The following is Q&A session with Inkjet! Everything You Need to Know about Inkjet History, Technology, Markets, and Products author Frank J. Romano.
What are some of the bigger changes in the inkjet industry and market between this edition and the first edition released four years ago?
The major change has been the maturing of inkjet technology. It took over 30 years for inkjet to find its niches, but now it is advancing rapidly.
To date, where have printers had some of the greatest success with inkjet?
Wide-format printing has been a real money maker for printers of all kinds. Roll-fed inkjet has increased the volume of paper, plastic, and fabric signage and photo-realistic imagery. So far, it has not been commoditized. By the way, a major value-added service: grommets!
What are some interesting applications and markets that are primed for inkjet printers to take advantage of?
I like the inkjets that print on textiles and ceramics. Flatbed inkjet printers with UV ink can print on many “thick” materials. This capability opens the door to many new value-added applications. It’s not your traditional ink-on-paper market, but there is money to be made.
A chapter in Inkjet! is dedicated to packaging. Can you briefly describe some of the advantages of using inkjet in this arena?
There were over 15 inkjet printers for label printing at drupa. Global branding and distribution require packaging in different languages and printed closer to where the packaging is actually done.
In 2008, 11 percent of packaging was customized and that has reached 23 percent today. By 2015, 67 percent of all packaging graphics printed with inkjet will be printed on sheetfed printers.
The packaging printing industry covers a wide range of different segments, including flexible packaging, corrugated packaging, folding cartons, paper bags, rigid packaging, metal cans, pouches, sanitary packaging, plastic containers, glass containers, multi-sack, and miscellaneous packaging. Most of the traditional printing techniques are applicable to package printing but considerable attention is being paid to digital printing techniques.
What’s the first bit of advice you would give a general commercial printer who is considering expanding their service offerings to include inkjet?
Run samples. Bring your files of the work you want to do and see how they run and look.
What are some of the more exciting applications you’ve seen that use inkjet printing as a manufacturing method?
Industrial printing refers to a wide spectrum of printed components that are part of other products or consist of final products themselves—beyond traditional promotional and document printing, which is mostly reproduced on paper and paperboard substrates.
In the world of industrial printing, ink or other substances are deposited on a variety of non-paper substrates and objects of varying thickness and shape, using virtually every printing technology, for virtually every consumer, business, and manufacturing requirement.
The home decoration market is growing rapidly. Depending on the inkjet printer, you can print on glass, fabric, metal, plastic, and other materials.
Can you discuss any particularly interesting or exciting inkjet technologies revealed at this year’s drupa?
Of course, Landa nanographic printing was the highlight of the show. It usurped everything else. The most important announcement is that Komori, manroland, and Heidelberg will integrate Landa nanographic printing into a new breed of presses.
Where do you see the inkjet process in five years? Ten years? Beyond?
Well, inkjet will become mainstream. Many of the drupa introductions are a year or more away from commercialization. That did not stop a large number of printing companies from putting down large deposits to be first in line when the machines are introduced. Inkjet will compete with toner and offset litho and screen printing and flexo and gravure.
To order your copy of Inkjet! Second Edition: Everything You Need to Know about Inkjet History, Technology, Markets, and Products, by Frank J. Romano, speak with a Member Central Representative by clicking here, 800-910-4283 ext. 770, or 412-259-1770. Or order online at www.printing.org/store.