Canon imagePROGRAF - A Sign of the times

Just as the 1960s and 70s saw a large number of printing start-ups worldwide, so the same is happening at the start of the 21st century. This time, the change is driven by the introduction of digital-only print services by a new generation of entrepreneurs. Just as the internet is enabling smaller companies to take on established brands, so digital is allowing the copy shop and sign printer to take a slice of the pie from larger operators. Some are new services or spin-offs from existing businesses; some are evolved from copy, photo and sign shops.

While large and medium sized print shops consolidate or even retrench their operations, many thousands of smaller print shops are springing up in business, which bodes well for the future of our industry.

Canon has invested heavily in this market and grown rapidly in the LFP market in the last five years, launching 11 new Canon imagePROGRAF devices alone in 2007 and resulting in an impressive 40 per cent growth in LFP sales. As a company we are committed to providing market-leading LFP technologies across a broad range of markets, offering our customers superior quality combined with reliable and cost effective technologies. The Canon imagePROGRAF range are the only large format ink-jet printers that have an "edge-to-edge" printing capability, reducing paper waste and finishing costs. The sophisticated calibration feature also enables a whole suit of printers to produce matching print quality for consistent results.

The key finding from Canon’s recently commissioned Insight Report was that digital will become the dominant technology by 2020. Analogue will still have a role to play but digital technologies will continue to help printers diversify into new markets by exploiting a range of new applications, which will ultimately open up new revenue streams. For sign printers, this means a shift away from traditional litho and screen printing towards the new breed of digital ink-jet printers.

Old techniques such as screen makers, press assistants and scanner operators are being replaced by designers, pre-flight technicians, image specialists, IT and networking specialists, digital printing technicians, database analysts and marketing experts. Selling digital also requires a whole new breed of salespeople who understand how to keep presses fed with a constant supply of short-run jobs, and managers who can factor in the costs of providing value-added services.

Training is crucial for success and we provide all the assistance printers need through Canon’s Essential Business Builder Programme. What is alarming in the Insight Report findings is that three-quarters of printers believe the skill sets of potential employees are inadequate to meet their company’s needs, yet only 20.8 per cent reported they will be increasing their training budgets in the near future. Training is crucial if printers are to maximise the return on investment in new digital print technologies.

To see a full copy of the Insight Report, go to and more information on Canon's range of printers is at

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