Digital technologies are key to the future of the printing industry

Quad Europe Summarizes Drupa 2024 

Participating in this year’s Drupa fair is much more than just an opportunity to discover the latest products and services. It is also a unique chance to immerse ourselves in the latest market trends and understand the rapidly evolving needs of our industry. 

The digital printing revolution 

The printing industry is undergoing a significant transformation driven by the shift from traditional analog methods to advanced digital printing technologies. 

“Digital printing is undoubtedly revolutionizing the industry, offering unparalleled flexibility and the ability to personalize,” said Dariusz Tomczak, Vice President of Sales at Quad Europe. “This was particularly noticeable among the exhibitors of machines and devices dedicated to this printing segment. We observe a clear trend towards reducing print runs, which is a response to the growing demand for more individualized products. Companies are increasingly turning towards marketing strategies that focus on direct and personalized customer outreach. Digital printing allows for the delivery of high-quality products in a short time, which becomes a key factor of competitiveness in today’s dynamic business environment.” 

Discussions about the economic equilibrium points between traditional and digital printing have evolved into more advanced conversations about how digital printing can transform the market. It’s not only seen as an economical solution for short runs and quick order fulfillment but also offers unmatched flexibility and personalization. 

The popularity of digital printing continues to grow, and equipment suppliers are responding accordingly by introducing new, technologically advanced products to the market. The trend of integrating multiple elements of the production chain is becoming increasingly evident. Production process data, supported by modern technologies, create a cohesive and efficient system that significantly enhances the efficiency and quality of final products. 

Automation of processes and increased efficiency 

Modern tools for efficient planning, job quoting, and post-production data analysis are key to optimizing production. These tools enable not only better resource management but also significantly improve decision-making and production planning. 

Automation is becoming increasingly important for printing companies worldwide. This process is gradual, starting from no automation, through automated prepress processes, to automated workflows during and after printing, and finally to full workflow integration (JDF or similar). Globally, 54% of printing companies have automated their prepress processes, 35% have automated their workflows during and after printing, and 13% have achieved full workflow integration.1 

The added value now lies not only in the machine itself but primarily in its software. Intelligent production management systems that utilize artificial intelligence (AI) allow for smoother and more efficient management of the entire production process. AI supports data analysis and interpretation, which in turn enables faster responses to changing market needs and optimization of individual production stages. 

“The printing industry is moving towards greater automation and intelligent solutions. The integration of advanced technologies such as AI with production processes, along with an increasing emphasis on software supporting the machines, are key trends that will shape the future of production in our sector. We clearly see that collaboration between technology suppliers and manufacturers is becoming the foundation of modern, efficient production not only in printing but also in POS and beyond,” commented Przemysław Raszeja, Digital Production Manager at Quad POS. 

According to the Drupa Report, printers place significantly more emphasis on faster, more efficient conventional printing and/or finishing equipment compared to suppliers, with 49% of printers prioritizing this aspect compared to only 28% of suppliers. Similarly, comprehensive automation is a priority for 38% of printers, whereas only 22% of suppliers consider it as important.1 

Commitment to a green future 

We are observing a clear trend where more and more print shops worldwide are implementing sustainability policies with specific goals and tasks. For many companies, this is becoming not only an obligation but also a strategic choice in response to growing customer expectations and regulatory requirements. Minimizing environmental impact is now a key priority, which not only increases operational efficiency but also helps build a positive brand image. Companies that successfully integrate sustainability into their business strategies gain a competitive advantage and build lasting relationships with customers. 

At the Drupa Trade Fair, many eco-friendly solutions were also presented, clearly indicating the growing importance of sustainability in the printing industry. These solutions not only contribute to environmental protection but also enhance the operational efficiency of companies and build a positive brand image. More and more print shops are adopting sustainability policies, demonstrating their responsibility towards future generations and their desire to meet the growing expectations of customers and regulatory requirements. 

The Drupa Trade Fair clearly showed that the industry has great potential for the future, even in the face of many challenges. This year’s edition demonstrated that the industry is not only ready for the future but is also dynamically developing, adapting to new challenges and leveraging the potential of modern technologies. 

1Drupa Global Trends report 2023

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