Tom Cloots - Manager Marketing Industrial Inkjet - discusses Agfa Graphics' involvement in industrial inkjet printing
At InPrint 2016 in Milan, Agfa Graphics will display a wide selection of industrial products that are digitally printed.
Tell us more about Agfa and your involvement in industrial printing?
The story of Agfa is about the history of imaging technology really. Agfa Graphics is a supplier to the printing industry with prepress equipment, printing plates, software as well as wide-format inkjet printing solutions including software. Color, inks and printing are in the DNA of our company. That know-how is the reason for our activities in the budding industrial printing market.
How important is industrial printing to the future of the business?Industrial printing is a quite general term and embraces many technologies. In fact it has very little in common with the conventional printing industry except for the fact that it revolves around the process of putting ink on a substrate. It is certain though that it will change many existing processes while creating even new ones. Manufacturing of products has already drastically changed thanks to the introduction of printing (parts of) pieces.What products do you have which could be classified as industrial printing?As a supplier to the industry we help industries to reduce total production time (and save money), as well as to create completely new products. Our various ink technologies are important enablers to reach these targets. High-density UV inks allow for printing on a wide range of substrates as part of the manufacturing process of doors or table tops for example. Our low-migration inks are used to print directly on food containers or plastic bottles, offering more flexibility in the choice of images, the run lengths and personalization. It must be mentioned that some of our wide-format printing equipment is used to print industrial applications – either inline or in-house – and we offer workflow and color management expertise to manage color consistency across various substrates.
Agfa is committed to industrial inkjet. Do you see a future where inkjet has replaced existing analog technologies across the industrial spectrum?
As a technology supplier we experience that new technologies are being used widely today. The end user may never know even what process is used to manufacture or decorate products. The laminate flooring and tiling industry have already made huge steps in converting to new digital functional printing alternatives. The decoration industry is also offering a wide range of new products -- take personalized wall paper as an example. And in packaging, which is closest to conventional printing, digital alternatives are typically (but not solely) used for promotional purposes on consumer products. It is a good sign that most industries have moved from debating inkjet technology and its performance to understanding how inkjet will be used optimally for their applications.
Agfa is an InPrint Sponsor. To what extent do you believe that the InPrint show is important to the development of industrial print?
There is a clear demand to lower stocks, to offer personalized products and to be able to follow industry and fashion trends. In essence we all aim at doing things smarter and more targeted to the end user. With inkjet printing technology and a lot of creativity, it is possible to re-think existing workflows and create new opportunities. We believe that the InPrint show, with its strong focus on innovation, creates the necessary platform where industry leaders meet and experience how to integrate new technologies in a manufacturing process.