Keep an eye out for the International Centre for Manufacture by Printing (icmPrint), a new resource for tech developments across the full spectrum of everything that now fits the definition of “print.”
For the time being, you will have to get to know icmPrint by visiting the web sites of its two component organizations, Print Process Champions and the Advancing Printing Network of the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) within Swansea University’s College of Engineering. The two are being combined as one entity that will have its own online presence in support of its mission, the advancement of printing science.
The scope of the mission by printing process is broad—offset, flexo, gravure, screen, pad, inkjet, aerosol, and 3D—but the knowledge base that icmPrint intends to build doesn’t stop there. Publications, packaging, security, fabrics, ceramics, product decoration, polymer electronics, biosensors, and wearable technology also are subject-matter areas that icmPrint will serve as a repository and a clearing-house for.
icmPrint says that when it is fully commissioned, it will provide its members with an expert network for information-sharing “at a relatively low cost.” Knowledge is to be disseminated through consulting, webinars, workshops, live events, newsletters, and downloadable guides and reports.
Both parts of icmPrint bring an abundance of resources to the joint effort. Inspired by the Web Offset Champion Group (WOCG), a consortium for best practices since 1998, the not-for-profit Print Process Champions aims to help its members optimize print production from start to finish. The benefits of membership, which is open to all members of the industry, include practical information in many forms: publications, case studies, environmental advice, and updates about ongoing research projects. Most of the information is free to download thanks to the support of sponsors like Kodak, Muller Martini, and manroland web systems.
The Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating is known as Canolfan Argraffu a Chaenu Cymru in its home country’s language. Founded 1994 by Prof. Tim Claypole and Prof. David Gethin, the WCPC is a research institution that collaborates with other institutions, companies, and groups in projects around graphics and packaging (conventional production), functional print (e.g., printed electronics and biosensors) and 3D printing. It hosts workshops, a summer school, and an annual technical conference to report the findings of its research into printing technologies.
icmPrint’s charter is ambitious, but the expertise and the resources behind it seem to be more than equal to the task it has set for itself. It’s good to see a new organization with a plan to fill some of the void left by the passing of the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation, which was for many years the industry’s premier source of practical research until its absorption and elimination by Printing Industries of America. We’ll follow up with more news about icmPrint as it goes forth as a unified and fully functioning organization.