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Green Printing and Product Life Cycle

(June 2011) posted on Tue Jun 21, 2011

Check out the latest trends in new products for and adoption of green sustainability in wide-format printing.

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By Tim Greene

This article covers the trends in green wide-format printing, which are largely enabled by UV-curable inkjet printers. While I believe strongly in conservation, it would be a big stretch to call me a tree-hugger or sustainability freak. My take on sustainability is that there are a lot of very practical reasons for companies to undertake sustainability initiatives that are all based on the potential these initiatives have on growing the bottom line.

InfoTrends has done quite a bit of research on the topic of green printing and there seems to be some fairly basic findings that are important to describe. First among these is that there is no question, at least among the printing companies we have surveyed and interviewed, that there is growth in the demand for green wide-format printing among wide-format-print buyers. To be honest, I don’t know if this is an altruistic let’s save the planet kind of trend or if this is driven by the buyer’s desire to save on shipping and disposal costs. I am certain that another aspect of this trend towards green printing is brand-driven, with some of the big brand retailers and manufacturers driving the concept of sustainable printing.

Another core finding is that many wide-format-print-service providers are changing from solvent inkjet production to UV-curable inkjet production. Once again though, I think there is a real mixed bag when it comes to primary motivation for making this kind of transition. While there are definitely some companies that are deliberately going green by reducing or eliminating solvent inkjet printing for environmental reasons, many of the companies we have interviewed and surveyed reported that going green is more of a by-product of their investment decision than the primary motivator.

One of the companies we recently worked with knew for certain that they were going to buy a UV-curable inkjet printer to replace some of their existing solvent inkjet printers, but their motivation was most certainly because UV-curable inkjet printers are faster and offer capabilities such as white-ink printing. The green aspect was a nice-to-have, not a must-have, and I think we’re seeing this frequently. Companies tell us they are most interested in quality and speed when it comes to their new printer, followed closely by oper-ational cost and then environmental factors.


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