InPrint 2018 Recap

Wide format’s future in the industrial inkjet market.

“How willing are we to change? How open-minded are we? How focused are we on productivity? Does our culture enable innovation?” These are the questions Marcus Timson, co-founder, InPrint, posed to a room of industry analysts, manufacturers, and print shops interested in learning about industrial inkjet printing.

These questions lingered during this year’s InPrint Industrial Inkjet Conference, May 1-2 in Chicago, as guests attended general sessions, breakout tracks, and networking events related to the growing market.

So, as you ask yourself these questions, we’ll provide you with some answers received during the event. 

Value

Where is there value in dipping your toes, or taking a full dive, in the industrial inkjet market?

“The value is flexibility, not necessarily customization or personalization,” said Timson at the beginning of the conference. But as more industry analysts shared their thoughts, it became apparent that flexibility and customization go hand in hand as a value add to both you and your customer. See below for some top takeaways:

Innovation with Personalization – Chris Medrano, business development manager, Roland DGA 

  • Personalization is boundless. 
  • Personalization increases customer engagement and spending by 20-30 percent.
  • Advancements in digital printing are changing the personalization industry. Products can be finished at the local level in a cost effective, repeatable, and scalable fashion in ways not possible five years ago. 
  • Personalization offers a premium price, customer engagement, social media sharing, market research, and just-in-time manufacturing.

The Market and the Innovative Digital Technologies that Make an Impact – Ron Gilboa, group director of InfoTrend’s production technology advisory service, Keypoint Intelligence

  • Mass customization is one of the trends driving the demand that is being addressed by digital printing.
  • With mass customization, the value goes up as the volume goes down. With mass production, cost per piece goes down when the run length goes up.

Industrial Print Opportunities in Décor – Rachel Nunziata, product development manager, 4 Walls, Big Picture Beyond Décor columnist

  • Short-run or mass customization is possible due to digital print technology. 
  • More design, more possibilities.

Limitations

While there are opportunities (see below) and major value to investing in the industrial inkjet printing market, there are also challenges.

Customer Perspectives on the Hurdles Facing Digital Production Implementation in the Wallcoverings Industry – Wade Neff, strategic business unit manager, signage and large format printing, Strategic Factory

  • There are negative customer perceptions, technical limitations, and an overall lack of understanding of the wallcoverings space.

Industrial Inkjet: Still the Rising Star of Print Technology? – Marcus Timson

  • The US is slow to adopt industrial inkjet printing.

M&A Activity in the North American Industrial Inkjet Market – Kenneth D. Stack, president, Proximus, M&A, Venture Capital

  • I think the décor market is far bigger, especially in Europe, than the industrial 2.0 market.

30 Applications in 60 Minutes – Mark Abramson, founder/CEO, Printform 

  • A lot of people in this industry fear sharing proprietary information.

Apply It

So, if you see the value and understand there may be challenges along the way, what applications should wide-format printers interested in the industrial inkjet market explore?

According to those attending InPrint: packaging, interior décor, and textiles are no-brainers.

Décor opportunities, according to Nunziata: architectural materials, rigid substrates, wallcoverings, fabrics, flooring, soft goods, and furniture in commercial healthcare and hospitals, consumer license home décor lines, and brands market segments.

Stack says print shops should expand in the textiles and corrugated markets. “Textiles have dominated since 2014. It’s a large, growing, and profitable market, and ideal for participation,” he said. “The corrugated market is clearly here, too. There are no debates.”

Gilboa suggests package printing. “The digital packaging market is dynamic and evolving,” he said. “Brands push for operational efficiency and targeted marketing.” This includes interactive printing on packaging so brands can change messaging within hours, not weeks.

  • “Understand and invest in your workflow. Never stop looking for and unclogging bottlenecks in your own business.” –Mark Abramson 
  • “Innovation takes persistence.” –Frazer Chesterman, co-founder, InPrint 
     
  • “Digitally printed wallcoverings mean faster turnaround time, which means reduced labor, facility, and storage overhead.” –Wade Neff

The annual event will take place in Louisville, Kentucky, April 9-11, 2019.

theMart

While in the Windy City, Editor-in-Chief Adrienne Palmer was able to explore theMart, the world’s largest commercial building, wholesale design center that houses luxury kitchen, bath, home, and outdoor furnishing showrooms and 15 major tradeshows, including the upcoming commercial design industry event NeoCon. The building spans two city blocks and 25 stories, with one floor completely dedicated to textiles. 

Some showrooms don’t currently offer digitally printed textiles: “We know it’s trending, but it’s just not our thing right now. Maybe down the road,” said one employee. Others boasted their digitally printed designs and the opportunity to customize for their clients. “You can print on textiles for lampshades, furniture, pillows, wallcoverings. There’s a lot of versatility,” said Melissa Vargas, Donghia.  

Ironically enough, one employee of The Romo Group was busy taking down old wallpaper while she touted the pros of digital wallcoverings’ removability. “Vinyl just comes off so easily,” Colette Conway said. 

For live updates from industry conferences and shows around the world, follow Editor-in-Chief Adrienne Palmer and Big Picture magazine on Twitter.