Inkjet printing has captured some key markets along the way. Billboards are now almost all digitally printed. Ceramic tiles are now inkjet printed.
There are markets where digital printing is emerging. Packaging is a segment; textiles are another, as is direct-to-object printing.
With its new InterioJet printer, Agfa is making a name for itself in the wood lamination sector. The InterioJet 3300 printer, which recently received an award from the European Digital Press Association (EDP) in the Industrial Print & Finishing Solutions category, uses Agfa’s water-based inks for short and medium runs of paper decor for laminate surfaces.
Mike Horsten, Agfa’s commercial director for InterioJet, noted that Agfa serves a very large and diverse set of printing markets, including commercial, newspaper and packaging printers. For sign and display printing businesses, Agfa sells fully integrated large format inkjet printing systems, consisting of printers, workflow software and assorted inks.
The InterioJet 3300 printer belongs to the industrial inkjet category and is an interesting segment with many unique applications.
“Our Industrial Inkjet business unit focuses on inkjet applications where printing is part of an industrial production process,” said Horsten. “We take an integrated solution approach (printer, workflow, inks) in some cases, and an inks-only approach in other cases. In all cases, we are in contact with the target industry to ensure that our solutions correspond to their needs and their economy. »
The latest addition to Agfa’s industrial printing offering is the InterioJet for hard surface HPL (High Pressure Laminate).
“InterioJet is a printing system for the HPL (High Pressure Laminate) surface market,” said Horsten. “That means, flooring, kitchen cabinets, siding, furniture and other hard surfaces that you would see around you today. Currently we are just beginning the conversations in the Americas and TISE is the first place where Agfa will be exhibiting with this technology. However, we have already installed several systems around the world, in China, Russia and Belgium.
Horsten observed that digital printing for laminated surfaces has key benefits, including faster time to market for new designs; the ability to produce smaller lots from 1m² to over 100,000m², including trial lots for sampling; eliminating the need to create expensive gravure rollers by design; reduce production time and costs; immediate transition to the next design; and be able to retrieve inventory.
Horsten said the InterioJet system was designed on the production side, not the printer side.
“We believe that to facilitate the transition from analog to digital, we need to adapt the digital workflow to the analog workflow,” he noted. “We are only a small part of the manufacturing process, so we have to comply. Using the same color gamut inks as gravure, using the same impregnation paper that laminate manufacturers are familiar with, and using the same type of workflow makes InterioJet unique in the industry. ‘industry.
Agfa has developed water-based inks for InterioJet, and Horsten said they offer many benefits to printers.
“InterioJet water-based inks are binder-free, giving the melamine resins easy access to the paper without blocking from the inks filming creating a barrier,” Horsten said. “This results in better impregnation and faster work processes. Because of this we can use lighter paper and therefore less melamine impregnation is needed per m²/sqf, which is a direct saving to the manufacturer’s bottom line.
“Additionally, the inks use the default gravure colors used in decor printing,” he added. “This allows the printer to generate the same quality images and color gamut they have experienced throughout the years of rotogravure.”
While noting that this is a new market, Horsten sees a lot of potential for digital printing.
“Digital technology is coming in and we believe we’ve overcome the challenges with the industry,” Horsten said. “The result is that we are now accelerating and bringing this technology to a market that has been waiting for digital conversion. Do I foresee growth? Indeed! The billions of m² printed today are ready to be converted.