In an article published in November, 2016 on IndustrialPrintMagazine.com (Looking at Industrial Inkjet in Composite – Major Opportunities), author Tim Greene states that inkjet printing is not only driving value within the proofing and short-run models in print but is causing manufacturers to rethink how they produce materials.
“From a technical standpoint one of the key advantages of using inkjet is that it is a non-contact printing technology, which allows for printing onto surfaces and substrates that tend to be highly variable such as ceramic tiles.” — Tim Greene, Research Director – Hardcopy Solutions at IDC
In fact, over the last 10 years, the production of ceramic tiles has shifted dramatically toward digital inkjet printing. Mr. Greene indicates that the creation of rugged inkjet printheads able to jet a wider range of materials with accuracy, at faster frequencies, and with much greater reliability is beginning to penetrate the production sides of other industrial markets as well. Examples include:
- Textile Printing: Growth of e-commerce and fast fashion companies such as Uniqlo and H&M has spurred the use of inkjet for garment printing as a more efficient manufacturing process to more quickly update inventories. Other high-end brands in the fashion industry like Dolce & Gabbana and Hermes routinely offer inkjet printed fashions to their customers as inkjet printing allows designers to test ideas and get products to market faster using a much cleaner production process.
- Ceramics, Wallcoverings and Laminates: Like ceramic tile, digital inkjet printing provides these manufacturers huge efficiencies in the supply chain.
- Packaging: Each of the major packaging segments – corrugated, label and flexible, folding carton, and bottles and cans – are witnessing the benefits of utilizing new inkjet technologies. Products marketed by Fujifilm that are designed to impact two of these are Graphium (label and flexible) and the J Press 720S (folding carton).
“Printhead advancements continue to allow for more robust applications, and with that comes a wider range of inks and handling systems that allow for not only expanded capabilities but the ability to seamlessly fit inkjet into the manufacturing process.” — Rebecca McConnell, Fujifilm Product Manager
Spurring the analog-digital conversion dynamic advancements is the increased use of MEMS technology in printhead technology development. This silica-based technology delivers a cohesive “printhead on a chip” unit instead of a collection of individual mechanical parts that are glued together, important to manufacturers used to uninterrupted, high-speed production processes.