The 5,000 firms that compose the country’s printing and graphic arts industry are now fighting for their lives as the publishing field migrates to Web-based media. “Traditional printing has tremendously suffered from the digital age, mainly because information is much more effectively managed in digital formats,” said Christopher Buzon of Buzon Print Haus.
“Our company used to benefit largely from [printing] business and transactional forms. [Now] people in most big companies are working more with their laptops and less with their pens,” he said.
Printing presses that could afford it have already traded in their computer-to-plate technology for new equipment like print-on-demand (POD) machines, whose speed allows them the luxury to start production only after they receive a written order for purchase. POD, which has a quick, one-day turnaround time, can also provide prints for a fixed cost, regardless of the size of the order.
What remains of the old, bulky presses also has to compete with the multifunction printers that have become cheap and compact enough to sit on an average office desk. To maintain their relevance, Mr. Buzon suggests that printers must focus on offering services that current consumer gadgets aren’t clever enough to do yet.
He cites, for instance, a move further down the assembly line. “No matter how much the digital technology progresses, goods would still need to be packaged physically,” he explained. And then there’s novelty printing, the low-on-volume, high-on-customization firms that specialize in small-batch orders like invitations, business cards and quick digital photo prints.
Buzon Print Haus already accepts print jobs that require offset machinery like books, leaflets, calendars, posters, business cards, envelopes and paper bags. The owner adds, however, that with a bigger number of contract bidders vying for a shrinking clientele, players should not underestimate the power of low price tags.
The industry still has an ace up its sleeve: despite the decline of the country’s manufacturing sector, printing is one production process that is still difficult to outsource. “Printing is not yet a global industry. Local printers will always be the best option from a customer’s perspective,” Mr. Buzon said.- Hannah M. Muralla
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