We recently spoke with Jan De Vooght at Agfa about how the company is tackling the development of industrial printing products at InPrint 2015 and into the future.
Tell us more about Agfa?
The story of Agfa is about the history of imaging technology really. Agfa Graphics more specifically is a supplier to the printing industry with prepress machinery, printing plates, software and most recently also wide format inkjet printing solutions and related dedicated software. Too long a story to explain in detail, yet illustrating that color, inks and printing are in the DNA of our company. That know-how is the reason for our activities in the new industrial printing market.
How important is industrial printing to the future of the business?
Industrial printing is a quite general term and embraces so many technologies. In fact it has very little in common with the conventional printing industry unless for the fact that there is a process of putting ink on a substrate. But that is it. However it will change many existing processes while creating even new ones. Already now, manufacturing of products has drastically changed thanks to the fact that printing (parts of) pieces has been introduced.
What products do you have which could be classified as industrial printing?
As a supplier to the industry we can only help industries in their conversion to create completely new products or to do things differently. Our ink technology is important for sure. High density UV inks allow for printing on a wide range of substrates as part of the manufacturing process of doors or table tops for example. Our low-migration inks are used to print directly on butter tubs or plastic bottles, offering more flexibility in the images, the run lengths and personalization. Some of our wide format printing equipment is used to print in the manufacturing line and we offer color management expertise to those who are confronted with the fact that color can be so different on various substrates.
What are the challenges for developing new products for industrial print?
As said, we have built a lot of expertise on inks, color, automatization and imaging in the past. And we are convinced that such expertise is vital for future developments. Nevertheless are the expectations set quite different. Printing speed for example or scratch resistance, chemical behavior.
What will you be launching at InPrint?
Agfa Graphics is using InPrint as a platform the get in contact with the industry. It is an industry, which is looking for solutions rather than products per se. So we will be promoting the technologies and show how they are successfully introduced in parts of the industry already.
Agfa is committed to industrial inkjet, so do you see a future where inkjet has replaced existing analogue technologies across the industrial spectrum?
As an industry we know new technologies are being used wide-spread. The end user will never know. Laminate flooring and tiling industry have already made huge steps in converting to new digital functional printing alternatives. The decoration industry is also offering a wide range of new products. Take the personalized wall paper as an example. And in packaging, which is the closest to the conventional printing, the digital alternatives are typically used for promotional reasons on consumer products.
Agfa is an InPrint Sponsor, to what extent do you believe that the InPrint Show is important to the development of industrial print?
There is a clear demand to lower stocks, offer personalized products and being able to follow industry and fashion trends. In essence we all aim at doing things smarter and more targeted to the end user. With inkjet printing technology and a lot of creativity, it is possible to rethink existing workflows, and create new opportunities. We think the InPrint Show creates this platform where industry leaders meet and learn how to integrate new technologies in a manufacturing process.
Agfa is exhibiting at InPrint 2015 on booth #F21