Functional and industrial print is presenting exciting new market opportunities even as traditional print segments decline, according to the latest research from Smithers.
Its new market report, The Future of Functional and Industrial Printing to 2024 values the functional and industrial print to be $97.7 billion in 2019. This has risen at 11.9% year-on-year since 2014. Future strong growth of 7.0% per year is forecast to push this total to $136.8 billion in 2024 as the market begins to mature.
This exclusive study provides market data and insights into functional and industrial printing, segmented by print process, end-use application, and geographic regional/national market.
Asia is the largest producer region, reflecting the position of China and other newly industrialised countries in the region as centres of global manufacturing. The majority of technical innovation is centred on inkjet machinery. This is displacing various analogue printer systems and decisively shifting print cost dynamics especially for smaller run work.
The other drivers for industrial print and decoration vary according to the segment involved, but there are several common themes. There are innovative solutions for new applications and sectors, such as printed electronics and the solar power industry. Inkjet suppliers particularly are identifying industrial print as a new market with teams of researchers developing new fluids, methods of application, and integrated printing capabilities into many sectors.
Among the top market opportunities identified by Smithers’ exclusive in-depth industry research are:
Décor and laminate: Inkjet being adopted for multiple interior decoration applications – direct printing doors, flooring, wallcoverings, etc. A new set of high-speed single-pass systems will provide an increasingly viable alternative option to existing gravure platforms giving end users much greater choice and customisation.
Ceramics: Inkjet has already been adopted widely for use in ceramics printing, especially for interior décor applications. This position is now been developed to add superior functionality with innovative glazes and dimensional effects.
Electronics: Multiple new applications are being developed with a wider range of functional inks and fluids; though improved consistency in printing remains a key challenge to keep costs down.
Glass: Very large flatbed inkjet machines for flat glass decoration are now coming to market. Combined with associated handling and drying systems these are offering new solutions for eye-catching unique designs for the built environment.
Automotive: Improving production and the need to minimise weight is leading to wider use of functional printing at the luxury end of the car market, with for example printed OLED interior and exterior lighting panels. The largest volume market remains in printed interior materials in lower-cost vehicles. Inkjet is being explored as a potential to replace exterior paint and decals on cars, and this is spreading into aerospace and other transportation applications too.
Life Sciences and biomedical: Ageing populations in the developed are increasing demand for all healthcare, and in particular remote healthcare solutions that can monitor chronic geriatric conditions without direct intervention from clinicians. Many biosensors and medical devices that enable these can be printed – especially onto flexible substrates that adhere to the skin.
Functional and industrial print is also increasingly being used as in drug and tissue replacement manufacture.