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Since the launch of the InPrint Show back in 2012 we have been asked 'What is Industrial Print'? Or how do we define it? There does seem to be variations depending on the different people you speak to. Here is the definition we adhere to for the InPrint Show.
Imagine your average day. Your smartphone, washing machine, dishwasher, car, computer virtually everything that has some kind of function contains to some extent, industrial printing. It might not be ink that is deployed, it could something like silicon that helps the device to work, but it is industrial printing in that it uses a process such as screen printing to integrate an aspect of the process that enables the product to work.
Then think of the floor upon which you walk, the table you are sitting at, the walls which surround you. There is a high probability that industrial printing has been involved in some way in the decoration and creation of either a wood floor, a textile, wallpaper or indeed furniture. Industrial printing plays a tremendous role in the decoration of our environments, increasingly so as the shift towards self-expression continues and customisation is placed at a premium. Digital printing technology is incredibly important in decorative printing as a complement to analogue.
Then think about what we consume and the way it is packaged. How is this decorated? What do brands and retailers want from their packaging printing? What is it designed to do? As the last interruptive media, packaging has an ever higher value within the marketing supply chain. Clever packaging helps brands to sell units. What do we drink, eat and what is it that the packaging has to do? Innovative packaging sells more product. With innovation in special inks for screen printing on high end luxury products as well as the increasingly visible direct to shape inkjet revolution, this segment is an exciting and buoyant one within industrial print.
Industrial print is both defined by the applications that it is active in and the speed and productivity it can achieve. Quality is paramount within industrial print but if printing is to be used within industrial environments then it must be fast to be correctly classed as industrial. Whilst shorter runs of products is a trend within manufacturing, a one off print of a ceramic tile or t-shirt is not industrial printing.
Back in 2012 I.T Strategies made a realistic estimation that the value was then around the $100 Billion mark. And that they predicted growth of around 20% in 10 years to $120 Billion. This valuation is a direct estimation of the value of the print, not the entire value of the production of any one industry. Since then they have revised this upwards as growth has accelerated to 36% due to growth in demand for certain products and an increase in adoption for inkjet which is complementing rather than dislodging traditional industrial print technologies.