There’s no denying the fact that 3D printing has captured the imagination. From big businesses searching for new, innovative ways of working through to entrepreneurs getting their creative brains around the potential of the technology, the sector is enjoying big growth. According to figures reported by 3Dprint.com, this $11 billion industry will be worth a cool $26.7 billion as soon as 2019.
Yet this is far from the only ‘game in town’ in the printing industry. 3D might be growing but there are other innovations in the market that are having a big impact on the ways companies plan and deliver their tasks.
Here are three that you should watch out for in the coming years.
Technology is flexing its muscles and reaching out far beyond its traditional remit. Now, businesses are looking to use ‘smart packaging’ to enhance the products they are offering. This innovation allows the packaging containing a product to do much more than simply ‘contain’ it. Elements such as QR codes already allow buyers to scan packaging for more information, but this is being taken further to reach out to customers in a more interactive way. Italian pasta maker Brilla has trialled such smart packaging. It has produced limited edition boxes of farfalle pasta with special QR codes which, once scanned, link to images of the farm and families who produced it and information on the region, harvest and other varieties – all aimed at enhancing the customer experience and forging a closer bond between the brand and buyer.
It’s not just what’s printed that counts, it’s also what it’s printed on. Big businesses need their bold imagery to feature on billboards and the side of vehicles as they aim to turn the heads of the right people in the right place. That requires printers with a greater capability and flexibility. One form of technology that aims to deliver that is latex printing. While still being perfected, such printerscater for the range of surfaces and scales that companies desire.
Sometimes, to ‘think big’ you have to ‘think small’. Nanography is the use of ultra small particles of ink to deliver printing at the quality, speed and cost effectiveness that businesses have been unable to find with the traditional suite of options. When harnessed by the sort of web pressunveiled by Landa at the recent drupa conference in Germany, this technology is of great commercial value – combining the strengths of offset and digital printing. In fact, the €450 million worth of orders placed at drupa shows the level of interest in the industry for Nanographic printing presses.
Whether it’s what is printed, what it’s printed on or the technology behind how it’s printed, the latest innovations are helping to drive through change in the printing industry well beyond the headline grabbing world of 3D. Indeed, the practical benefits of smart packaging, latex and Nanography have the potential to be even more transformative for businesses as they themselves strive to be quicker, better and more cost effective in what they do.