The Imaging of Things
“There’s nothing our customers can’t print,” boasted a video that appeared before Scott Schinlever’s Wednesday morning keynote during the EFI Engage virtual users’ conference. The rest of his presentation on “The Imaging of Things” set about proving it.
From packaging to ceramic tiles, virtually every type of surface can now be digitally imaged, said Schinlever, COO of EFI’s global inkjet business – and EFI technologies are taking the lead in making this possible.
Schinlever spoke on the third day of the EFI Engage Conference, slated to run from Jan. 25-Feb. 5. It features a virtual exhibition hall, as well as more than 200 online conference sessions on a variety of topics. Learn more here.
In his presentation, Schinlever noted that the transition from offset to digital is still in its very early days, and listed five trends that are driving that transition:
- Versioning: the need to reach smaller audiences with targeted messages
- Online sales growth: this has exploded during the pandemic, and with it the opportunity for digital printing
- Social media: it is influencing customers and enabling marketing to micro-audiences
- Nearshoring: using geographically closer sources is enabling faster turnaround
- Environmental: the move toward printing only what is needed to avoid waste, and the transition to greener digital processes
Schinlever noted a consolidation in the sign and display market, with providers exploring adjacent markets like architectural graphics, simulated wood, directional signage and digital thermoforming, to name a few.
Digital printing of corrugated packaging, which he called “one of the most exciting growth opportunities,” currently makes up a scant 1% of all package printing, he contended. With online sales exploding, “the box is becoming a new branding platform,” he said – not just on store shelves but on front porches. Packaging, he said, has become an adjunct of display graphics in trying to catch people’s attention.
Schinlever noted that EFI is a leader in the textile-printing space with its Reggiani fabric printer. It is driving a resurgence in fabric printing in the Western world, fueled by the nearshoring trend. Not only does digital textile printing allow for faster turnaround, the process is much greener, generating less waste water than traditional methods.
In the ceramic printing space, Schinlever noted that 90% of that printing is now being done digitally. EFI will be introducing aqueous ceramic inks, which are more environmentally friendly than oil-based inks.
Single-pass digital printing is gradually replacing the hand-staining of wood, he added, though we are still in the early stages of this transition.
Schinlever’s presentation painted a picture of a market bursting with opportunities, all accessible through EFI technologies.
“There is so much opportunity that exists in this market,” he concluded, “and we are just at the beginning.”
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.