Fifth Inkjet conference in Düsseldorf, Germany

The Inkjet Conference took place October 15 - 17, 2018 in Düsseldorf, Germany. This year there were over 500 attendees and about 64 exhibitors at tabletop displays which were open during breaks. There were three tracks, with a total of 75 presentations. Some presentations were by large vendors -- Kodak, Fujifilm, Canon, Siegwerk, etc.; a similar number were by academics; a few were by associations.

The conference opened with a presentation from DRUPA; they expect DRUPA 2020 to continue to expand on inkjet, and they reported that exhibitor space has sold ahead of schedule, and they forecast to again occupy all halls at the Messe Düsseldorf.

Keynotes focused on inkjet markets and technologies. Major issues explored in the technical presentations were around adhesion of inkjet inks on various substrates, especially films and foils used for packaging, food safety, scalability of inkjet head arrays, and inks and technologies to prevent clogging of heads. On this last point, it seems there is some adoption of water-based inks and continuous inkjet (as opposed to drop on demand) to address these issues. There were presentations about printed circuit boards using inkjet, a bit about biofabrication, and a small amount relating to 3D printing. Most of the "graphical" inkjet seemed focused more on large scale production inkjet rather than on proofing applications

n an analysis of inkjet market size, inkjet still remains small compared to the conventional printing processes, but obviously has its applications beyond proofing (short run, variable content, printed circuits, biofabrication, 3D printing). Growth is forecast to be significant, and digital to conventional crossover runlength points will continue to increase as production inkjet becomes more developed, less expensive, faster, and therefore more commonplace. Some of the barriers to broader adoption seem to be ink costs and reliability issues with heads. However, inkjet offers a shorter production process (especially shortening many prepress steps) and fast (zero?) makeready.

Report by Ian Baitz.