The printing industry is in a state of flux that can no longer be denied. Even as venerable an institution as the New York Times recently conceded defeat to the digital age, with Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. stating at a news conference that “we will stop printing the New York Times sometime in the future, date TBD.” While the troubles of a traditional print newspaper in the twenty-first century should come as a surprise to no one, it’s still significant that the Times has definitively stated that the end is in sight. So what does the future hold for the printing industry? While some naysayers maintain that “print is dead,” the sheer number of people who prefer books to electronic reading devices and the continued effectiveness of marketing via print materials indicates that print isn’t dying – it’s simply changing.
Green Printing Practices Hit the Mainstream
One of the biggest changes to hit the commercial printing industry is the integration of green, or environmentally friendly, printing practices. Recycled paper and organic inks have been available for a while now, but they often lacked the quality and affordability that many consumers have come to expect. Now, however, recycled paper can be just as smooth and pristine as virgin paper, and soy-based inks offer the same vibrancy and richness as their petroleum-based counterparts, without the high levels of harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Companies like PrintRunner are also adopting greener standards within their own companies by mandating company-wide recycling, offering online-only proof options to reduce paper usage and making sure customers understand their choices when it comes to earth-friendly printing.
3D Printing Could Become Commonplace
Another exciting development that could completely revolutionize printing itself is the advent of 3D printing technology. These high-tech printers can actually print parts and assemblies in a variety of different materials, which can then be put together by hand. Essentially, this means that you can now print out a tool, such as a wrench – not just a picture of a wrench, but an actual wrench – assemble it, and use it. Of course, it may be a few more years before 3D printers become so commonplace that they find their way into homes and offices, but the technology exists and it’s just a matter of time before these printers are everywhere.
These are just a few of the exciting developments in the printing industry, proving that there is still a great deal of potential inherent in the act of putting ink to paper.