Leaders in the field reveal what they think about the challenges ahead for the industry.
Others, however, think there will still be a need for screen printing. Art Dobie is a technical manager for Sefar, Inc. and a member of the SGIA’s Academy of Screen Printing Technology. Sefar is a manufacturer of precision fabrics from monofilaments for the screen printing and filtration markets. He agrees that digital will continue to take over market share in shorter-run printing applications, but that it will have trouble gaining ground in other areas.
“In my opinion, the biggest impact for the future of screen-printing will be in industrial applications. Most industrial, electronic, and functional printing applications involve materials which have comparatively higher solids content and require thicker wet ink deposits. Screen printing matches up better with the requirements of these types of applications than most other printing methods,” Dobie says.
Fujifilm North American Corporation
Larry Hettinger is a product marketing manager in the graphic systems division for Fujifilm North American Corporation. He believes one of the biggest challenges that screen printers must address is the ability to provide short-run display graphics cost-effectively and with quick turnaround.
“Print buyers are striving to reach niche markets through versioning and personalization, as well as responding faster to changing market conditions. Niche markets will typically require shorter runs and be more cost-effectively produced using digital technologies,” Hettinger says.
While he sees niche markets as a growing industry segment, Hettinger believes that the best opportunities for maximizing revenues will be those projects that play to screen printing’s strengths: long-run jobs that require high coverage and maximum ink coverage.
“Fujifilm is developing new inkjet printers, inks, and workflow software to cost effectively and efficiently produce multiple version, wide-format display graphics to respond to these changing market conditions. We are also developing improvements in screen inks to respond to new substrates, improve productivity and throughput, and reduce cost,” he says.
Technology continues to propel the screen printing industry in new directions and being an active adaptor will certainly be a factor for those who hope for continued success, or at the very least, viability. MacDougall is an industry consultant and trainer, and author of the book, Screen Printing Today: The Basics. He believes that practitioners and business owners need to begin thinking of screen printing itself as a technology.
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