1) Manufacturing is in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution. A coalescence of changing consumer demand and maturing digital technology is changing how products are made and how manufacturing production operates. This paradigm shift has increased the importance of industrial printing as an advanced manufacturing process that enables the function and decoration of products from aviation to automotive, from pharmaceutical to packaging and from consumer electronics to computing.
2) The US market is a key market for industrial print. In fact it is reckoned by Deloitte and Touché, that by 2020, manufacturing output will overtake China due to a steep incline in advanced manufacturing. This will create more need for industrial printing that is positioned closer to customers.
3) As a result, industrial print will grow to become the largest of all print markets. Analogue industrial print is already valued at $100 Billion and as demand continues to grow for consumer goods, so too will the industrial print category. In fact, according to IT Strategies, this will grow in excess of $130 Billion by 2022. Industrial inkjet growth has accelerated to 36% to 2022 outpacing any other print technology sector by some margin whilst being the third highest recipient of VC funding after green technologies and social media.
4) But what is industrial print? Industrial print is print for manufacturing. It is not the high value printing of large format posters or brochures. Industrial print is varied and is deployed in multiple marketplaces and industries making it quite distinct from conventional printing as a technology, process, application and market.
5) People often misunderstand what industrial print means. Industrial printing is not the high volume printing of paper based applications such as brochures and magazines. An offset printing machine is not designed to print industrial print applications and as a result printing paper sheets, brochures and magazines is not classified as industrial print.
6) Industrial printing technology must fit into a pre-existing manufacturing production line. But industrial print doesn't only mean printing huge scale and volume. Increasingly manufacturers are being forced to produce smaller batches or runs of product to suit shifting consumer demand. This has increased strong interest in digital production that is far better suited to short run, flexible production that reduces the need for stock inventories.
7) Industrial print is the most widely visible and widespread of all printing. Wake up, have breakfast, check your emails on your tablet, make a call on your smartphone and get into your car. You will have already come into contact with a multitude of printing that has been part of the process of manufacturing.
8) Industrial inkjet enables creative possibilities that are otherwise seen as impossible with analogue printing. Significantly, digital reduces the need for manufacturers to hold a large amount of stock. This in turn liberates designers to express themselves and try out designs that may be deemed too risky with the conventional analogue process, unlocking new potential and enabling innovation.
9) The focal point for technological innovation within industrial printing technology is inkjet and screen printing. These processes provide manufacturers with high quality and flexible production. In some cases both technologies are used in harmony within the same production line and sometimes even the same machine.
10) As the consumer world continues to niche and as customisation continues to grow then industrial inkjet will play a larger role in designing and defining interiors, whether wall coverings, flooring, furniture or other decorative surfaces. In addition to visual value, inkjet is having an increasing number of applications within printer electronics and 3D printing as manufacturers continue to need new ways of producing their products to add performance, reduce cost and add value.
11) Industrial Décor printing is rated to grow over 10% per year. 37% of a recent survey conducted by InPrint put growth at over 15%. Current percentage of digital production for laminates is 5% according to Munksjö’s. The total printed area per year is reckoned to be 6.5 billion sq metres. The market growth for all laminate production is reckoned to be 7%.
12) According to the InPrint 2016 Survey and Report, collaboration is seen as the most important factor for the successful integration of inkjet into manufacturing. Although inkjet technology is capable of performing within manufacturing, each manufacturing industry and operation is different and there is a need for collaboration from the creators of industrial inkjet, ink manufacturers, integrators and customers. This is essential in order for the right technology to be produced for the right role.
13) When integrating inkjet, it is often important that the production unit is customised to suit the requirements of the particular market and production characteristics of the customer. This often means the manufacturer is not simply investing in a finished machine to do the job but requires a customised solution which demands consultation, time and development of inks, software, engineering and electronics. This means that collaboration is important.
14) Industrial print is an advanced manufacturing process. It is the most technically demanding of all printing. Printing for manufacturing must be of an excellent standard in order to pass rigorous testing, withstanding extreme conditions and for the application to last over time. A car speedometer for example, cannot fade!
15) Smart technology is driving up demand for industrial ‘smart’ screen printing. This segment is rapidly growing and screen printing is the only process that can cope with the considerable demands for touch sensitive components where the printing of silicon enables a smart screen to function.
16) Industrial print is not adversely affected by the shift to new media, in fact it benefits from anything that drives consumer demand. As demand for paper printing contracts, there is a simultaneous growth for online media which in turns adds demand for industrial print through the interconnected digitisation of production and consumption.
17) Industrial inkjet is adding productivity and flexibility into manufacturing. Mass customisation is contributing to the growth of industrial inkjet and in some cases, along with other digital technologies it is enabling the re-shoring of industry back to the US. Take digital textile printing for example. Consumer demand for localised production continues to increase and providing customised solutions . Using digital inkjet, producers no longer have to carry large stock inventories providing them with the opportunity to respond quickly with customised product that better suits the needs of the local market. This is called fast fashion.
18) Screen printing is the most widely used and flexible of processes in industrial print and is the oldest printing process of all. Screen printing is dominant in its production especially within functional printing. The growth of smart technology has inspired a dramatic increase in the use of screen printing as the only process to meet the advanced production requirements for Apple and other leading smart technology brands.
19) In contrast, inkjet is the youngest printing technology of all but has developed to be able to enter multiple markets, mostly to provide new possibilities for print production as opposed to replacing technology by adding flexibility and accelerating speed to market.
20) Inkjet is not only used for decorative and packaging purposes. It is also being used within functional printing for 3D Printing prototyping and to print specialist components and parts for advanced product manufacturing within aviation, automotive, consumer electronics, medical, pharmaceutical and other high specification segments.
To see the latest developments for industrial printing and to connect with experts and insight, then attend InPrint USA which takes part on 25-27 April in Orlando, USA.
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