New PRIMIR Study Spotlights Inkjet Market Potential
Many companies, small and large, are investing in inkjet technology R&D to develop systems for graphic arts, packaging, and other markets. To gauge the upside potential of this technology, PRIMIR commissioned I.T. Strategies of Hanover, MA, to produce a study focusing on Trends in Inkjet Technologies 2006-2011.
The study, which has been released exclusively to the members of PRIMIR, targeted five key markets including Display Signage, Graphic Arts, Packaging, Decorative/Textiles, and Manufacturing/Deposition.
According to I.T. Strategies, there is no doubt that inkjet technology will play a major role in these markets, driven by the process advantages it will offer, and its ability to meet user performance requirements. Less certain is when the impact of inkjet technology will be felt.
Why inkjet? Inkjet is the only digital printing technology potentially able to match analog print throughput and quality, while providing all the process advantages of digital printing. In addition, inkjet provides a combination of linear speed and print widths far exceeding the capabilities of electrophotography. Inkjet prints on a wide range of substrates, making it the future technology choice for the markets covered in the PRIMIR report.
There are three primary types of inkjet technology: Thermal, Piezoelectric (piezo), and Continuous. While PRIMIR expects all three to play a role in future commercial and industrial markets, piezo inkjet technology may hold the most growth potential and ability to address new markets, due to its ability to jet a much broader range of ink chemistry than either thermal or continuous inkjet. Piezo inkjet technology generates minimal heat, consumes less power and has a longer life – of special importance for high-volume industrial-type applications.
Many NPES members are involved in the complicated process of developing an inkjet system for new markets and applications:
• Inkjet head manufac-turers build the print engine, which can be complete, stand-alone and self contained, or it may be a semi-manufactured non-standalone module or part for integration into a large system. There are two types of inkjet head manufacturers: primary market head manu-facturers, such as HP, Canon, Epson, and Lexmark that sell heads in large quantities primarily into home/consumer applications; and secondary market head manufacturers, such as Fujifilm Spectra/ Dimatix, Konica Minolta, Panasonic Communications Company and Toshiba TEC, that do not have large base markets and in almost every case sell their products into custom applications and to new customers.