In just a short period inkjet has come to dominate ceramic tile production, but what is behind the technology and what will come next? Steve Knight from TheIJC explores some of the technologies beneath the covers.
As is the case with many technologies, inkjet was not invented for ceramic tile production. Even the inkjet architecture used for ceramics was typically developed for other applications, but bringing these technologies together and exploiting them for ceramic tile production has revolutionised an industry.
Today we have a wide range of high quality, high performance inkjet printers; proven industrial machines capable of run in an industrial production environment, but what will follow? What is the next step of this rapidly evolving technology? And how will it impact the ceramic market?
Many inkjet printers are being run in a standalone mode, operating small batch production without being fully integrated to the image database and ERP systems. This is a digital production tool being used in a traditional manufacturing environment. Over time this may change with structured databases and specialist imaging software producing true on demand specialist customised design, maybe for high fashion houses maybe for corporate branding; maybe just on demand replacement for a specific archived image. What we will see as inkjet continues to evolve is a broader integration of inkjet into a truly digital manufacturing process. We will see the box printed with the tile image, we will see digital inspection, we will see far reaching changes to the business structure and operation.
Some of these changes will be driven by evolution in the core technologies: Specialist software screening technologies enhancing image quality, hardware acceleration of imaging software to drive the ever increasing demand to image processing, developments in ink and ink chemistry, and as always developments in printheads and their electronics.
Although it can take several years for developments in the core technologies to become available to the market, we explore them all at The Inkjet Conference. This two-day two-track event attracts the leading development engineers and those affected by the disruptive nature of this technology from many different market sectors. Focusing on inkjet engineering and inkjet chemistry TheIJC welcomes delegates from leading brand owners and fashion houses planning the future of their products. From packaging and print to ceramics and textile, The Inkjet Conference is where you can see the future of digital product.
About the author:
Steve Knight has a background in electronic engineering and has been involved in the development support, sales and marketing of disruptive technology to industries using imaging technology since 1986. Steve has worked for leading companies in a variety of roles in global positions as well as consulting for numerous companies on the development and launch of digital print equipment.
Meet the author of this article and other industry leaders at The Inkjet Conference in Düsseldorf, 7-8th October 2015, www.theijc.com