Introducing Sihl: An interview with David Radtke

Sihl has recently signed up to become one of the InPrint Blog's Knowledge Partners for the next 12 months. As part of their participation with us, we have started by asking David Radtke, Head of Group Marketing a few questions about the German manufacturer to discover more about their products and their views on the future of industrial printing.

David, could you succinctly explain what it is that Sihl do?

Sihl is the leading expert for printing media solutions in a fast growing digital imaging market. As a high-performing, international company, Sihl offers all-important technological expertise and in-depth, comprehensive knowledge of the industry.

With its future proof product solutions, Sihl strengthens its customers’ market position and makes a significant contribution to improving its customers’ and partners’ added value with innovative services that support their processes.

The only one-stop shop for digitally printable media in the world, Sihl works with 500 employees at three main factories. Those are located in Bern, Switzerland (production), Dueren, Germany (production) and Fiskeville, USA (logistics and converting centre). In addition, there are several sales agents and sales partners. In 2015 Sihl had a turnover of 140 million euros. Sihl delivers more than 65,800 shipments to well over 1,000 customers in 70 countries.

David Radtke Head of Marketing

David Radtke Head of Marketing

What is your view on innovation? How important is new product development for Sihl?

The generation of ideas, development of new technologies and application possibilities, along with commercialising in new and existing markets are the competencies that Sihl excel in. For this Sihl employee numerous technical specialists and application technicians at all Sihl locations, who alongside supporting our customers on a daily basis, also develop on market relevant applications in modern, fully equipped laboratories.

This also includes Sihl’s further development in established business models and adaption’s made to meet changing customer requirements. For example in the business unit Interior Design the creation of their own brand EASY2WALL: With the aim taking an individual wall design from the planning, through the design to making applications possible. This Spin-off structure allows a complete focus on new customer segments far away from standard business models. 

What market segment do you believe offers the best opportunity for industrial printing in the future?

Maximal flexibility together with high individualisation measures are trends, responsible for ever-changing value and supply chains within various markets.  Significant progress has been made in the field of industrial digital printing technology; making it easier to address customer-specific requirements and user-defined improvements and input for brand identity and communication.

Developments in packaging, interior design, dye sublimation, and labels are particularly exciting for Sihl.

How do your products effectively work with industrial inkjet?

Over the last 2 years the company has succeeded in developing and expanding a new product portfolio for digital textile printing, products from the sports category became extremely successful in a very short period of time. The sublimation paper was specifically developed for stretchy textiles in the sportswear industry. During the transfer process, the print adheres to the textile and hinders unwanted effects such as ghosting or blurred line contours, resulting in high productivity and an extremely low rejection rate.

Further successful product launches for digital applications were made within the interior design sector. High demands on resistant, particularly in public buildings, on wallcoverings can be seen: i.e.in hotels surface robustness is necessary, as bags, luggage or other large objects are constantly being knocked against; or in bars where drinks, food sauce can be spilt, the requirement for washability without stains or damage to the wallpaper is high – in the best cases the dried substance on the wallpapers can be peeled off; in hospitals, nursing homes or medical practices wallpaper must withhold the effects of aggressive disinfectants; in play schools the walls are often subject to coloured pens/ pencils, fluids or toys being flung around, therefore the need for a high resistant durable wallpaper is also very high. Sihl has developed a digitally printable, resistant, robust wallpaper for precisely these areas whereby the highest demands on durability and cleaning are met.

Also in FACESTOCK we have seen the first successes in industrial printing with labels for consumer goods and labelling for logistics, especially for dangerous goods labels. The enforcement of globally recognised standard for labelling of chemicals has led to many companies having to change label layout and the way in which labels are addressed/ printed. More and more companies are opting for materials that can be printed using waterbased inks as a result of this change. Sihl offer a special film with a waterbased receptive coating, which stands out due to its high abrasion and water resistant properties and it has been tested and approved according to BS 5609 Section 3. 

What are the challenges that may slow industrial print growth?

Technically industrial digital printing still has a  few hurdles to tackle: printable of many substrates, resistant to high temperatures and mechanical stress, approvals for direct food contact and abrasion resistant packaging, etc. However, competences in data management, data protection and data handling skills are also aspects that need further development.  

For further information on Sihl please go to their website www.sihl.com and for enquiries email info@sihl.com