What Does the Future of Printing Look Like?

Guest post from Annette Hazard

The world saw the printing industry evolve considerably over the last 20 years. Consumers have gone from running to an office store to make copies to printing everything from their tax forms to personal checks on home equipment. Handheld label machines, laser printers and even e-books have taken some of the wind out of the print industry. The future is picking up as technology gives it a boost with high-tech devices like 3-D printers and high-resolution digital print services. 

Commercial Digital Printing

Businesses are learning that nothing impresses quite as much as a visual marketing tool. This is one area that print services will continue to see grow. Brochures, business cards, mailers, table top displays and event invitation printing are still standard business supplies. Although it is possible to create these items and print them without using a commercial service, the quality suffers. It is also not that cost-effective when you consider the time commitment.


Photo Printing

Photo printing is already a mainstay for many retailers. As the technology improves, chances are self-service photo printing stations will continue to pop up. This allows consumers to insert a card from the digital cameras and order pictures, calendars, invitation printing and even gift items like mugs, T-shirts using these images.

This industry offers online service, as well. Upload images and order directly from a website. The prints come to your home in the mail. The advances in high-resolution will make this a more consumer friendly option in the years ahead and expand the possibilities.


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3-D Printing

This is the most promising growth opportunity for print companies. Technically, 3-D printing is not really a standard print service. These machines scan physical objects, create a digital model and then build a three-dimensional replication of that item. This technology is already used to make prototypes in several industries.

The growth potential for 3-D printing is huge. Science is looking for ways to manufacturer custom tools and even create replacement organs. Domestic use machines are already on the market for hobbyists. A model builder might use one to fashion a custom-made part of a miniature boat, for example.

Future projects involving 3-D printing include reconstructing models of extinct animals using fossils as the map. Criminologists are looking to reconstruct damaged evidence such as a smashed bullet.

Commercial printing may be down, but it is far from out of the picture. It is tough to predict what’s next for this industry now that digital is king. Technology is changing the way the world thinks and print services are changing to accommodate that thinking.

Annette Hazard is a freelance blogger that enjoys writing about technology.

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