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How Product Developments Point to Market Shifts

(November 2007) posted on Wed Nov 07, 2007

Greene describes how changes in technology can affect the direction in which the printing industry moves.

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By Tim Greene

I recently listened to a podcast on strategies for successful forecasting. One of the gems of that podcast was the idea that strong opinions should be held weakly, meaning that new information and market developments should sway a forecaster’s opinion of what will happen and how fast. I have attended several events since the last time I wrote for Screen Printing magazine that have helped me form new opinions of the fu-ture of the screen- and digital-printing markets.

One of those events was FESPA 2007, held in Berlin, Germany, in June. It was a fantastic demonstration of the latest products from manufacturers from around the world. The attendance at that event was the best it has ever been, accord¬ing to FESPA, and the variety of hardware, inks, and substrates at the show was really very impressive.

Some recent developments, some of which I noted at FESPA, have really changed my perspective on digital printing’s influence on the screen-printing business. The first thing I noticed at FESPA was the tremendous interest in the digital products and services at a show that caters to the screen- and digital-printing market. My view had been that digital printing is making inroads into screen printing primarily in graphics and textiles, where the use of digital printing equipment makes it easier to more cost effectively produce short runs.

The second thing I noticed at FESPA was digital techno-logy’s influence on the four major segments of the screen-printing business: graphics, textiles, specialty/pad printing, and industrial. In addition to the dozens of wide-format graphics printers and digital textile-printing systems at the show, there were several examples of inkjet making an impact on the specialty/pad-printing and industrial-printing markets as well. For example, Sun Chemical and Fujifilm-Sericol/Kammann are running two unique projects in the market for printing optical disks, an area that fits in the industrial category because of the volumes typically run.

These two projects, which are quite different from each other, both bring digital printing to optical-disk marking. Sun Chemical’s work, called Project 37, is basically a UV-curable inkjet printer that can print 1200 optical disks per hour, thereby offering entertainment companies interesting promotional capabilities, such as personalization or regionalization, as well as just-in-time printing.


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