Aldo Peretti, president of ACIMGA: “ready to get back to work to grow even more”
The first edition of Print4All, the new exhibition format born of the cooperation between Acimga, Argi and Fiera Milano, which from May 28th to June 1st showcased the whole converting, package printing, labelling, commercial and industrial printing production chain, was a full success. Not just in terms of figures – which exceeded even the highest expectations – but also for climate and prospects, fundamental in assessing the results of a fair.
31 thousand unique visits – bound to rise once the official figures are released, which will include visits to halls 18 and 20 by those who accessed the exhibition grounds through the concurrent events of The Innovation Alliance – indicate a ratio of 2.2 visitors to square metre. This is an extraordinary result for instrumental mechanics (where the “golden rule” is 1/1), which rightfully places Print4All in the Olympus of international exhibitions.
The climate at the fair was excellent. The public showed interest from the first to the last day and companies were represented by top-level officials: in the last several years, rarely has such a high number of company owners and CEOs been present at the booths, busy talking to visitors and clients for so long; never have post-exhibition comments expressed such full, unanimous satisfaction with – and even surprise at – such a game-changing event, which had been in the air for some time, anticipated by preparatory events and an intensive communication campaign leading up to the fair, but even these could not foreshadow an event of such reach, quality and size.
“We have achieved the objective of creating a platform showcasing top-level technology for the entire print production chain – comments Aldo Peretti, president of ACIMGA -. Together with our partners, we stubbornly believed in our exhibition heritage and in developing it into a brand new format, fighting every opposition and difficulty with tooth and nail; eventually the facts proved us right. The results we obtained made our Italian entrepreneurs proud and earned us the admiration of foreign markets. And – adds Peretti – we know we can do even better: this debut edition shows Print4All is already mature for a single-level exhibition with no architectural barriers limiting the exposition and the flow of visitors. We know the direction we need to work in to grow even more: the results of the recently closed exhibition provide valuable insights we can capitalized on to plan the next Print4All 2021, set to be staged after drupa 2020, with even more ambitious goals”.
The trends driving the printing sector
From 29 May to 1 June, at Fiera Milano, Print4All was an occasion to take stock of the main trends in the printing sector: technologies and innovations driving business. That’s official press briefing of Fiera Milano about trends:
Nowadays printing has an increasingly strategic role and is involved in the entire life cycle of products: from production through to sales. At Print4All, thanks to the offer of 429 companies, between today and 1 June, we will be taking stock of the main trends driving sector and the development of business.
The new industrial revolution is a reality all sectors have to come to terms with and the issue of industry 4.0 has an impact on production at large, even in the printing sector, as it represents a common thread leading to the evolution of production processes. This reshaping of industrial paradigms requires new professional skills and an evolution of production procedures and processes, which now operate over the web in an interconnected manner, and can be monitored and managed remotely, even in the printing sector. During the four days of the event, visitors will get to see an abundance of products from producers involving increased automation and optimisation of processes in order to increase efficiency and sustainability and reduce costs, through more secure and efficient technologies or advanced systems quality control that can monitor and manage every phase of the process.
Industry 4.0 will also be at the heart of the training offer, from the presentation of the results of the Industry 4.0 check-up by the Italian Paper and Graphics Federation, through to a number of appointments that will examine in depth other specific aspects, including, for example, how product communication will change and the opportunities to be had from the adoption of improved printing techniques to allow consumers to have new sensory experiences.
Personalisation is the key word in terms of printing processes. Customers now expect an increasing level of attention to their own requirements which means a need for added flexibility in machines and solutions to adapt to constantly changing productions, often involving small production lots. On top of this, is the separate issue of the importance of involving consumers by offering on-demand objects and products. Personalisation is often associated with packaging, but it is so much more than this. Just think, for example, of attempts to increase customer loyalty, which is a necessary step for retail businesses having to satisfy the requirements of every consumer that comes to their stores.
In recent years, digital printing has been the main difference, because aside from making it possible to have short runs, it can diversify the appearance of products and opens up infinite options in terms of personalisation, which in turn, stimulate the creativity and imagination of marketing and communication experts. So, we will get to see increasingly sophisticated machines for digital printing, off-set and rotogravure that can cater to the most diverse requests from customers, in order to ensure recognisability, identity or interactivity for products.
