So what were your impressions from InPrint?
Well being involved at the start of the concept I have seen the show develop into something that is representative of the industrial print sector, which has been enjoyable and to some extent rewarding too. After two shows I think that InPrint is starting to play a role in industrial print being seen as a cohesive segment. It is now more defined and refined event and perhaps industrial print is too.
Has much changed since InPrint in April 2014?
Fundamentally the show was similar, but what was most noticeable about it was how differently many of the exhibitors approached the second edition. This time more thought and commitment went into how booths were communicated and how each company exhibited. I think the market has realised that industrial printing is something worth putting effort into.
The InPrint Show has certainly played a role in establishing this marketplace and the technology. This is clearly something that the show has helped achieve.
In my opinion it was also noticeable that the second show simply felt more mature. In contrast InPrint 2014 which felt new, young and perhaps a little uncertain, InPrint 2015 felt more like it had been running a number of years.
Has the market developed rapidly?
In terms of market development I have to say the key trends looked fairly similar. So for most people I would say that the top three development areas are still the same, namely product decoration, décor and technologies for digital manufacturing. But I do think that that the market has moved forward and there are people there who have had success with specific applications that are now a reality particularly for direct to shape and décor.
Was the conversation exchange with visitors any different in 2015 compared with 2014?
Not really apart from the fact that visitors were even more focused this year. Everyone who came to the show had a sensible question to ask and there were very few time wasters. Visitors had most certainly done their research so the value in the conversations was excellent.
So what of the future then?
Well let’s be honest, any predictions that are made are with a crystal ball really as it is so hard to predict. All I can say for any segment is whether the growth is likely to be strong, moderate or slow.
• Functional: slow for now – interesting but hard to pin down
• For decorative interior design: moderate growth - not as dramatic as ceramics but consistent
• Textile is already strong and is expected to continue in this way
Functional printing I generally believe to be slow at the moment. But let’s be clear: it isn’t really a market. The issue does comes back to the fact that there is no such thing as a functional printing market as there are so many different variations and industries involved, both from the people using it and for those providing the technology. This is what InPrint can do for people in the factory that are finding it hard to solve problems on their own, and attending InPrint can provide them with potential solutions. I see this value proposition as integral to the success of InPrint and as more and more people talk about the show as being a valuable event for technical problem solving as well as advanced manufacturing innovation then I think the show will continue to grow.
You also exhibited at ITMA which is the large textile event – tell us more
For textile printing I guess the headline statement was that ITMA was about the battle of the single pass. It was interesting to see the different players with single pass technologies trying to win the battle for this space. With the cost of some of these machines in excess even of €2 million, it will be fascinating to see how many are purchased and whether the market can sustain a number of different players in the market.
In terms of companies and brands, there is a fair amount of M&A activity and a consolidation phase appears to have started. Some of the amounts being paid seem hard to justify - we will see whether these acquisitions give a return to the shareholders of the acquiring companies.
So single pass and consolidation, anything else?
Yes there does seem to be a lot of talk of pigment with excellent colour, perfect rub fastness and colour fastness – of course everyone wishes they had it. It is a potential game changer.
Pigment can work for certain applications onto cotton and it is the holy grail from an ink point of view not just for clothing but for furnishing and home décor. Once digital ink for this segment is created and isn’t just limited to one type of fabric then the market place for digital inkjet in textile printing is likely to grow at an even steeper rate. However, despite some rather confident claims from certain companies, we are a long way from that situation at the moment.