The Print Industry – A Year In Review

As we head towards the end of 2023, in preparation for our 2024 print planning cycle, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the changes we have seen within the print industry this year.  As new technologies and innovations have developed, we have seen key trends emerge.  The economic downturn, increasing interest rates and the rising costs of living, has impacted many businesses, and the print sector is no different.  I have certainly seen upwards of at least a 20% increase in material costs alone this year, which is not great.

It is important to start to plan your marketing activity at this time of year for 2024, so you can be ready, to start the new year with renewed energy and focus.  So, with all of this in mind here is our 2023 – A Year in Review – enjoy! 

1. Sustainable Printing

We could not start our review without looking at how the industry has become more sustainable over recent years.  With sustainable print options becoming more and more popular it has been great to play a part in helping businesses make the transition.  The advantage of sustainable print is not just regarding our environmental impact but our clients’ too. Thankfully there are more and more sustainable alternatives hitting the market, here are some of the highlights: 

  • Recycled Paper – We stock a range of 100% recycled, part-recycled and FSC® certified papers. 
  • Grass paper labels – The recyclable grass paper material is made from 30% grass (or more accurately, sun-dried hay) and 70% FSC® -certified virgin pulp. It is produced using special grass pellets that are processed mechanically without using any chemicals. Compared to wood pulp processing, this requires 97% less energy and 99% less water consumption to produce.
  • Recyclable drinkware – All of our drink bottles and universal tumblers are recyclable plastic making them a sustainable choice for giveaways. We also stock biodegradable drinks bottles and tumblers which break down much faster if they end up in landfill or the ocean. Once disposed of, in a few years it becomes food for microbes leaving behind no microplastics, just natural remnant.
  • LED UV Printing – LED UV uses ultraviolet light for an instant drying process, colours are left more vivid, and the designs are much sharper. This ‘green’ printing method uses much less power than traditional print-drying technology and the instant on/ off functionality reduces standby consumption between jobs and reduces overall CO2 emissions. 

2. Personalisation

The marketing industry in general has definitely seen a shift to the personalisation of all marketing collateral and the print process is no different.  With the latest trends and a move to more digital printing techniques in the industry, has made this even more accessible.  So we can now personalise invitations, promotional items and even your next direct marketing project with individual letters as well as offering complete mail fulfilment.

3. Introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

From pre-production, print management to customer service, since AI took off last year quickly becoming a key part in the printing process. Here are some of the ways AI has revolutionised the print process: 

  • AI printing software can help to maximise space on a single sheet of paper by taking the print sizes and border measurements of many orders and calculate how to create the most efficient print layout, saving paper, energy and money.
  • AI powered software can quickly detect when a colour makeup may have deviated from the original colour and automatically correct it. Printing consistent colours reduces costs with reprints and saves print staff time that would be better spent elsewhere.
  • Whether it’s through misalignment of crop marks or damage to the surface of the paper, quality controlled AI can use cameras trained to identify potential faults in the printing.

4. Digital Printing

Digital printing is quickly outpacing traditional printing methods.  According to Smithers, Between 2022 and 2027 the analogue printing industry is expected to experience a growth rate of 0.8% vs the digital printing industry is expected to witness a growth rate of 5.7%.   The industry as a whole is expected to reach an estimated value of $189.8 billion globally by 2027.  We are also seeing some trends with digital printing continuing to grow and break into the textile industry.

5. New Product Lines

This year we have been excited to introduce some new product lines and printing techniques for our clients, the highlight of which has been some special effects and finishes.  Spot UV varnishing can be applied not only onto the logo on a business card or leaflet but to greeting cards and hard cover books to really elevate visibility.  New products include PVC-Free banner materials making short term advertising more economical, our personalised range now includes chocolate bars and personalised metal drinks bottlles.

It has been an exciting year in the world of print and there is more to come in 2024, with some of these trends continuing.  I am also excited to have grown the business, Amerjeet has now joined the team to help out with some of our creative projects.  As always, if you would like some help with your next print project please get in touch. 

Raina Joyce

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