Donald Allred

Newspapers & Technology continues its 4 Questions series aimed at digital press vendors. This month, Donald Allred, director of business development for inkjet printing solutions with Kodak's Graphic Communications Group, talks about his company's offerings and where they fit into the newspaper market.

How is Kodak approaching newspapers and how do you see Kodak fitting into this industry?

Kodak has been a part of the success of the newspaper industry for more than 100 years. Our product portfolio includes CTP devices, workflow products, digital plates and chemistry. In addition, Kodak has been helping customers reach success using our wide range of variable digital printing systems for direct mail and including promotional content with transactional statements. With these combined attributes, Kodak is a natural and logical partner to help newspapers take advantage of digital printing.

Kodak is the only partner to provide a broad selection of digital printing equipment. We provide addressing systems to enable proper delivery through the mail, part page systems that enable on-press digital printing without slowing down the presses, and stand-alone complete digital newspaper press systems.

According to Kodak, what are some of the benefits of drop-on-demand vs. continuous inkjet technology for newspapers?

Kodak believes that both technologies have a role to play in digital newspaper printing. In fact, Kodak employs both technologies in products designed for the newspaper printing industry. We use the inherent capability of high print speed associated with continuous inkjet to provide products that can provide variable digital printing right on the newspaper press - at newspaper press speeds. CIJ is the basis of the Kodak Versamark VX printing system, offering very high-speed digital newspaper printing, while drop-on-demand technology powers the Kodak Versamark VL printing system, which achieves a slightly slower speed, but enhanced image quality. Both products offer low cost of operation, and highly efficient operation.

What trends do you see in digital printing for newspapers as far as news products, niche products, etc? What new technologies/features do you see emerging in digital presses that could potentially benefit newspapers?

A general drive to become more relevant is necessary for newspapers to maintain their readership during this age of information on demand. One area of success has been shorter run, targeted community newspapers. General news and advertisements can be combined with content provided through Web portals by members of communities.

Most U.S.-based newspapers have a tremendously powerful asset - their customer list and their home-delivery system. These two capabilities can be combined to provide a cost-effective alternative to direct mail. Short run inserts containing advertisements or stories, targeted to general demographical information of specific neighborhoods or streets, can be combined with the morning delivery.

A key trend of digital printing is the combination of increasing quality and lowering the cost of printing. The image quality of the Kodak Versamark VL2000 printing system meets or exceeds requirements for any newspaper printing job. The focus on productivity and value combine to reduce operating costs, making digital production of short-run newspapers feasible for many applications. These trends will continue in the future as the company brings its Kodak Stream Inkjet technology into the newspaper production market, enabling an even broader range of digital applications.

The newspaper industry has been talking for many years about the potential benefits of digital printing. Is the technology really ready to deliver these benefits?

Kodak's current offerings provide reliability and cost effectiveness, performance metrics that support the technical fit to the application. Software workflow systems are the critical enabler for the transition to digital printing. Remote digital printing can be done easily today with PDF workflows and high-speed Kodak front ends. Other applications may require software workflow elements such as Web portal-based community news with automated print set up, automated gaming and demographic advertising.