I am relatively young in the industry (mid-30s) yet all around I read the phrase “Print is dead” and if you grew up in this industry like me, it hurts. But I will not deny it, I hear about it every day at my job: Offset printers are closing at an alarming rate in most markets. Print-shop after print-shop they are shutting down, laying off people, destroying dreams and inundating the market with used machinery that sometimes seem more like museum pieces nobody really needs or wants nowadays.
The perpetrator of this crime goes under different aliases: The PC, the internet, the smart-phone or the tablet. All labels and avatars for the digital age we live in, a world that is insidious and inescapable, yet also incredibly convenient and alluring. Make no mistake: The digital age is here to stay and will only grow larger in the coming years.
But let's s think for a moment: Is printing really being completely replaced by shiny screens displaying colorful apps? Not entirely, what I see around me is that while a large part of former offset printing territory is now entirely digital, another part of the niche is being filled by the new “physical” printing generation, such as the Indigos, iGens and other digital commercial presses available today.
These machines are fairly different from one another in many ways and there still is no “digital printing standard”, but they all have something in common: Convenience. Year after year, generation after generation they are getting easier to use, even by non-trained workers.
I moved to Germany 18 months ago after working in Latin America for many years. While I had been coming to this country for trainings and seminars and I knew it relatively well (it is after all the land of my ancestors), working close to the German printers and having former offset machine operators as work colleagues opened my eyes. Just like the famous eureka moment, it struck me: German engineering is killing offset printing. Well, at least part of it, please allow me to explain why I think so in the next few paragraphs.
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General Introduction of printing industry in China
The printing quality in China has come up to the world standards due to large investments in the industry by governments and imported technology, mostly from Germany. Paper quality has also improved as at least 10 listed companies are supplying the top-end market. Imports for special types of paper are also growing by 60%. For ordinary books and magazines, even professionals find it difficult to tell the differences between of home-made and imported paper, unless chemical and physical test is conducted