Use variable imaging to modernize mature product lines
By Carol A. Katarsky
As technology continues racing along at its feverish pace, many printers are looking for ways to add value to their products. One of the most promising developments in this area is variable imaging.
Graphic Systems Services (GSS), Kettering, Ohio, provides offline transport systems and inline variable imaging systems for forms manufacturers.
GSS' director of sales, Dick Prentice, said the most common, and oldest forms of variable imaging are bar coding and numbering, but new opportunities abound in direct mail, labels, on demand publishing, shipping forms with tracking information, invoices and statements, as well as many other products.
Jeff Prettyman, executive vice president/director of marketing, for NextWave Digital Color Printing, Alpharetta, Ga., said the market for four-color variable imaging is up and he expects it to grow tremendously during the next few years.
NextWave produces variable imaging mostly on marketing pieces such as brochures and sales sheets as well as direct mail. "With good database management, one-to-one marketing is relatively easy," he noted.
Dick Thornburg, vice president of major accounts, Adams Business Forms, Topeka, Kan., said he expects variable imaging will see double digit increases during the next five years. Adams' most common uses of variable imaging are bar coding and numbering on form/label combinations and direct mail applications.
"It takes a creative mind to sell variable imaging. It can be used on any printed material that benefits from individualization," Thornburg said. "People are using technology to make older products new again," he noted.
While variable imaging can be used to enhance traditional products, the process itself is also improving.
"The equipment and software will improve, offering better speeds, more color capability and greater dpi. Today, applications are expanding beyond direct mail or forms into areas such as bingo cards or gaming tickets. In the future, there could be new applications involving fabrics or other substrates as the technology evolves," said Prentice.