To answer this affirmatively would be like saying the world could only be seen in color. Think of photographer Ansel Adams, who was able to express a wide range of bold, expressive tones in his classic black-and-white American landscapes and scenic photographs. We believe that the simplicity and functional purpose of monochrome printing will always remain a portion of the marketplace, just as there will always be a place for the timeless beauty of classic black–and-white imagery in our wide world of color.
Input from industry expert Jim Hamilton formerly of InfoTrends confirms the enduring status of monochromatic demand. In a recent blog post, “A New Development on the Cut-Sheet Monochrome Digital Printing Market”, he estimates that “monochrome documents produced in cut-sheet production environments will account for nearly 360 billion A4/letter page images in 2017 in the US and Western Europe.” That accounts for “about 63% of all cut-sheet production digital print volume,” which certainly implies a sustainable trend (InfoTrends InfoBlog, August 31, 2017).
In a color-driven world, why choose black–and-white?
In my opinion there are a number of factors that can influence a print service provider’s decision to print black-and-white including application, productivity and cost. Simply put: not all applications require color. Also, B&W printers can offer greater productivity with faster engine speed and greater volume of the printed job. Additionally, research from various sources within our industry indicates that black-and-white pages will continue to be in demand with high-volume printed pages in many key applications including books, user manuals, transactional printing, direct mail or reports and forms. For example, in the publishing industry, book printing and catalog printing are common and providers in this segment still use cut-sheet black-and-white or roll-to-sheet fed devices for the book blocks or the inside pages, and reserve color technology for the covers. In a price-sensitive market, where cost is certainly a factor, printing the inside pages in black-and-white helps keep the overall cost down.