PrintTalk is a branch of the CIP4 specifications based around the business model of automating print procurement and vending, in order to increase timeliness, improve accuracy and reduce cost. Where JDF/XJDF automation describes the product to be printed and its manufacturing process within the printing plant, PrintTalk extends business process automation from the MIS (Management Information System) used by the printer to their customer, and if desired to the customer's procurement system. It also can automate the change-order process, subcontracting, and load-balancing across multiple printing locations.
This end-to-end PrintTalk supply chain automation currently supports four common business cases. The foundation is B2C (Business to Consumer). Incremental additions include B2B functionality to support accelerating information flow to and from a buyer-customer's procurement system, change-order management, and/or subcontracting:
- B2C – PrintTalk facilitates web-to-print catalog style ordering of printed products, as well as more complex RFQ (Request-for-Quote), followed by Quote, Order, Status Request, Invoicing and payment options. All without requiring duplicated data-entry of customer's requests either to, or from the printer's MIS.
- B2B – Building on B2C functionality, in high-volume printer/customer relationships there may be a desire to extend automation connectivity between the print provider's MIS and the print-buyer's purchasing and accounts-payable systems. PrintTalk provides a simple toolset to do so, simplifying the print-buyer's task of placing orders, viewing current status, and payment.
- Change Orders – Building on B2C functionality and best practices in the printing industry, PrintTalk supports generation of change orders, with re-quote and acceptance, whether originated by the print provider, or their customer.
- Subcontracting – Building on B2C functionality, PrintTalk supports outsourcing of portions or all of manufacturing. Transparent status reporting can continue, while obscuring the identity of the subcontractor from the end-customer if desired.
PrintTalk has often been described as a business process "wrapper" around the JDF contents of a message.
The purpose of PrintTalk is to enhance cooperation, integration and communication, and to do so while reducing service costs, thereby accelerating and potentially simplifying the process of buying printed materials. PrintTalk was originally developed as an open standard by a broad consortium of companies producing management information systems, e-commerce procurement systems, and printing equipment in order to find a common solution to development requests that all were facing from their customers. Initially developed and released under guidance from NPES (now renamed APTech or the Association of Print Technologies) in their role as the U.S. representative for ANSI and ISO TC130 printing standards, further development and control of PrintTalk was passed to CIP4 in 2005, recognizing the need for continued tight integration with JDF & XJDF development.