Today, new technology is fast on the uptake but slow on proper utilisation. In other words, while most consumers, businesses and even industries embrace new technologies relatively quickly, it takes a lot longer to discover its full potential.
This is understandable in many respects. We all have habits. As a result, we tend to use new innovations to match our habits and do what we’ve always done – only more efficiently and productively. But how often do we take the time to really understand what the technology is capable of? How often do we use our imaginations to explore what could be achieved if we matched our ideas, passions and ambitions with what technology enables? What if, instead of asking “what can technology do for me?” we asked “what can I do with this technology?”
Digital print in décor encompasses many of these issues and the digital décor landscape is advancing almost as fast as the technology enabling it. Trends in interior design, much like trends in fashion, change and evolve rapidly, and the pressure to keep up with these changes is moving digital printing technology closer to homes, offices and businesses from a commercial perspective. The effects of these shifts are obvious when we look around us: décor is becoming more customised and personalised. Even the walls of corporate offices and academic institutions are becoming more colourful extensions of the brands they represent.
How do commercial vendors capitalise on this opportunity? It helps to have an understanding of where your capabilities lie first. Wall murals and custom wallpaper are among the most obvious examples of custom décor treatments, but décor takes on many forms and can be printed on just about anything. Moreover, the ability to produce décor with the tools already at your disposal means that there are opportunities to expand your current market and increase profits.
What about industrial and functional print? The InPrint survey 20161 agrees that these forces are not shaping industrial print in the same ways. Largely, this is because there is less concern about the efficiency of a printing process when it is just one component of the entire manufacturing line. In the case of laminate flooring for example, the process of printing is a relatively small part of the entire production process, from stacking to milling and profiling. So the demand for ever increasing efficiency of print does not play out in the same way - until print becomes a bottleneck or end use market demands begin to change.
For commercial printers however, price pressure and competition can be taken advantage of with the right technology and tools. Digital technology is already allowing some print products to change, with versioning and personalisation becoming increasingly important. Moreover, exciting textures, finishes and displays can literally make or break sales. After all, it is not just the speed and functionality of digital print that inspires so many PSPs, but the fact that digital and UV print technology enables printing on almost anything. While specialist media has been inkjet receptive for years, in décor today, the tendency is to print on standard construction materials such as wood or tile, with no special coating necessary. The technology advancements that allow for this degree of flexibility are certainly awe-inspiring. And of course we should not forget what this technology enables us to do. Advances in both digital printing have allowed print shops to exercise their creativity and break into the wider world of décor. This attitude allows PSPs to break free of technical limitations and capabilities, and get back to what really matters: making an impact.