|Screenprinting will always
be around in some form or another. There are a number of old and new
techniques that have shrunk the screenprinting slice of the pie.
Digital printing has eaten into the traditional screenprinting
small run large format work. The turn around time for digital is
far quicker and less expensive than that for screenprinting these
small specialized runs.
Digital also allows the customer the versatility of
changing point-of-sales promotions and other poster type advertising
very quickly and at a higher frequency. Besides the very high cost
of digital ink, the speed at which the various machines can print
is the main limiting factor of digital printing.
Current trends in increasing the computing ability
that control the print heads are currently underway. Once the computing
ability has been sufficiently increased, the ink prices will drop
(as they are already) and screenprinting industries will experience
a further loss of business.
However, currently longer runs are still more economical
using screens than digital.
Litho printing of longer runs has also eaten into
the screenprinting business due to faster speeds and lower unit
costs. Many of the large format advertising billboards are now litho
printed instead of screenprinted.
Additional trends in the market place will be towards more environmentally
friendly products. The areas that have been targeted include:
There has been a huge amount of effort applied in
the study of the possible effects of certain phthalates on human
health. Endocrine destabilization and other effects on the reproductory
organs, especially in embryos and infants, have been highlighted
as possible areas of concern.
Environmentalists have also come into the fray stating
the impact on ground water and air pollution are also areas of concern.
The screenprinting industry has identified this area
as a possible problem and has developed phthalate free plastisols.
Phthalate free plastisols have been around for some time but have
not been commercially available as yet due to the higher cost implications
of the systems.
Future consumer demands will, however, dictate that
all plastisol will be phthalate free at the very least.
PHTHALATE AND PVC FREE PLASTISOLS
Again, the environmental pressure on manufacturers
to remove PVC from all products has gained tremendous momentum over
the last few years. However, there is always a cost implication
involved in printing a system that air-dries either water or solvent
based. The later option of a solvent-based ink is also a no-no as
far as the environment is concerned.
The requirement by the industry is for a system that
behaves in every fashion like a traditional plastisol but contains
no phthalates or PVC - only 80% of the ingredients need to be changed!
Phthalate and PVC free plastisols are on their way!
UNIFLEX have a system that is under evaluation presently. The preliminary
results look extremely encouraging
so watch the press for
Obviously the new developmental product is going to
be more costly, but what price do you place on the state of your
health and on the future well being of our planet.