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Single-Pass Inkjet and the Wide World of Décor

(June/July 2017) posted on Fri Jul 07, 2017

High-speed industrial inkjet technology is expanding into décor applications including laminate flooring, furniture, doors, and more.

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By Eileen Fritsch

Many digital graphics companies have profitably diversified into décor, showing architects and interior designers what’s possible with short-run inkjet printing of wallcoverings, upholstery fabrics, tabletops, artwork, and flooring. Yet inkjet printing has barely scratched the surface of its potential in the massive décor market.

Now, developers of industrial inkjet printers are focused on building high-speed, application-specific printers for use by commercial manufacturers of products such as bed linens, upholstery, furniture, doors, flooring, countertops, wallpaper, decorative tile, and wall panels. Although industrial inkjet printers from companies such as Durst and EFI Cretaprint have already revolutionized ceramic tile decoration, tiles account for just a fraction of the interior surfaces that could be decorated with digital printing. As the manufacturers refine the single-pass technology that was first aimed at markets such as commercial printing and labels, they’ve set their sights on what may prove to be bigger game in the décor industry.

Consider just one of the many market segments that could be poised to adopt inkjet technology in a significant way: the decorative laminates used in walls, floors, ceilings, countertops, partitions, shelves, cabinets, doors, furniture, storage units, and much more. Laminate floors and countertops are manufactured to simulate the look of natural materials such as wood or stone, and are popular because they are more affordable, more durable, and easier to maintain. Plus, laminates made from recycled materials are attractive to builders, decorators, and building owners who care about stopping deforestation and conserving natural resources.

Printed décor is quite literally all around us, and the possibility of slicing lead times and run sizes makes inkjet an appealing option for today’s manufacturers. Courtesy of Industrial Inkjet.

You may not realize how prevalent laminates are until you start looking for them, as I did recently. I noticed that laminate panels are used on the reception desk, lockers, and bathroom countertops at my gym. My office desk is made from laminated wood. So are the bathroom stalls at the Mandalay Bay Hotel’s convention center in Las Vegas.

Because laminates are found in nearly every home, hotel, store, restaurant, and office building, they represent a huge opportunity for growth in industrial inkjet printing. To look at just one application, Global Industry Analysts projects that the global market for laminate flooring will reach 17.2 billion square feet by 2020, due to improving construction activity, technological advancements, and design innovations.


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