Digital color was introduced in the marketplace almost a decade ago. Both Indigo and Xeikon introduced key new products, and early projections were that these technologies would take off. Initially, as with a number of new technologies, there were technical issues. Presses were unreliable; ink and toner didn’t stick to the paper; and the cost of consumables was too high to generate any substantial application transfer from offset technology. Today, Indigo has been taken over by HP. Xeikon faced bankruptcy and was acquired by Punch Technologies. And we are seeing the emergence of new suppliers for production color: Xerox with the iGen3, and NexPress. Ink and toner are sticking to the paper. The quality of the output is substantially better. Consumables costs are down and reliability has improved dramatically. There are a number of application software solutions to support the implementation of one-to-one marketing applications. The key questions everyone is asking are: • Where is the demand for short-run digital color and variable data? • Is there really a market? • What will it take to accelerate application growth and drive volume to these digital color presses? The premise for this report is that much can be learned about the future from lessons of the past. The research efforts started by digging into the archives and pulling out press releases from vendors on early market successes between 1994 and 1999. The analysis was designed to see if these early adopters returned to their traditional offset printing business models, if they ultimately took such a financial hit that they had to shut their doors, or if they stayed the course and established a successful digital color business. Understanding what print providers who are leveraging digital color today did to differentiate themselves is critical to the next wave of digital color technologies. Searching the old press clippings, 149 early adopters were identified. Of these, 44 firms (23%) refused to complete the survey or were unable to find a time convenient for the interview. 66 firms (44%) completed the survey. 49 firms were either out of business or had been acquired by another firm.

Publication Date


Document Type

Full-Length Book


A Research Monograph of the Printing Industry Center (CIAS) at RIT

Department, Program, or Center

Printing Industry Center (CIAS)


RIT – Main Campus