We’ve spent more than 45 years watching the printing industry evolve and learning from it. During these years, two things have been constant and those are the evolution of printing technologies and the growth of the printing market.
We’ve seen the steroid fuelled advancement of the inkjet technology as well as the development of laser printing. If you run a printing business or even a business which relies on in-house printing, then there’s merit in considering what the future of printing technology is.
Moreover, if you are a first adopter on the forefront, then there’s even more reason for you to know what lies in the future of printing industry. Here, we’ll try to get are predictive hats on and utilise our expertise and knowledge of the industry to give you a peak at the future of printing technology.
What Have Been The Recent Trends in Print Industry?
The biggest trend in the print industry has been the growth of digital printing. In fact, this is a long term trend that has really picked up in the last few years. Digital printing has grown to capture more than 50 percent of the printing market share shunting offset printing to the side.
Digital printing is basically the kind of printing that you do i.e. preparing images, templates, and documents digitally before sending them directly to the printer. The future of printing technology lies in digital printing because, according to tentative estimates, it grew by another 30 percent in the last year.
The growth of digital printing is evident also from the fact that colour printing has seen a rise in the last few years with inkjet printing growing leaps and bounds. By 2021, estimates say that the number of colour pages will touch 1.2 trillion pages globally!
What Is The Medium Term Future Of Printing Technology?
You can already see that a lot of what is going on in the printing industry has to do with inkjet colour technology. This is expected to continue because developments in the inkjet segment are much more frequent than in the laser segment.
However, if we go into specifics of the future of printing technology, then we’ll have to look into which areas will see the most growth. By this, we don’t mean geographical areas but technological subsets of printing technology. Consider the following.
Improved Finishing Options for Commercial Prints
Virtually every expert in the printing industry is predicting even greater advancements in the field of finishing options within the segment of commercial printing. There has already been a considerable increase in the frequency of innovations when it comes to the marketing and packaging sectors.
A lot of these innovations will have to do with surface finishing. There are now more surface finishing options like tactile variations and gloss finishes with multiple additional features. Basically, when it comes to surface finishing, the future of printing technology is heading towards greater specialisation.
This is expected to continue as the aim is to make commercial printing more effective from the angle of getting increased attention from potential end users. Furthermore, you can also expect more substrates (surfaces and materials) to be introduced into the mix for greater flexibility in the future of printing technology. Consider the fact that nylon was unheard of in the printing sector before but is accepted now.
The future of printing technology will also involve a tremendous focus on automating the whole printing process. Things like automatic document feeders and automatic duplexing are becoming more and more common in printers, these days. Even additional optional modules are being offered to increase productivity and collaboration.
Environment Friendly & Energy Efficient Features
As the world wakes up to the state of the global environment, there has been more focus on environmental friendliness and energy efficiency. The same has affected the printing industry and will affect the future of printing technology too.
You can already see that all major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have sections on their websites devoted to cartridge recycling.
Additionally, cartridge recycling is also being taken up by local organizations.
However, the real environment-related development from the angle of the future of printing technology will occur with the use of ink and toner inside the cartridges.
More and more printers are now sporting features that allow users to save ink and energy.
The future of printing technology is heading towards more efficient use of ink and toner. For instance, ink compositions have changed over time to prevent the drying up of the ink in the cartridge. This is being done to ensure that ink inside ink cartridges lasts longer while sealed inside the package or even installed in the printer.
Ink and toner particles and compositions are being reengineered to reduce power consumption and wastage while simultaneously increasing output. For example, toner particles are getting smaller and smaller to create more defined images as well as reduce the power consumption of the printer. Smaller particles melt more quicker, which means that less heat is required. Since less heat is needed, power consumption goes down as well.
Printing with light (in more ways than one)
Printing with light as a concept has only recently become a reality and is already set to revolutionize the printing industry. Traditional methods for in-person printing use lasers and heavy machinery to fabricate objects. However, printing with light puts this process on a more sustainable path.
This type of printing uses photonics phenomena where beams of UV laser light manipulate liquid resins into droplets at the nanoscale level. This means that the details can be reproduced accurately with no wastage or emissions. Thus well-suited for use in newsletters, posters, magazines, catalogs, broachers, leaflets, and more.
In addition, it’s much faster than conventional printing processes, allowing companies to cut back on time spent working with traditional printers. The future of print is brighter due to printing with light and its capacity for recyclability.
Moreover, it’s also far more environmentally friendly than traditional techniques that use resin and other toxic materials in their production.
As technological advances continue to streamline this process through advanced software and hardware integrations, we’re likely to see even more widespread use of printing using light sooner than later.
Manufacturing through 3D Printing
Till recent times, printing was always 2D. It was always paper, cardboard, labels, fabric, plastic, and metal that were printed. This means that everything was two dimensional. However, recently, a new application of printing has been created by simply turning two dimensional printing into three dimensional printing.
In other words, we now have 3D printing. For those of you who haven’t yet heard about 3D printing, let us explain quickly.
3D printing is printing that is done three dimensionally. This means that there is no substrate, ink, or toner. Everything is done in the air. In the simplest terms, 3D printing is creating products by printing them. A 3D printer does this by using specific materials in place of ink or toner and putting them together like a normal printer, except that it put layers on top of each other till they start thickening up. As a result, a digital image of a physical item can be converted into a real object.
Now, 3D printing has been used by many people for creating a variety of objects ranging from prosthetics to basic items. Moreover, even NASA has entered the game by considering 3D printing as a serious option when it comes to space exploration.
After all, being able to create spare parts in space is something that will actually prolong space travel and make it safer. A 3D printer can be considered to be a real life replicator from the series Star Trek. Imagine being able to say “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot” all of you Star Trek fans!
For 3D printing to come to that point, considerable advancements will have to be made. However, the future of printing technology lies as much in 3D printing as it does in 2D printing. As of right now, 3D printing is expensive and slow.
However, in the future of printing technology, these technological barriers are expected to be broken. This means that the future of printing technology holds developments that will result in 3D printing not only becoming cheaper but also considerably faster!
Who knows, this may even lead to 3D multifunction printers with faxing option. If this happens, you’ll be able to say “Beam me up, Scotty!”