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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Printing Companies: News from Abroad That’s Relevant at Home

PrintWeek India, TradeArabia—I’m finding it fascinating reading to see what is happening in commercial printing in other countries. Ironically, it’s the Internet that’s affording me this glimpse.

Here’s a quote from BBC News, from an article entitled “97 Percent of Middle East Companies Including in Oman, Dependent on Print for Business: Report,” from Muscat Daily, 4/3/13:

“…organizations in Europe see print part of a multichannel approach, while organizations in the Middle East region see print as the principal, main media in their approaches.”

And here’s another quote, this one from TradeArabia, Business News Information, 4/3/13, entitled “Print Still ‘Important’ for Most Mideast Firms”:

“…97 percent of organizations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) still consider professionally printed materials to be important to their business…. Furthermore, more than half of the organizations surveyed (54 percent) consider print to be more effective than any other type of media.” (first Middle East Insight Research Report, commissioned by Canon Middle East).

Why This Is Important

I’m a great believer in the “Global Village” concept. Digital communications, from the Internet to smartphones, have made the world much smaller, and countries and their economic health are inextricably intertwined. Therefore, it is useful in gauging the future of a particular industry, such as commercial printing, to study not only one’s own country but other countries as well.

What I can discern from my recent studies is the following:

    1. Custom printing is not dying. While some aspects of custom printing seem to be migrating to electronic media in the US, there is a healthy and even growing reliance on physical printing in other countries.


    1. If some pundits had foretold a migration from print to exclusively digital communications, the larger world view seems to suggest more of a coordination of print and the Internet into a multichannel marketing effort.


  1. Since we live in a global, connected world, it’s smart to study trends in commercial printing around the world, not just within the United States.

A View of Screen Printing from PrintWeek India

Here’s some more news from abroad. “Can Screen Printing See Into the Future” (PrintWeek India, 6/12/13) extols screen printing for its:

“…versatility, suppleness, wide range of applications, brightness and solidity of colors for outdoor applications, possibilities of special effects in graphic and textile… It also provides a possibility of combination printing with other imaging and printing processes like offset, digital, etc.”

The PrintWeek India article lists a number of objects we use daily that depend on custom screen printing technology, such as the speedometer and dashboard in your car, the t-shirts and helmets you wear, and (this shows the relative breadth of the technology) the screen-printed PC board in every piece of electronic gadgetry that you buy. Custom screen printing is ubiquitous.

But not only does screen printing have a place in industrial printing and garment/fabric printing. Screen printing can be applied to packaging and labels, particularly since it excels at adding the textured UV and embossed UV effects that distinguish physical printing (offset, digital, gravure) from the virtual communications of digital-only media. Custom screen printing is ideal for tactile “embellishments,” as the article notes.

Furthermore, more and more printers are acquiring automated screen printing equipment along with digital and/or offset capabilities in order to keep more of their work in-house rather than subcontracting it to other vendors. This lowers costs, speeds up production, and allows commercial printing vendors to remain relevant to their clients.

Why This Is Important

    1. Increasingly, printing technologies are being used in tandem. I’m reading more and more about hybrid presses that include both offset printing and flexography in the same press, or vendors who are printing jobs digitally or via offset lithography and then using screen printing for finishing effects.


    1. The best way to stand out in a market that loves iPads and Kindle Fires is to provide something these technologies cannot. Anything tactile requires physical custom printing.


  1. Even as newspapers and magazines shutter their operations, carton printing, flexible packaging, direct to garment printing, labels, and industrial printing (to name only a few areas) are expanding. Savvy printers and designers can ride this wave. Knowledge of, and access to, relevant technologies are essential.

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