Environmental sustainability has become truly imperative and is seen as the cornerstone for long-term success. It is a key driver for innovation, value creation and the possibility for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors. It is a process which implies an initial investment for printers that will easily be repaid by customers who are always looking for solutions that meet the expectations of the public, including with regard to printing on packaging, objects promotional materials and books. This therefore paves the way for technologies that can improve the efficiency of processes, automation, while reducing costs, production times and emissions, but also sustainable printing materials, watercolours and recyclable cartridges, new supports or binding systems and the transformation of environmentally friendly raw materials that can ensure a high-quality end result.
Anti-counterfeiting? Yes, thanks to intelligent solutions
The fight against counterfeiting represents a constantly growing business. With regard to our country, for example, Italian sounding brands have a combined turnover of more than €60 billion per annum, and account for almost two products out of three in international markets (source: Coldiretti). Package printing plays an important role in preventing the spread of these “false” products, not just for the luxury market, pharmaceutical products or toys, but also for the food and beverage sector. Printing and packaging have a fundamental role, as the act as a barrier to the spread of counterfeit products. Therefore, the development of new technologies to limit this phenomenon represents one of the areas many producers and technology integrators are focused on to bring innovation to the market. Based on current technologies, holograms are expected to play a crucial role in terms of anti-counterfeiting instruments for food packaging, while RFID technologies will see the greatest level of growth. Smartphones will become increasingly useful for enabling retail consumers to verify the authenticity of products through the use of tools such as QR codes or augmented reality solutions.
Moreover, there is an increasing use of special inks with added molecular tags which can become actual traceability systems that can be applied directly to products. Indeed, the use of special inks extends the use of labels and helps to create systems for verifying and controlling product authenticity.
Creativity and the wow effect
It’s only a short step from radical personalisation to the WOW effect. Even in this case it is the most innovative technologies – with digital technologies at the fore – that are inspiring original and creative proposals, print solutions that can renew visual communication or product image and make them more effective, to produce that sophisticated and awe-inspiring effect which has become so important for involving and engaging increasingly demanding consumers in all phases of the customer journey. The novelties that will be presented at Print4All include machines for printing in large formats and on all types of materials, post-printing processing (finishing) that give products a little something extra, interactive applications on packaging, brand new colours that were devised for contemporary communication, high quality and extremely high performance inks, as well as the combination between innovative technologies and traditional supports to achieve remarkable results, such as augmented reality paper through to printing techniques that offer tactile emotions and unleash all of the potential of packaging.
The future is digital: labels and package-printing
The label printing sector is one of the more sensitive sectors to innovation and technological changes, particularly when it comes to the possibility to transform simple packaging into a means of communication and interaction with the consumer.
Digital technology is playing a key role in this process. Although it is not fully established it is growing constantly, including in conjunction with traditional printing systems. In 2017 there were approximately 800 new installations of digital printing systems for producing packaging (source Keypoint Intelligence), which were generally used for the labels market. There are many advantages to be had from the move towards digital technology, including, the consistency of colour on different types of packaging, which satisfies brand owners, the possibility to manage various production lots with lower runs and different finishing processes. At Print4All, alongside numerous novelties in terms of rotogravure technologies, there will be many such proposals from producers, including flexible and hybrid technologies for printing on packaging and labelling, which guarantee the possibility of limited runs and highest level of personalisation.
3D Printing: What revolution?
One of the main novelties in recent years has been 3D printing. Everyone is talking about it and there I no doubt that it is very interesting and offers a myriad of different applications. But is it really a revolution that will change the way we produce objects, or will it be restricted to a few niche sectors and prototyping? There is no doubt that additive printing technology is an increasing feature in manufacturing companies, especially in large companies and more than 70% of these players uses digital printing in prototyping phases, although only a third uses it for producing finished parts (source Dimensional Research). However, we are also seeing the emergence of alternative materials to plastic: 3D printing of metals and ceramics, for example, offers new opportunities and potentials even in sectors that have thus far not seen much use of three-dimensional printing, such as the automotive, electronics and medical sectors. This whole area still needs to be explored and it is certainly a source of great interest for everyone involved. The future still has to be constructed.