By Industrial Print Staff
The Mack Brooks Exhibition Group held its InPrint USA Industrial Inkjet Conference in Chicago, IL, May 1 to 2, 2018 at the Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel. The organization’s goal is to inform, inspire, and educate. Co-founders Frazer Chesterman and Marcus Timson led the event with opening remarks that addressed the growing popularity of inkjet printing in manufacturing settings and the need to educate potential users on its capabilities. Advancements in printheads, ink chemistry, and single-pass technology make digital printing a viable option in many manufacturing environments.
Above: Mark Hanley, president, I.T. Strategies, held a presentation on industrial printing. Co founders Frazer Chesterman and Marcus Timson led the InPrint USA Industrial Inkjet Conference with opening remarks addressing the growing popularity of inkjet printing in manufacturing settings and the need to educate potential users on its capabilities.
Industrial Continues to Be Defined
Timson took the time to define industrial print. Still in its infancy, there are varied points of view on what it entails. For InPrint, industrial print is print part of the manufacturing process, whether functional, decorative, or packaging.
Mark Hanley, president, I.T. Strategies, furthered Timson’s definition of industrial printing during his presentation. It is a product that is manufactured or semi-manufactured that is also printed. Hanley stressed that print is only part of the manufacturing process in this instance.
Digital Print in Automotive
A portion of the conference included case studies of digital printing in manufacturing settings. For example, Steven Calov, Omnifire 4D product manager, Heidelberg USA, shared the story of Ritzi Automotive, a 100 year old company based in Germany. Working with Mini Cooper, it prints on the interior ring of the car’s speedometer. When pad and screen printing didn’t work, it turned to digital.
Two years into the digital process, which while fruitful was labor intensive, Mini Cooper increased volume. Ritzi knew it was time to move onto a more industrial printer. At the InPrint USA trade show in Orlando, FL in 2017 it happened upon Heidelberg, and more specifically the Heidelberg Omnifire 1000. The 4D direct to shape printer can print on round, cylindrical objects at 39x39x39 inches.
Ritzi took the plunge and implemented it into its production facilities, specifically using it for Mini Cooper. What was taking 25 minutes to print on the old digital device now took six minutes with the Omnifire 1000. Increased labor savings per shift was the result of one touch point instead of multiple. Mini Cooper’s capacity and deadlines were met.
While five percent of what Ritzi does today in house involves digital printing, the company sees potential in the technology, with a long-term goal of 25 percent of its work involving digital print. The Omnifire 1000 provides opportunity for further business beyond Mini Cooper as well.
Direct to Shape
Direct to shape printing was a focus at the conference. Ron Gilboa, group director, InfoTrends’ production technology advisory service, Keypoint Intelligence, addressed it in his talk. He identified two segments this hardware serves—high-end production in large volumes and smaller niche products. Where smaller niche products might involve trinkets like key rings or luggage tags, high-end production of bottles and cans is where large volume comes in.
Printing direct to bottles and cans presents a huge opportunity for manufacturers. Jim Lambert, VP of digital sales – ink and hardware, INX International, furthered the point in his presentation.
InPrint USA is slated to follow up its Orlando 2017 trade show with the event moving to Louisville, KY in 2019. Held April 9 to 11 at the Kentucky International Convention Center, we hope to see you there.
Sep2018, Industrial Print Magazine