Leading the way in inkjet – Part 1

Part 1 of a review of the IMI Europe Inkjet Printing Conference 2015

The IMI Europe Inkjet Printing Conference took place at the Novotel Amsterdam City Hotel in Amsterdam on 2-4 December 2015. With a range of 20 invited speaker presentations, the majority of which announced new technologies, and a great crowd of people from leading inkjet companies, the atmosphere was vibrant and positive throughout.

Top rated presentation

Bill Baxter, Inca Digital

Bill Baxter, Inca Digital

As always at the IMI Europe Inkjet Printing Conference, the delegates vote for the best presentation, and this year’s top rated presentation was “Why has inkjet been so slow to impact packaging?” by speaker Bill Baxter, Founder of Inca Digital Printers, Cambridge, UK. Bill gave an overview of the packaging sector and discussed the barriers to adoption of inkjet technology. Bill suggested that a key barrier to adoption was the lack of availability of suitable ink products, which caused some controversy in the audience! If you’re interested in finding out more – Bill’s presentation is available for a free download on our website at http://www.imieurope.com/freedownloads.html.

One of the major announcements at the event was Mike Willis stepping down as Managing Director of IMI Europe and handing over the baton to Dr Tim Phillips – formerly from Sensient and Xennia.

There were some exciting new technology announcements and discussions from major companies, and we have summarised these below:

Industry Overviews

IT Strategies
IT Strategies opened the Conference with a great insight into where the industry is heading, with key trends identified being expansion into new markets as production speed and quality continues to improve, with textiles singled out as a key area for growth and packaging an area to watch.

The key topics of the presentation were the recent development in the digital textile market in 2015 and product announcements at ITMA where 19 new printers and 14 new inks were displayed. James Rankin also gave a market overview, with digital print penetration now over 3.6%. India and USA were identified as key markets for the future with growth rates above 20%. The USA is seen as a key adopter for DTG and soft signage.

Rachel Gordon from IDTechEx gave a great insight into what’s new in 3D printing. One key insight was that 3D printing in education is becoming more popular with Governments in the UK, South Korea and China pledging to put a 3D printer in every school. Rachel also pointed out significant high growth markets in bio printing, aerospace, orthopaedic implants and printed electronics.

Qudos Digital
An interesting overview of the industry was given by Qudos Digital who emphasised the rapid growth in ceramics and the use of digital print for customized/personalized products for use of marketing campaigns. Another key element was the changing market demands in food packaging and pharmaceuticals.

The CEO’s of Fujifilm Dimatix and Xaar both gave overviews on market adoption of digital technology, including a survey of the remarkable success in converting the ceramics market to digital, and the expected growth in the labels and packaging markets. Direct-to-shape printing is showing exciting potential for growth. Functional printing and 3D printing were also discussed.

Fujifilm Imaging Colorants looked at the laminates industry, and concluded that it was already under going the transition to digital. Philip Double gave examples of solutions now available in the industry, and argued that printing inline with the impregnation process was the most efficient way forward, even though this still presents some technology challenges.

The Xerox presentation from George Gibson surveyed the possibilities for using intermediate printing stages – Xerox being pioneers of this technique for phase change inks – to enable a digital decoration process, looking at both liquid toner and more recent advances from Landa Digital with their Nanoink process.


Kyocera announced their new KJ4C recirculating printhead that prevents sedimentation and trapping of air bubbles. The new head has 1,568 nozzles with a 109.4 mm print width, equating to 360npi, and is designed for single-pass printing using oil-based inks, with a version for aqueous inks under development.

Konica Minolta provided the audience with more details on their Si-MEMS printheads. The ME130H is a high resolution head printing at 1200 dpi, the MC160H is a 600 dpi head covering a much wider range of solvents than existing heads, and the MEMS128 is designed for high precision printed electronics applications.

Ricoh UK announced their new thin film printhead – the TH5240, which prints resolutions of 300dpi/row and is compatible with aqueous and solvent inks.

Click here for Part 2!

Kirsty Inman & Tim Phillips, IMI Europe