Although digital presses are beginning to eke out a solid foothold among commercial printers, newspapers have yet to follow suit, although many publishers are seriously considering the printing technology.
That said, vendors including Agfa, HP, Kodak, Océ, Screen, and now TKS, have all invested in digital printing. And even if they don't own a digital press themselves, a growing number of newspaper publishers are using third-party providers to digitally print their products out of market or to expand their reach in other ways.
Thus far, the majority of publishers forging partnerships for out-of-market printing have been international titles, with the exception of USA Today, which this summer tapped European printer Rotomail to produce the daily on its Kodak Versamark VL4200. Through its agreement with Messaggerie Internazionali, an Italian distributor of foreign newspapers, Rotomail is digitally printing an international edition of the Gannett flagship for distribution to hotels and kiosks in major tourist towns and a number of airports, Kodak said.
Tech savvy pubs
Miller Newsprint Ltd., of Malta, meantime, is printing a handful of newspaper titles for distribution - also on a Kodak VL4200 - throughout the Maltese islands. The publications include The Financial Times, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Express, The Daily Mirror and The Daily and Sunday Telegraph.
Miller Distributors' CEO Malcolm G. Miller told News & Tech his firm also has plans to begin printing U.S., German, Italian, French and Dutch titles.
"Some publishers such as Financial Times are very new tech savvy," he said. "Generally, all British titles have embraced this new technology and see it as the future of printing in offshore locations."
Miller said the demand for out-of-market newspapers fluctuates in Malta, which gets approximately 1.2 million visitors each year, and that the largest demand is for U.K. and European titles.
"It's a win all around," Miller said. "Readers get their copies earlier - sometimes even earlier than they do at home - and earlier availability results in increased circulation and all in the distributor chain increase their business.
"We can supply newspapers around the clock to more than 1,000 outlets across the Maltese Islands."
The Versamark VL4200 runs at speeds of 410 feet per minute with a resolution of 600-by-360 dpi.
First in Spain
The first digital newspaper press in Spain was installed earlier this year, at contract printer Imcodavila in Avila. Imcodavila prints six daily newspapers, La Vanguardia, Publico, 20 Minutos, Valladolid, Diario de Salamanca and Diario de Avila, and in total, produces some 20 titles a month, averaging more than 400,000 copies daily on its Océ JetStream 2200 digital machine.
"The price of foreign newspapers in Spain is high and with the digital technology it is possible to have the newspaper at the same time it is published," said Luciano Monedero, managing director at Imcodavila.
Monedero said Imcodavila plans to open a second printing plant in Madrid next year, where it will install a JetStream 2800.
Niiu, an individualized paper based in Berlin that is set to debut Nov. 16, will also be printed on a JetStream 2200 (see related article, page 7).
Océ told News & Tech it's received patents for a device and method to produce and print personalized products, which encompasses technology aimed at printing individualized newspapers.
Reaching the Big Apple
To expand their reach in the United States, a number of international publishers have partnered with Newsworld and its New Jersey-based printing partner AlphaGraphics for the distribution of titles in New Jersey and New York. AlphaGraphics prints newspapers on a Screen Treupress Jet520.
Most recently, the London Evening Standard produced a special edition of the paper for distribution in Times Square. Newsworld also produces the Daily Mail. The printer distributes 500 copies of the paper six days a week to areas in New York.
Overseas, Newsworld partnered with Atlas Media in Dubai to set up a foundation supporting the production of U.K., European and U.S. titles in the Gulf Region. The papers will also be produced on a Screen digital press.
"There has always been a demand for international titles in the UAE, but the drawback was the lead time from import to newsstand delivery, which was always 10-12 hours too late," Amit Radia, CEO of Atlas Media told News & Tech earlier this year.
Finally, out-of-market printing vendor PressTerra is printing titles including the Los Angeles Times and Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of Germany on an Agfa Dotrix digital press through its partnership with a printer in Lisbon, Portugal.
IBD proves capability
Investor's Business Daily parent O'Neil Data Systems this spring ramped up an HP Inkjet Web Press at its facility in Los Angeles, and although the publisher demonstrated that the press is completely capable of producing the paper, IBD has no plans to do so.
"IBD is still just a proof of concept," ODS President Jim Lucanish told News & Tech in May. "We have no intention to print that on this press at this point."
O'Neil's reluctance notwithstanding, vendors don't seem shy about introducing new digital press models.
TKS this month will become the latest supplier to launch a digital press. Its JetLeader water-based inkjet press, which sports a maximum web width of 21.5 inches and can print up to 492 feet per minute at a resolution of 600-by-600 dots per inch, will make its debut at the JANPS newspaper production show in Tokyo, the firm said.
In a demo, TKS will print process color on one side of the web and black and white on the other side. But the press can also produce 4-color on both sides of the web if desired, according to Mike Shafer, national sales manager of TKS (USA).
"We have high hopes for this new product," he said.
On the prepress side, VIM Technologies, with its JT-P computer-to-plate system, is offering digital press users a processless method to image offset plates using small- to mid-size inkjet printers.