Engineered Printing Solutions are the Platinum Sponsor for InPrint USA which will take place 25-27 April 2017 in Orlando. In this interview we talk about the development of the business, a company which has evolved with technology to become expert at direct to shape printing technology whether pad printing or inkjet. Here I talk to Vice President of Sales, Tim Scully.
Tim, do you believe in the last two years have seen growth in demand for industrial inkjet?
Yes definitely, the past two years have been very interesting as enthusiasm for industrial inkjet is growing rapidly. As manufacturing continues to transform, inkjet will continue to grow in demand within various markets. Several years ago we would have two or three units in the queue each year. Presently we are designing and producing that number each month and we have a sales pipeline that is quite big. The purchase cycle may have required two years of time mostly due to lack of awareness and time spend on ROI considerations. Now we notice potential partners have invested time to understand industrial inkjet and come here aware of the potential. We are starting at the point of intent and can jump right into our product sample testing to prove out the concept.
Would you expect to see this continue to increase? Why?
Absolutely, we believe the growth in demand for industrial inkjet will continue. The analogue equipment in service is aging and potentially needs to be replaced. Our screen and pad printing customers are considering digital. The investment in inkjet is making financial sense to a lot of manufacturers today, especially if the focus is driving a higher production at a lower unit cost or, the print element is a unique point of differentiation in their particular business segment.
Does this mean the beginning of the end of pad and screen printing?
Again investing in inkjet has to make financial sense. We have customers printing a single colour at high volume, and some printing a single image that does not change. In cases like these we would recommend that our customers stick with the analog pad printing solution. We also discuss the skill sets required for Operators of the machinery. When you have talented people in place that can troubleshoot a pad or screen printing machine, will they successfully make the transition over to inkjet? Analog machinery will likely retain their niche because there is still a lot more required to fully develop inkjet – compound curves for instance; this is still best done with analogue.
What is your view with inkjet for packaging? Will direct to shape replace labels?
The potential for inkjet for packaging is huge. Direct to shape is more efficient where it counts. A well designed solution is more efficient, and it is more flexible 'on the fly' because of the variability and ability for late stage customization. We refer to direct-to-shape as ‘Liquid Labels’ in this context. You can also argue that direct to shape should replace traditional labels. By eliminating traditional labels from the manufacturing process you reduce carbon, energy, waste, and water usage immediately. The companies that understand this and adhere to these principals stand to benefit because they implement positive practices their customers are actively seeking out.
One of the large challenges is ink development. It comes down to compatibility and migration. There is also a lot of regulation around the certification of UV inks. The photo initiators may not be considered safe for packaging of certain categories of product. When you consider the migration of inks, there is definitely a lot of evolution left for ink manufacturers and related partner’s downstream manufacturing solutions for post-cure.
What is the biggest problem facing industrial inkjet?
The technology gap. We need more Operators who understand how to run digital print equipment. It is a different mind-set. The mechanical experience an analogue Operator possesses doesn’t always translate into operating and maintaining inkjet machines.
Another challenge we’ve found is the fact that our environment is dominated by NDA’s. It would be interesting to see the rate of adoption if we were able to move past this. This entrenched practice has an adverse impact on collaboration and it inhibits advancement in the industry as a whole.
What is the biggest opportunity?
We are energized by the enthusiasm we hear when we discuss projects with clients and those considering inkjet as a solution. As companies decide to take the plunge, for sure, everyone considers the potential risk. But as they do they have the potential to become the market leader, they have the ability to offer their customers shorter run items that are personalized or unique in some interesting way. If those types of market forces exist, competitors are forced to adapt to be competitive. I see this as our biggest opportunity. Continued adoption and an increase in manufacturing segment penetration will drive more adoption and the basis for that will be competitive advantage and market legitimacy.
What, in your opinion is different about the USA market compared with Europe?
From where I sit today, I can observe that the pace of adoption and the appetite for risk is shifting toward US market opportunities. That’s not to say Europe is slowing or moving away from industrial inkjet. We are actively pursuing a larger market presence in Europe & have inquiries from around the world in any given week. My Sales Team has more recent success developing partnerships with US manufacturers.
I am happy to report that “Made in the USA” is important again, and the number of manufacturing jobs that are returning to the U.S. or coming to the U.S. for the first time has seen a steady uptick, a net increase from what I have read over the past five to six years.
For further information on EPS check out their website http://www.epsvt.com/
To check out EPS and their participation at InPrint USA www.inprintshow.com/usa