The printing industry is shifting towards inkjet printing because it offers more flexibility to meet the unique printing needs of its customers. This trend suggests that more companies should evaluate the benefits of insourcing inkjet printing.
Digital printing is easier than analog printing. And the cost of entry is much lower.
Conventional printing with flexographic printing and offset printing cannot offer any savings for shorter runs due to the significant fixed costs for prepress work and materials.
With the advanced capabilities of today’s inkjet printing systems, businesses can now consider printing documents, cardboard, and packaging in-house.
Reducing the cost per printed item is the first calculation to evaluate the benefits of in-sourced printing. However, the benefits go beyond the cost per piece. Here are other factors to consider:
The Benefits of Insourcing Inkjet Printing
- Reduced costs per piece for shorter runs
- More control and control of production times
- Better inventory management
- Recover valuable storage space
- Faster prototyping
- More agility, more flexibility
- Manage quality and reputation
- user friendliness
Evaluation of the costs and benefits of insourcing
Businesses can achieve significant financial benefits and reduce their risks by printing documents, labels, corrugated packaging and POS materials in-house.
In-house inkjet printing reduces the cost per item
Of the three types of inkjet technology, thermal inkjet (TIJ) offers the lowest entry and operating costs. Piezo drop-on-demand is the second printing technology to consider. Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) systems require significant maintenance, more operator training, and increased downtime.
Compare costs per piece
- First, calculate the unit cost for what you are paying your print provider. Divide your annual printing costs by the number of parts produced.
- Research the cost of consumables (ink). Calculating the cost of consumables is straightforward for printing with TIJ technology. Cartridge prices vary depending on the type of ink. With low maintenance, TIJ printer costs are focused on the ink cartridge. The TIJ printhead is part of the ink cartridge.
- Estimate the number of parts that can be made from each cartridge. Output also depends on the piece’s ink coverage. Kao Collins can help you with cartridge pricing and potential spend.
- Divide the cost of the cartridge by the estimated number of parts produced. The cost can be negligible. Factor a multiple of 10, 100 or 1000 for a number that is easier to work with.
- Compare the annualized cost per item for contract printing to your estimated insourcing cost.
Consider inkjet systems that can be configured with bulk ink delivery systems. This further reduces the cost per print. The cost of inks used for digital printing varies.
For example, Kao Collins makes inks for many printhead technologies. Printer technology brand inks cost more. Kao Collins works closely with these brands to develop inks that deliver high quality results. Color matching can be used to create inks that meet a company’s branding standards.
Other benefits of in-sourced printing
In addition to reducing printing costs, moving inkjet printing internally has other benefits that enable cost savings.
Control of the production schedule
With internal digital printing, the manufacturer can better control production output and lead times. Disruptions in the supply chain also have less of a business impact with insourcing. The global disruption of businesses and economies from the coronavirus pandemic shows how businesses have had to adapt to do more or less business.
Better inventory management
With the short-term capabilities of digital printing, businesses no longer need to keep large quantities of preprinted boxes or labels in stock and risk these materials becoming out of date due to rapidly changing consumer demand. Outdated packaging materials are wasting money.
Restore storage space and use it again
Providing valuable space for a large inventory of preprinted materials comes with opportunity costs. Digital printing systems for label printing and cardboard printing have a much smaller footprint. Companies can use the additional storage space for other functions, consumables or products.
Companies with in-house design teams can make test prints on actual packaging or labels without waiting for a vendor to prototype. For POS displays, digital printing is inexpensive because it offers more flexibility in testing and producing different signage or displays.
More agile and flexible
In-house inkjet printing requires less lead time than contract printing. Companies can quickly create packaging or POS displays that are tailored to a unique audience.
In-house printing supports agile marketing teams and offers the flexibility to rotate campaigns and promotions.
Manage quality and reputation
Internal printing offers stricter quality control. When it comes to barcodes and expiration dates, a misprint can disrupt tracking and coding – or worse, damage the brand’s reputation due to poor quality or incorrect information.
The environmental benefits of in-house printing are often overlooked. Many of the advantages listed already contribute to more sustainable production. Insourced Printing reduces the transport of raw materials by half, as there is no need to send materials to the print provider and, after completion, to the customer. That also saves energy. Just-in-time printing reduces waste due to better inventory control.
Unlike flexographic and offset printing, most of us are familiar with inkjet printers as they are widely used in offices and homes. Industrial versions of inkjet printing systems aren’t all that different. The operation of digital systems does not require extensive knowledge and training.
Digital creates a better value proposition
Before digital printing, companies would never consider printing their own labels, documents, or corrugated cardboard due to the cost and difficulty of operating traditional printing systems.
In addition to the cost of capital, prepress equipment and presses require highly skilled operators. The idea didn’t offer a significant ROI.
Thanks to recent innovations in digital printing, more companies are now taking a second look at outsourcing inkjet printing.
The Walgreens pharmacy chain was ahead of the curve in insourcing digital document printing. In the early 2000s, they started producing thousands of pages a month just for employee and customer documentation. The company originally used offset printing to meet its documentation needs. Now the company only uses digital printing equipment.
Companies considering insourcing typically opt for low hanging fruit – mostly documents and packaging labels. Now corrugated boxes and cardboard POS materials can be printed in-house.
Other in-house printing costs
Digital printing systems level the playing field for companies looking to outsource printing.
In addition to consumables, consider the following when determining whether to print internally.
Printer equipment costs
Equipment costs vary widely depending on your requirements. Simple printers for basic branding or coding can cost a few thousand dollars. Four color systems for making branded paperboard packaging can cost $ 100,000 or more. A mini label printer, sometimes called a “desktop printer”, can be purchased for about $ 3,000 to $ 10,000.
Industrial inkjet printing technologies to consider
The two printer technologies to consider are Thermal Inkjet (TIJ) and Piezo. Big brands sell printers for industrial inkjet printing. In addition, OEMs integrate TIJ and Piezo technology in printers for special printing solutions. TIJ systems cost less. Carefully evaluate the specifications of each system to determine if their different features and benefits are required to meet your printing needs.
Support equipment for printing
Conveyor systems may be required to move materials to be printed. Simple conveyor belts five feet long can cost anywhere from $ 1,000 to $ 2,000. The latitude, longitude and steering functions take cost into account. You can develop an approximate per foot price for a conveyor belt to help determine the ROI for in-house printing as you plan your budget.
The cost of different inks used for digital printing can vary widely. For example, Kao Collins makes ink for many printhead technologies. Printer technology brand inks cost more. Kao Collins works closely with the brands to develop inks that deliver high quality results. Color matching can be used to create inks that meet a company’s branding standards.
This blog originally appeared on Kao Collins’ blog “The Ink Tank”.