment manufacturers worldwide. Today, there are fewer than half that.
Depending on whom you talk to, the reasons may include difficult registration, a glut in the market, improper marketing techniques and, obviously, computer technology.
Demand Still Alive
But according to Enrico Ruta, president of Orlando, Florida-based FME, the demand for the application is alive and experiencing a growth spurt, especially for short-run pack-to-pack web offset work. And the manufacturing of the equipment has not come to a halt—it has just been restructured and consolidated a bit.
"There's a real misconception out there," said Ruta. "The market has not declined, but people stopped manufacturing imprinters because it wasn't profitable for them, especially some of the sheet-fed equipment manufacturers who got into the game. They didn't know how to market them properly for short-run imprinting and conventional continuous forms applications."
Ruta stated that sheet-fed and continuous applications must be handled differently—from quoting the job and processing the job ticket through the plant up to and including distribution.
When evaluating short run orders, Ruta stressed thinking in terms of the dollar figure rather than the number of pieces. He defined a typical short-run job as being between $350 and $600. "Printing a small number of a four-color, four-part form can be much more expensive than producing a larger volume of a one-part form," said Ruta.