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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

Sal Sheikh predicts that the flatbed UV market will grow in the coming year for four main reasons. First, there will be transfers from older to newer printing technologies. Users will realize productivity gains and cost savings without sacrificing quality. Second, new applications use flatbed printers—applications such as packaging for variable-data, short runs, and prototyping. Third, traditional signage applications will contribute to UV’s growth as more prints are made directly on a rigid substrate. And fourth, more flatbed UV inkjet printers will become available, especially at entry levels.

Eric Matsumoto agrees that many screen-printing applications are switching to UV inkjet technology.

Lean manufacturing
The industry is headed into lean manufacturing. Chase Roh says more than 60% of garment printers plan to adopt the direct-to-garment printer approach and that the new generation of printers for garments is much more productive.

Bacon and many of the others agree that lean is the way to go to control the cost of manufacturing. Danielle Mattiussi adds that from a software perspective, customers are looking at ways to automate every facet of production.

Continued reduction of the labor force remains a component of cost controls for printers. As new manufacturing methods, such as cellular manufacturing, digital printing, and fabrication are added, the speed and accuracy increase. Giesler sees a shift in the future back to more domestic manufacturing as these changes take place, as opposed to outsourcing or off-shore printing. However, he also sees consolidation of companies and assets in the future.

Juergen Roesch explains that print shops are looking to integrate all shop-handling processes connected to MIS: inventory, ordering scheduling, cost control, and billing—and if you can add automation, centralize color management, and create color appearance across all devices, digital or not, you can stay on top of all operations.

Dealers and shops are looking at scalable solutions, Roesch adds—tools that work modularly, are easy to operate, and can be extended to multiple production sites. The flexibility to expand or contract to fit the economic situation is needed now more than ever.

Wherein lies the promise of growth? “Customization, localization, and the ability to change labels dynamically is creating a while new market for label printing,” Jim Lambert says.


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