I was recently invited to visit the offices of SPGPrints in Boxmeer, the Netherlands to speak to Bas Hoijtink Commercial Manager for Industrial applications and learn more about recent developments at this market leading company.
For those that don’t know SPGPrints they were founded in 1947 as Stork Prints, the Textile Printing Group of STORK. Their primarily activity is in the textile, industrial and label markets, with a main focus consumables and equipment. Around 70% of their business is Inks & consumables, with the remaining 30 % focused on high value machines in Décor, Textile, Label, Wallcovering and various other industrial applications.
They offer both analogue rotary screens and digital technology for these applications. More recently they have developed the ARCHER® inkjet technology as an inkjet technology platform for the textile, wallpaper and décor business.
They have 15 worldwide operating companies and the development is done in Boxmeer. They are proud that the knowledge and knowhow is very much in the Netherlands.
Strategically, as a business, their primary market was textile and label industry, but their ground breaking innovations enabled them to also establish a strong position in décor and wallpaper printing. Now, based on the unique Archer® technology, they are strengthening their position in digital wallpaper and décor.
This is the area that I was particularly interested to find out more about, with particular interest in digitally produced Wall coverings, as Bas agreed that this is at a ‘tipping point’ and the recent visit of the Global wallcoverings association (www.igiwallcoverings.org ) to Boxmeer for their annual meeting highlighted the fact that SPGPrints is moving in this direction.
So I asked Bas what do they mean when they talk about décor?
We mean flooring/laminates, tables, doors, furniture, lampshades and in particular Wall coverings. Digitally Printing directly onto the substrate and onto paper for it to be applied.
Our approach is to work closely with leading wallpaper customers helping them to offer a more varied and flexible product offering. We have been listening to their needs. They are looking for alternatives to their traditional ways of producing wallcoverings to respond to customer needs.
Digital printing is gaining market share because of its flexibility and new design opportunities. It is an easy and environmentally friendly printing solution. Printers are looking for reliable partners who understand their business.
Bas explains SPGPrints’ new inkjet solutions are based on the successful Archer® Technology of our recently-launched PIKE and Javelin digital textile printers. Archer Technology uses an array of Fujifilm Dimatix Samba print heads to deliver fine detail at a resolution of 1200 x 1200dpi. One of the key characteristics of the technology is the gap of up to 4mm between the print heads and the substrate. This that enables a wide range textured substrates to be printed within tight register tolerances, and at high speed.
“We have been developing three new printers based on Archer Technology,” said Bas “Two UV-curable systems have been developed for décor applications. One is a 700mm-wide central impression system for applying coatings, textures or graphic images on to laminates. These laminates can be used for creating wood or stone effects on furniture, but without the heavy cost or large carbon footprint of those materials. Custom designs or branding can also be printed to create a distinctive image.
“The second décor application is a flat-bed printer that applies ink to rigid substrates like ceiling tiles, and heavy products such as panels and doors,” he said. “Our in-house ink manufacturing capabilities and experience position SPGPrints to realise these projects and become an industry leader in these the applications.”
“The third solution will be a central impression printer, which is wider than 2000mm and uses water-based inks for printing decor,” Bas continued. “Custom designs for specific spaces can be easily and cost-effectively printed with minimal waste, mostly dependent on matching patterns in drops. Water-based inks are ideal for wallcovering applications as they eliminate the odour associated with UV-curable inks, especially when used in small or enclosed spaces.”
I ask ‘What Type of customers for these machines and this technology’?
1. Order on demand companies
2. Small Trader market
3. Traditional wallpaper producers – who then buy Digital machines or the service of Digital print to supply
4. Specialist market – creating finishes – using perhaps Hybrid technology Screen and digital
Bas goes on “their customers at the top end are typically luxury hotels, high-class bars, retail etc and then Lower down the chain are Hospitals, schools, consumers. The demand for high quality short run Wallcoverings – such as Mural Wallpaper is changing – and we know that the challenges of repeats, run size, design match etc for traditional methods of production allows digital to offer the best solution. Conventional production methods are just too expensive and uneconomic to respond to demand.
In a way, Digital Décor drivers are the same as textile, and we know a lot about the textile market.
Producers come to digital for different reasons, but what I would say is ‘once they go digital ( PIKE) they never go back, because the advantages are there to see.
To find out more about SPGPrints products go to : www.spgprints.com