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The Future for Printing

(December 2011) posted on Wed Dec 14, 2011

Industry vets predict what will come in the ensuing year.

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By Gail Flower

A fast-moving area for graphics printing lies in the growth of digital. If it can be digital, it will be is a frequently quoted comment attributed to Benny Landa of Indigo, now HP-Indigo. “I think this quote extrapolates to the screen and specialty printing markets,” says Tim Greene, adding that innovations in material deposition, printhead technologies, and substrates enable digital printing systems to take on more marketshare than in the past. But some things can’t be digital, he adds.

“There will always be room for flexo and screen-printing processes for different applications and/or longer job runs; however, we see the future in digital printing and laser cutting inline,” says Mike Bacon. “This eliminates waste, tooling costs, design times for tooling changeover waste, and reduction of operators. Digital printers and laser converting offer true plateless technology that allows the prepress department to RIP files and send both the cut and print files to the machine so that the operator only needs to push a button and run a product.”

As the speed and accuracy of digital printing increase, so will the inherent benefits of minimal set ups and changeovers, adds Herb Gieseler.

Even with growing digital printing, screen printing is still a platform for long runs, says Rick Moore, explaining that printers have already made an investment in equipment and screen but that production has steadily moved to wide-format digital and printers are now moving workloads to UV flatbed systems.

Declining run lengths
Danielle Mattiussi, Mike Bacon, David Murphy, Hiroshi Ono, and Jim Lambert all commented on declining run lengths and shorter lead times, requiring flexible printing and converting equipment. Optimizing efficiencies everywhere sets the pace for production control in a successful printing operation.

“Where end users may have once requested a print run of 2000 identical point-of-purchase displays, they are now asking for 500 for one region, 150 for a smaller market highlighting a new promotion, 50 for a new store, and on until the total reaches the original,” Harel Ifhar says.

New inks, substrates, and equipment
According to Greene, tremendous innovations are taking place all the time in inks, material deposition, printhead technology, and substrates that enable digital printing systems, tools, and technologies to be applied to the wide range of applications that now fall under the screen/specialty printing headings.


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