Corporate printing: This time it’s personalised
It’s always good to get out of the office for the afternoon to attend an event. Whilst it’s all well and good producing work and reading online, there’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in the design world and seeing what goes on behind the scenes.
I recently visited the Sign & Digital show at the NEC to see what was happening in the world of printing. Whilst it may not seem directly design related, we regularly produce print materials for clients, so it’s good to know about the latest innovations and trends so that we can suggest something a little more exciting for their upcoming projects.
Walking around the hall, what quickly became apparent is that there is some impressive machinery out there. Sublimation printers that use heat instead of water to transfer dyes; heat presses that print metallic foil onto materials quickly and easily; and UV LED printers that use UV lights to dry the ink, meaning less parts and higher quality printing.
Other innovations that caught my attention were the new inks available for printing. I’d always wondered why there was no white cartridge for printers, but now there is. Whilst it may not be readily available for consumer printers, it will make printing much more flexible and cost effective for bigger printers. There is also a metallic ink, containing aluminium pigments. Again, it sounds strange, but this will make the printing metallic process quicker, more flexible and more affordable.
Affordable printing was the general theme of most stalls at the event. One printer operated with lower ink levels, but still maintained the high quality of the image. Another was able to print two roller banners and a flat sheet at the same time, reducing production times considerably.
The other hot topic that everyone was talking about at the event was personalisation. Thanks to the internet and a rise in cheaper printing solutions, people can now get personalised clothing, stationery, homewares and any manner of objects personalised with a quick turnaround at an affordable rate.
Amazon have recently launched a new website called Amazon Merch that allows companies and individuals to upload their own artwork and sell personalised products. Although websites such as Redbubble and Spreadshirt offer this service, Amazon is already a giant online, and with the likes of Marvel, Disney and Universal also selling on the Amazon Merch website, it’s likely to further solidify its industry leading position.
As well as the big names like VistaPrint and Moonpig offering personalised products, smaller companies are also able to offer the same services, sometimes quicker and cheaper. This means that rather than personalised items being the novelty, companies are now having to find new ways to make their offerings stand out, whether it’s through printing techniques like spot UV and metallic inks, or printing on different materials such as fabric and metal.
With all these exciting resources becoming available at the click of a button, it’s easier than ever for people to get personalised products and we can expect some exciting innovations in the coming years.