InPrint Show Report Reveals Forces for Growth in Industrial Print

The InPrint Show conducted research to 350 visitor’s and exhibitors onsite in Hannover, revealing key insight into where demand is taking technology into the future. The show itself was seen as a glimpse into the future of print technology, where it is being developed, deployed and integrated into new and exciting applications. Here we outline some of the key themes of the report. So did Industrial Print truly live up to the hype?

In a word, yes. For the team it was very pleasing to see the event work and exceed our, our exhibitors and pretty much all of the industries expectations. Growth for industrial print is powered by general consumer demand for products, coupled with the trend towards mass customisation of production. Industrial Print is currently valued at $100 Billion by I.T. Strategies and has a growth of $20 Billion which in expected in less than 10 years, largely driven by digital development. However this growth is not negatively affected by the increase of online retail and the general shift of marketing budgets towards online media. This growth is also not at the expense of analogue revenue – digital is finding a place in industrial printing that co-exists, adds value and to some extent blends with analogue.

InPrint - What is Industrial Print

But what is Industrial Print? The accepted definition of industrial print, is printing print that is part of the process of manufacturing. In this case it isn't always ink that is printed! Industrial print plays a role in either the function or the decoration of a product. When you think about it – print is all about us, and is placed onto a wide array of surfaces, from inside your iPad and iPhone to the wood décor on your kitchen table, the ceramic tiles on your kitchen floor, the carpet in your hallway to the dashboard inside of your car, without it products would not work and would not look good.

Print technology shown at the InPrint Show included screen and pad printing, digital, inkjet and 3D Printing. The focus was on cutting edge technology that is innovative, precise, robust and durable.

Industrial print has to meet the highest of production standards. There is zero tolerance for even a slight imperfection. Print simply cannot fade in sunlight!

Did the event work?

Yes. It exceeded expectation. It worked because it attracted a different, focused and high quality group of people who came to the event with specific technical challenges and problems to solve. These people were a strategic level (71%) and they came predominantly (53%) from the manufacturing sector with only (28%) from the print industry. It therefore made sense that the discussions exhibitors had at the show were very different to that of a regular print trade show. Nearly 20% came from companies with over 1000 employees for example. Projects were commissioned and business was done, but with a unique sector of industry, leading us to conclude that the event broke new ground.

The need for customised solutions

The InPrint Show was not actually a ‘heavy metal’ show. Visitors attended for cutting edge technology and for ways to integrate this into their production line. Finished machinery whilst still relevant therefore, was not the main focus. Attendance came from diverse industries including automotive, aeronautical, ceramics, electronics, furnishing, packaging and textile. What united all visitors was their need to search for innovative print technology coupled with technical expertise that provided solutions to new production problems. This ranged from printing directly onto curved surfaces and cylinders to printing into and within electronic devices to surface imaging onto wood, metal, glass, textiles and plastics.

The desire for new possibilities

What drove most people’s attendance to InPrint was to discover new technology in order to generate new revenue. Mass customisation is driving huge change within the industrial print sector – where technology can meet a more localised need for production and a more customised and sometimes personalised approach to manufacturing. Digital production provides options not possible with analogue technologies – this means short set up time, low stock inventory, allied to super quick design to production time and personalised potential for production. This is where local manufacturing can have an advantage over production that might take place in another continent. Time to market is rapidly increased. This re-shores production to Europe as digital technology enables manufacturers to respond more quickly to competitive market pressures.

But industrial print is about a blend of many technologies, not process replacement

When the graphic sector transformed from analogue to digital printing output this displaced screen printing as the main process. For industrial print, radical displacement is much more unlikely to occur. For a start, the demands for production are more complex. For example, screen printing is so robust and high quality as well as being incredibly efficient and fast, it doesn’t make sense for digital to attempt to replace it. The digital opportunity for industrial print is to provide performance that is new and in most cases compliments the analogue technology. Some developing machinery is even a blend of both technologies. This enables the end-manufacturer to realise new possibilities without compromising on quality.

Europe is a leader in development and integration

It is widely reported that the market is being led by Europe in terms of the development and integration of new technologies into manufacturing. This doesn’t mean that other parts of the world are not adopting new technologies, it just means that due to the competitive nature of the European market, that innovation is being adopted quicker as it adds competitive advantage.

Complimentary Copy of InPrint Show Report and Market Analysis

We have completed an extensive, 24 page report on InPrint and an Analysis of the forming market and community of industrial print technology. To gain your free copy, please email printshows@mackbrooks.com