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Printing for purposes other than communication

Published 31/01/2014 by Anita Teleman

Despite a reduction in the use of paper, printers are experiencing high demand and printing presses have been used for some time now to apply printing other than text and colour images to surfaces. This could involve applying protective coatings, building up a three-dimensional structure, security printing, QR codes or some other advanced function. Rapid progress is being made within the field of functional printing. How does functional printing create added value for the customer? Can a normal printing press be used, or are modifications required? Answering these questions is essential to success.

I see a number of promising functional printing techniques, both now and in the future.

Printed barriers
Here at Innventia, we have recently embarked on a project in which we are using printing presses to apply a moisture barrier. Using one of the printing units within the existing printing process to create a barrier offers a process engineering advantage. Another advantage of using a printing press is that the barrier can be applied with precision in a pre-determined position on the surface.

3D printers
This technology is evolving quickly, and some people are even referring to it as the second industrial revolution. Is this a technological shift that will transform jobs, or is it just a limited phenomenon? The technology makes it possible to create individual unique models, both quickly and cost-effectively. Imagine a time when we'll be able to print out demonstrators of our new biocomposites using a 3D printer!

Inkjet printing on textiles
An inkjet printer transfers ink onto a clearly defined position and at the correct quantity. This ink can contain a function, for example making the surface resistant to water, bacteria or dirt. How's that for added value! It could also be used to create coloured textiles. This allows resources to be used more effectively, using less energy and water, with more effective use of chemicals, resulting in less waste, shorter change-over times and shorter production runs. Here at Innventia, we believe we have an excellent opportunity to contribute towards a sustainable future.

Electronic printing on paper
Just imagine printing electronically in the same way as a newspaper press – roll to roll, at thirty miles an hour! At Innventia, we're working with our partners to investigate the possibility of using paper as a substrate, or even integrating electronics with paper.

There has certainly been a great deal of progress within printing, both here on the home front and at work. Will there be a 3D printer in every home one day? Printing functionality offers excellent expansion opportunities for the traditional graphic industry.

Being involved in the development of functional printing is fascinating. At the same time, I'm convinced that paper will remain as a medium for communication during my lifetime, albeit with a smaller share of the media society. It's encouraging that packaging surfaces are becoming ever more important in terms of communication and as the carriers of different functions. Printed security functions allow us to feel confident that the packaging contains the correct medication, and that goods are genuine. Here at Innventia, we can offer many interesting solutions, both now and in the future. 

Anita Teleman Innventia
Anita Teleman is Research Manager of Printing Solutions at Innventia

Anita Teleman
+46 8 676 7474
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