This study is designed to identify constraints and potential solutions for improved performance and quality of digitally printed papers. The targeted market segment is high-end digital production in the U.S. In the first phase a survey of print providers has been conducted, the sample drawn from the network of printing companies currently engaged with Printing Industry Center (CIAS) research activities. The second phase will be to follow up observations from the survey with a case study approach, working with both print providers and with digital press manufacturers. In order to understand the characteristics of this digital printing market segment, a demographic study of the respondent group was conducted as part of the survey. This was followed by an exploration of the considerations and paper characteristics that are involved in the paper grade selection decision. The role that paper characteristics and press requirements play in production efficiency and document quality was investigated. The change in paper costs to printers over the last few years was also explored.Specific research objectives included: identifying the paper grades commonly used for the market segment of production digital printing, identifying the number of brands used and the nature of printing companies’ relationships to suppliers, determining the factors that affect brand and purchase decisions, discovering the relative importance of different paper properties and characteristics, assessing the deficiencies in currently-available paper grades, and determining what improvements are required by digital printers, and what limitations are currently imposed by press design. The leading digital paper grades used in digital printing production were found to be coated gloss, premium uncoated, uncoated calendered, coated matte, uncoated uncalendered, and premium bond. The median number of paper brands used by this sample is five, with a wide range indicating varied practices. When making the paper purchase decision, almost half the time print providers and print purchasers collaborate on the selection of paper grades. Leading factors involved in the paper purchase decision were identified as runnability and print quality, followed in importance by availability of grade, appearance properties, price, multipurpose functionality across different technologies, and product range. The leading paper characteristics considered when making a purchase decision were found to be, in order of importance, toner/ink adhesion, accurate sheet dimensions, dimensional stability, and moisture level. Performance- and runnability-related factors were found to be more important than appearance-related factors in the purchase decision. Evans & LeMa i re (PICRM-2005-06) Overall, the price of papers charged by manufacturers to print producers seems not to be a leading factor in making the paper selection decision. Price was not a key driver in selecting brand or grade type, even though most printers have experienced paper cost increases in the last few years.The area of improvement that printers want to see most is an extended product range, with more sizes, finishes, and basis weights available for their digital presses. The presses currently owned impose paper choice limitations on size, basis weight, thickness, and surface treatment requirements.In general, it appears that there is room for product development to meet the developing potential for production digital printing applications. The survey data will be used to construct a case-study research project to further explore the observations and inferences.

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