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Choosing printing technology in today’s economy

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While everyone is painfully aware that many long-standing printing companies are no longer here, the economic roller coaster ride of the past two years has created a much savvier end user, according to David Hawkes, group product manager at Roland DGA Corp.. The key to longevity is evolution, and the ingredients of evolution are versatility and adaption. Print-for-pay entrepreneurs want to not only meet their customer requirements, but show the customer digital applications that they hadn’t yet considered. The successful technology for tomorrow must let the print-for-pay business evolve through versatility and adaptability, at a price people can afford.

“It is important to keep in mind that the technologies used to print fabrics can also be used in a myriad of other applications, such as floor tiles,” Hawkes says. “Make sure you have a good idea and comfort level with what you can do with your technology. Have samples ready and see what customers say.”

The key for end product manufacturers when considering printing technology is to “know thyself,” Hawkes adds. Ask yourself what applications you are targeting? What are the production time and costs involved? What is the volume and profit potential of those applications? Will you be able to sell these products to existing customers or will you need to approach new market segments? Where else can you use this technology?

“Sometimes it’s easy to lose perspective on the true economics of a decision when faced with the bright and shiny allure of new technology,” Hawkes says. “At the end of the day, if an end user can answer and quantify the questions above, it will be obvious which technology will make those things happen.”

Barb Ernster is a freelance writer based in Fridley, Minn.

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