Looking For Sustainable Values
ME Printer’s contributing editor and publisher of Globalprintmonitor.info Sabine Slaughter is a regular visitor to SGI. Here are her impressions from a show that is now more focused on environmental issues.
Once again, SGI proves its worth to everyone involved within the signage and other wide format as well as digital textile markets in the region and beyond. A raving success now for 17 years SGI has grown more and more into a show not to be missed.
While over the last years speed and quality have been addressed comprehensively and are still part of the mix of decisive factors for investment another important not to be forgotten topic has emerged: environmentally friendliness and sustainability.
The large format market, once dominated by solvent and later on eco-solvent solutions apart from UV printing now moves towards greener pastures with the introduction of Latex and UV LED inks. Those inks promise a great future that will make the move towards an environmentally friendly surrounding much easier.
While Latex inks already display many advantages for print service providers and clients alike, such as lower curing technologies thus requiring less energy and are able to be applied to a multitude of biodegradable and environmentally friendly certified substrates among others; the appearance of UV LED technology has already left its marks in the industry.
In comparison with conventional UV curing, UV LEDs not only require less energy during the curing process, they also emit far less heat – only around 25-30 degrees Celsius thus making them ideal to be used in conjunction with biodegradable, environmentally friendly substrates.
As those UV LEDs also have an up to ten times higher lifetime than conventional lamps and no VOCs are emitted they not only add to workplace safety. Both technologies – UV LED and Latex – are currently considered the most environmentally friendly solutions that have come to light in the past years. However, one is not allowed to forget that ink is only one of the elements in the whole process – so environmentally friendly and sustainable substrate solutions are a must for printers that want to differentiate themselves by offering greener solutions to their clients and thus again raise their business offerings.
Another big topic seen at the show is digital textile printing. This market is set to grow by 24%/year from a volume of 310 mio sqm in 2013 to 733 mio sqm in 2017, according to J. Notermans from SPGPrints at the recent IMI conference. This is not much considering the whole market size in 2013 is considered to be 30,000 mio sqm, but while the overall growth is only projected with 1.2%/year the amount that will be printed digitally will experience an exponential growth. Several manufacturers at the show are presenting solutions that enable print service providers to partake in this market.
On the other hand, one is not allowed to forget that a new machine does not automatically mean that business will be growing. Any investment into new machinery needs to be carefully analyzed whereby projected growth, existing and possible new client potential as well as business structure need to be taken into account. With Expo 2020 in Dubai around the corner growth and business possibilities for local and regional print shops look promising.