The Evolution of Industrial Inkjet
Thursday afternoon, Marcus Timson, co-director, FM Future, talked about the evolution of inkjet in the industrial space.
Thinking of inkjet’s role in the greater world of manufacturing, part of the problem, he said, is that traditional manufacturers are old companies, with massive investments in the old way of doing things. They fear change, and they fear the disruption that inkjet will bring. “But we need to get out of our comfort zones,” he noted. “That requires courage and a vulnerability that we’re not always comfortable with. As we gain more experience at something, we’re less likely to take risks to grow.”
In many ways, he noted, manufacturing is in many ways still stuck in the 1950s, with standardized products and standardized ways of producing them. The mainstream is huge, and anyone who thinks outside that box is “weird.”
That is changing, he noted.
Companies are beginning the slow move toward Industry 4.0, and with that comes a shift to considering a problem first, then finding a solution, rather than creating a technology, then finding the problem it will solve. For industrial inkjet, which brings flexibility and the ability to innovate, this shift could be the push it needs to move from a niche, “fun” process to a mainstream technology.
“Inkjet isn’t a new innovation, but for these markets, it is something brand new,” said Timson. And while the expectations of the earliest adopters didn’t pan out in the past decade, he believes that is rapidly starting to change. There are still barriers to adoption, but inkjet is beginning to see a resurgence in interest in the manufacturing sector, and with that shift, new opportunities are just around the corner.