We sat down with Kodak’s President of Print Systems Division, Brad Kruchten, to discuss the Print Industry’s evolution, impact on society, and future.
Is there a fear of print in organizations? Meaning either a stigma behind print or the general perception that it’s an unnecessary expense?
I think print has gotten a bad rap. One of the things we need to do as an industry is to continue to promote the capabilities and value of print. There’s benefit in print that you don’t get from a digital screen experience.
An example of print’s stigmatization is when you see the bottom of an email stating ‘If you care about the environment, don’t print this.’ We know that in many instances print is more sustainable than digital, which people have a hard time understanding. The overall cost from an energy standpoint to maintain digital is substantial versus having that printed and later recalled.
Our view is that print is clearly recyclable, from the paper with toner on it to even the press plates. Additionally, Kodak continues to drive down the overall energy usage to produce print.
How does print have a positive impact on society?
One of the things we’re really excited about is the premise of Kodak’s initiative, Print For Good. Through print, we can make the world a better place. We’re pushing for increased literacy. A large percentage of adults in the world can’t read. The only way they’re going to be able to read is if they have access to printed materials. You can’t learn how to read purely through digital format like you can through physical books. So, we’re working with a variety of different printers to ensure we’re providing additional books for those at need and at risk.
We recently did this in Rochester, NY, where Kodak’s headquarters are located. There’s a staggering difference between how many books children have in the suburbs versus within the inner city. In middle-class communities around the world, there is an estimated 15 books per child. In underdeveloped or impoverished areas, there is approximately 1 book per every 300 children. It’s no wonder we have a literacy problem in the inner cities.
We worked with another partner in Texas producing books for an orphanage in Honduras. We believe not just for Kodak, but for the print industry as a whole, that it’s important to take care of our own and being able to leverage what we do in order to make the world a better place.
What are some of the overall benefits of print as a medium?
Some of the benefits we’re seeing across the board are its effectiveness with memory recall compared to digital mediums, its variety of applications, and how it counters the fatigue of viewing it digitally on screens. For example, according to a great article from Wired Magazine, people retain information better when reading from a hard-copy print vs. e-reading.
Do you view the adoption of digital printing as a stepping stone from offset printing?
No. I really believe that in many cases it’s complementary. I am a believer in the “and world”.
Typically, when you find a new technology that enters the marketplace, people want to pigeonhole it into a replacement market, when, in fact, it is a complementary market and the two can build on one another and grow faster when viewed as complementary technologies, versus viewing it as a replacement type of technology.
Digital [printing] is great- it helps when you want to produce one of something. The whole personalization movement that is happening; digital is an outstanding complement to that. From an overall timing standpoint, if you need something in 20 minutes, there’s nothing better than digital to help you achieve that. Some of the new features that can be added to digital, such as dimensional and spot capabilities complement it as well.
At the same time, I don’t see a large amount running on offset going to digital presses. It will continue to grow in digital because you are able to do so many things with it. The enablement and new capabilities that digital brings will allow you to add to what you’re printing as opposed to stealing from offset.
How do you think organizations can leverage print to realize a greater ROI on the creation of their content, such as a Learning & Development department creating training content?
In the educational arena, we can share the data around print’s positive effects on the recall of information. This’ll help to get people to understand that time, efficiency and this ability to recall is important in calculating the effectiveness of this training material.
As a trainer, your goal is for people to walk out and have a return on the training. Having that training produced in print as opposed to digitally will give them a much higher probability of getting that return as opposed to not having that training printed. Secondly, people in a training session retain a limited amount of information. The ability to add notes, dog-ear, and highlight the information after the training are some of the many benefits print adds to learning and development.
How do you think the print industry can attract more millennials as prospective candidates?
Millennials want to see a vision as well as understand how they can contribute to making the world a better place. They care deeply about the socio piece, as well as the ecological and sustainability elements. The career development aspect is important as well. We need to prevent millennials feeling as though print is a place where ‘I can stay for the next two years, but ultimately, it’s a dead end.’
There’s excitement in taking it beyond just the graphic side, a lot of which I recently outlined in the Printing Impressions Magazine piece, Where is Print Going? We really believe in this industry going beyond solely the graphics piece, meaning that there’s the development of circuit boards, solar panels, antennas, capacitors through the printing process. We see that there’s going to be an expansion around how that’s done as well as the usage of conductive inks.
Print’s positive impact on society is also incredibly impactful in attracting a new generation to the industry. We need to try to give millennials an understanding of where we’re taking print, as well as the opportunities and vision for what the future holds for this industry.
Brad Kruchten is the president, Print Systems Division, Kodak, which serves graphic arts and commercial print customers with printing plates, computer to plate imaging solutions, electrophotographic printing solutions, OEM toner, and all equipment services.