Is Monochrome Printing Dead?
To answer this affirmatively would be like saying the world could only be seen in color. Think of photographer Ansel Adams, who was able to express a wide range of bold, expressive tones in his classic black-and-white American landscapes and scenic photographs. We believe that the simplicity and functional purpose of monochrome printing will always remain a portion of the marketplace, just as there will always be a place for the timeless beauty of classic black–and-white imagery in our wide world of color.
Input from industry expert Jim Hamilton formerly of InfoTrends confirms the enduring status of monochromatic demand. In a recent blog post, “A New Development on the Cut-Sheet Monochrome Digital Printing Market”, he estimates that “monochrome documents produced in cut-sheet production environments will account for nearly 360 billion A4/letter page images in 2017 in the US and Western Europe.” That accounts for “about 63% of all cut-sheet production digital print volume,” which certainly implies a sustainable trend (InfoTrends InfoBlog, August 31, 2017).
In a color-driven world, why choose black–and-white?
In my opinion there are a number of factors that can influence a print service provider’s decision to print black-and-white including application, productivity and cost. Simply put: not all applications require color. Also, B&W printers can offer greater productivity with faster engine speed and greater volume of the printed job. Additionally, research from various sources within our industry indicates that black-and-white pages will continue to be in demand with high-volume printed pages in many key applications including books, user manuals, transactional printing, direct mail or reports and forms. For example, in the publishing industry, book printing and catalog printing are common and providers in this segment still use cut-sheet black-and-white or roll-to-sheet fed devices for the book blocks or the inside pages, and reserve color technology for the covers. In a price-sensitive market, where cost is certainly a factor, printing the inside pages in black-and-white helps keep the overall cost down.
Key features and requirements will vary from each individual environment, industry or vertical market. For instance, a commercial printer requires machines supporting high monthly print volumes, greater sheet input, and high-capacity stacking if using offline finishing. A central reproduction department may require high-speed scanning and will want to reduce overall cost by bringing advanced finishing in-house to spare the expense of outsourcing. Education environments will want ease of use and scanning and may not require advanced finishing because their needs are stapling, saddle-stitch booklets and hole punching. They may also require workflow automation applications such as job submission software to automate daily jobs. The Legal vertical may rely heavily on a solution that can quickly print documents and prepare them for litigation purposes.
Konica Minolta’s Vision for Monochrome Printing
Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. parent company Konica Minolta, Inc., seeing this ongoing need, is fully committed to cut-sheet monochrome digital printing and continues to back the financial commitment needed to provide new and innovative black-and-white production print systems for its customers that combine speed, versatility, durability and reliability. Reflecting this commitment to growth, Konica Minolta has respectably shifted up to the #3 position for the 2016-2017 calendar year (behind category leaders Xerox and Canon) with 17.8 percent share of the monochrome print market and a 14.0 percent unit growth.
The Konica Minolta Business Solutions AccurioPress 6136 Series
Built to perform in high-volume environments, the AccurioPress 6136 series consists of three models: 6136, 6136P and 6120. We’re most excited about its differentiating features, including:
- 136ppm letter print speed
- Supports standard media weights from 40 to 350gsm
- 1,200 x 1,200 dpi print resolution
- Real-time density and front-to-back registration control with IQ-501 Intelligent Quality Optimizer
- Enhanced system compatibility with workflow solution-based platforms
As we have moved forward with this product launch, we remain confident that the innovations built within have the potential to simplify your day-to-day operations, provide advanced print management and expand production printing for all of your black-and-white printing needs.
In short, we believe monochrome printing is very much alive.