As drupa fast approaches – in fact it’s only 41 days away now – I’m curious to discover how many exhibitors will be featuring some of the exciting new applications that are currently on a rapid rise in the interior décor and textile printing sectors. It’s an area that has sparked my interest recently, as I’ve been more immersed in these industry sectors, and it never ceases to amaze me just what is now possible by the constant innovation of wide format digital inkjet printing. I’ve even been able to pass on some tips in relation to architectural films to a friend who’s currently in the throes of a ‘Grand Design’ project, and I’m likely to see the end result of these digitally printed films in-situ very soon.
Some of the pre-drupa information that has passed across my desk corroborates what I already know, that inkjet has not only revolutionised ceramic tile printing for example, but is having a huge effect on other industrial decoration applications such as flooring, wallcoverings, and so on. It’s clear that it offers opportunities for expansion for print providers who may not have considered these areas and are brave enough to explore the potential of new markets and the additional revenue streams they could provide. What new developments will be on show at Messe Dusseldorf in terms of printheads, inks, substrates and workflow which could ultimately impact these sectors?
Looking at annoucements from ESMA – the European Specialist Printing Manufacturers Association – one of their pavilions will be completely given over to functional and industrial printing, with member companies highlighting various exciting new technologies for different applications, including decoration techniques for glass and other rigid materials, and ‘smart tags, smart sensors, flexible and washable conductive inks’ for use in the textile industry. Even flexible OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes) will be on show, integrated in fabric to demonstrate the potential for smart textiles and wearables.
Industrial and functional is taking print to yet another level, but walking the halls (make sure you have your comfy shoes on!) will show us exactly where the different exhibitors are looking to ‘touch the future’ and I for one, expect to see more solutions appropriate for printed interiors and textiles then ever before.