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The digital printing industry goes green

Graphics | September 1, 2008 | By:

A news story is said to have “legs” if it is interesting and compelling enough that people continue to care about it and want to hear more about it. In other words, it travels. The issue of green/sustainability/care for the planet, as it regards digital printing, continues to be a story that has legs, and the evidence is everywhere.

  • Customers are asking for green products.
  • Digital print shops offering signage-related products continue to re-brand themselves as green shops.
  • Digital print shops offering textiles to the interiors market are shifting focus from unique products to green products.
  • More and more suppliers are offering products with green specs.
  • Organizations are offering programs that verify that a print shop is a green and sustainable business—for example, Specialty Graphics Imaging Association (SGIA)’s Sustainable Green Printing (SGP) Partnership (
  • Conferences are being developed around the theme of green. For example, [TC]2 and American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) have joined together to present a digital textile program around the issue of green, Innovative Textile Printing: Green & Global Symposium (

These are things that are visible. Less visible are the advantages that green can bring to the digital printing industry. Digital printing in and of itself is green, but we think that the digital printing community hasn’t quite realized that yet. It is, in fact, a short run, on-demand printing technology that allows only what is necessary to be printed.

Lynn Krinsky says that twenty years ago she had a customer who told her, “I can get five or six posters and can sell them and then have more printed when I need them! I have stacks of posters in my basement where I had to get 5,000 printed and only sold one.”

“Even back then the concept was green: printing small amounts on demand,” Lynn Krinsky says. “Who knew?”

Will companies spend time and money becoming green and then find that the whole green movement has passed? Unlikely. While today green may be a differentiator, in the future it will be a cost of doing business. Those of us in the digital printing world should let these “legs” carry us into new areas, such as competing with analog print technologies in terms of green.

Digital printing is green, and green is not a fad that will go away soon. We need to run with it.

Lynn Krinsky owns Stella Color (, a digital print shop in Seattle, Wash., and Patti Williams is with I.T. Strategies (, Hanover, Mass., a market research and consulting company focusing on digital printing. She is a presenter at the “Fabric Graphics—Your Environmental Edge” symposium at IFAI Expo 2008.

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