Marc Graindourze, Business Development Manager Industrial Inks & Tom Cloots, Director Industrial Inkjet, Agfa Graphics give their view of this developing market.
Industrial inkjet printing refers to the process wherein the digital printing is used during the manufacturing process to assist the function, decoration or the manufacturing itself of the product.
The advantages of the digital inkjet process play a key role in its attractiveness. For instance, printing at the last possible moment (print to order) as well as versioning of articles and mass customization offer answers to current industry needs.
As the technology today is capable of offering the best fit solutions for many applications, the big question on the table is rather if the manufacturing industry is ready to adopt industrial inkjet printing and even more if this is an area which is expected to grow in the near future.
Agfa Graphics is a key player in this field. We are working with many industries to turn industrial inkjet printing into a success story. Our industrial inkjet ink portfolio spans a wide range of ink families designed for reliable printing at industrial speeds, meeting the specific functional requirements of each of the applications. 2016 definitely was a top year for Agfa Graphics in industrial printing projects with high-volume growth in industrial inkjet inks for multiple compelling applications.
“The adoption of industrial inkjet printing is speeding up, with 2016 as clear mark showing higher growth rates. One of the indicators is the large number of companies growing from printing samples to full production printing.”
Is this growth general?
The trend is definitely widespread and not limited to one particular application. We see growth in many segments, certainly in printed interior decoration (PID) and packaging printing. PID comprises a lot such as flooring material, furniture panels, wallpapers and decoration glass, but printing directly on the walls itself is even a possibility.
UV inkjet technology has also gained a dominant position in the label printing market. But in the broader packaging printing area, UV inkjet presses for many other applications are being developed too, including direct container printing, blisters, closure caps, carton boxes, corrugated carton etc.
Why the sudden adaptation of print in the industrial environments?
Inkjet printing has proven its capabilities from a technological point of view. Now industry leaders start to understand the commercial value and they are rapidly gaining the expertise needed to integrate all parts of the solution in a reliable process. There are now many examples of industrial inkjet printing, which successfully combine output, quality and consistency for production printing. The solutions that have been developed including such a digital printing option now deliver an overall performance that meets the expectations for each specific application, such as direct-to-shape printing.
Will the growth continue?
We consider this only the beginning. The possibilities are enormous and we are sure that strategic designers will come with even more and inventive applications, now that the technology has left the prototyping phase.
“The adoption of industrial inkjet printing will grow even faster than before. The trend to increased production printing is already visible from the start of the year. Moreover, many new print systems are expected to be installed in the course of the next months. Based on the number of new projects with our partners, who all intend to implement the next level of industrial inkjet solutions, we can only be affirmative about the continued potential of this sector.”
On the one hand, there will be new installations, including a print system, that have proven their capabilities for production printing, especially in the packaging and decoration markets. On the other hand, new customized print systems are hitting the market, targeting completely new applications. Last but not least, the engagement of brand owners, converters, packaging companies, etc. with regard to new projects was unseen before and is a strong indicator for continued growth in this industry.
This year in April InPrint will hit USA with its first show (April 25-27 in Orlando, Florida).
Is the ‘vibe’ as strong in the USA?
Yes, we see large potential in the USA. While European inkjet system integrators have been on the forefront of system developments over the last years, we see a growing number of USA-based inkjet system integrators becoming active, especially in packaging applications. Think about typical consumer products popular in USA, such as drinkware (hot and cold drinks, including mugs, grippers, tumblers, travel mugs, souvenir drink containers…) and containers for popcorn, candies, snacks, etc. Inkjet printing is the most economical solution for production run lengths that are completely variable, or for personalization which is a pre-requisite for on-line sales. The options in packaging are endless. Versioning of dairy containers, blister packs, boxes etc. will improve the interaction with consumers. Brand owners are very eager to use digital printing to improve brand loyalty.
Converters play a key role in the US packaging market. The co-location of the InPrint USA show with ICE USA will allow converters to understand how they can benefit from inkjet printing and make their offerings to brand owners more diverse.
Agfa Graphics is not only focusing on the packaging market. Many different applications will be shown on the Agfa booth, including decoration (wallpaper, deco laminate, glass panels), and marking & coding alternatives.
Agfa Graphics is a founding member and ambassador of InPrint. Agfa Graphics will be present at the show with its expert team on industrial printing. Meet us in Orlando at InPrint USA – 25-27th April at booth 1625.
You can register for FREE as Agfa's guest at www.inprintshow.com/usa/visitors/registration/ using the code : Court17