Since launching InPrint I have been part of various discussions where we have spent quite a lot of time thinking, debating and defining industrial print. It seems to be commonly accepted by everyone I meet that #IP represents an astonishing opportunity, but the question that everyone asks is 'What is it you are classifying as industrial print? And how are you defining it?'
Although industrial print is as old as the manufactured goods in which it plays a part in creating, it does seem astonishing to me that there is no commonly held definition that exists on Wikipedia or anywhere else for that matter. And it needs a definition. But first we need to clarify what industrial print isn't, as the word 'industrial' could be used to describe, by print technology manufacturers, machinery that they regard to be suitable for industrial volume and standard, as opposed to the output it creates.
It's true that some people describe print machinery that has a high capacity or output as being industrial, regardless of the application. So an offset/litho print machine, is an industrial machine, as it produces high quality output and has a large amount of capacity. In the context of InPrint, and more specifically, the area of industrial print however, this machine is only industrial if it is able to print applications that fit our description of industrial. It is not industrial if it merely prints brochures for example.
The definition of industrial print to us is print that does not have the primary purpose of carrying a promotional message. It is print that is part of a manufacturing process. That either enables the function of a product or that enhances its appearance or decoration. This is not necessarily ink, but could be a functional fluid, like, for example, the 7 layers of silicone that are screen printed behind the glass that enables a tablet touch screen to enable it to work is an industrial process.
In terms of applications, I think this does include small run print onto unusual surfaces that play a decorative role (doors, textiles, ceramics, and glass) and it does include packaging. Despite the fact that some packaging print is designed to encourage a purchase, the print itself is part of a manufactured product. And for technical print, this, as I have already mentioned with the tablet example, is not necessarily printing of ink, but another functional fluid that actually enables the product to work or that codes, marks or provides some kind of functional contribution to the product itself.
So as you can probably tell – industrial print has an exciting future. Its varied application gamut provides great opportunity for businesses looking to access and serve the burgeoning sector.
And the exciting thing is it is process agnostic – the technology can be everything, from state of the art screen printing, to inkjet, to pad printing. As long as it produces industrial output, it doesn’t matter to us!
We believe that InPrint is the future of innovation in print. Industrial provides double digit growth potential. The traditional sectors are shrinking, now it is time for leaders to connect print technology and processes to new markets. We hope you decide to join our industrial print revolution by getting involved in some way. So please do sign up for our regular updates.