The Industrial inkjet sector is always looking at the next big thing that will revolutionize the industry. If you look at the lifecycle of the industry, inkjet technology has been the go-to option for cost-effective industrial printing across markets. The variety of printheads, inks, and solvents have allowed manufacturers to print on a wide variety of substrates. The home improvement market has been one of the main focuses in recent years. For example, printing on ceramics like tiles used for outdoor, kitchen, bathroom, and general flooring applications.
When you think about it, the ability to print on ceramics was ready well before they started doing it. Ceramics became a huge hit for the European ad Chinese inkjet manufacturing communities.
So, what’s next?
1. Labels – Could labels be the next big thing? That market is pretty much saturated and it hasn’t shown much success for inkjet.
2. Direct-to-Product – Maybe the direct-to-product industry will be next. This area is evolving, but it’s slowly moving forward, which means it will likely be some time before it comes to fruition. The direct-to-product concept involves printing on a large range of things in all kinds of shapes and sizes. That requires each inkjet printer to be specifically customized to suit the variety of shapes and sizes for printing.
3. Laminates & Décor – Perhaps laminates and décor products will be the next big thing. While there is a big interest in this segment, it’s currently too varied in nature. The expense, speed, and size of such equipment and technology is the biggest issue with this segment.
4. Wallpaper – Wallpaper is the winner for the next big thing in industrial inkjet printing. Industry experts believe inkjet printer wallpaper has the best chance of making a splash on the market. There is already a strong draw in this market for digital wallpaper printing. They are already enthusiastically looking for the technology that will make this efficient and cost-effective.
The European market for wallpaper has shown a steady decline since 2006, so what would make manufacturers want to move for digital printing in this segment? It’s the decline that makes them want to refresh the market with digital designs for more choices and to attract famous designers to the table.
The big issue with this is that the lengths of runs will become shorter. They will need to deal with this effectively and efficiently to cut the set-up time, the tooling costs, and waste. Wallpaper manufacturers understand that new technology to produce their designs is needed, therefore digital is their best and most compelling option.
Digital wallpaper is already available in smaller forms like murals that cover a part of or a whole wall. These are mostly used to create a feature wall in a house, apartment, or business office. It’s especially popular with kids’ rooms and characters from their favorite cartoons and children’s movies.
The market for digital wallpaper is huge and there are about 300 manufacturers worldwide that can mass produce wallpaper. The technical challenges are still in need of resolving, but it’s well underway, according to industrial inkjet experts. You could see digital wallpaper on the market in the near future.