Printing has evolved and grown exponentially over the last decades. From the early thermal printers and laser printers of the 1960s, to the dot matrix printer launched in 1970, printing continues to evolve.
Nowadays consumers, whether they are small business owners, large companies, or simple home users, are flooded with endless printing solutions, devices, and mediums. While there are many technology breakthroughs across the industry, the most significant new developments occur in the field of outdoor and signage printing. This particular type of printing needs to be weather resistant, support various mediums, be available in multiple shapes and sizes, and must stand the test of time.
Let’s see which are some of the technologies that are set to revolutionize printing. Some of them have already been launched and are being implemented and tested, while others are expected to be available in the next few years:
Nanotechnology for digital finishing and printing on textiles
Textile printing is one of the most important parts of outdoor signage and banner production. Other outdoor advertising products such as flags, tents, or even clothing, can benefit tremendously from the latest technology advances in the industry. Nanotechnology and its multiple applications have helped shape the production of these advertising products. Nanomaterials and nanotechnologies in the dyeing and printing industries can contribute to creating high-quality outdoor advertising products.
Cutting edge technologies that were launched in the recent years include nano-antibacterial polyester filament additives that form a protecting, weather resistant film for most types of textiles. Functional additives, like anti-ultraviolet and infrared coatings, can help extend the lifespan of flags and large scale banners by preventing sun damage, especially in warmer, sunnier climates.
New technologies developed by joint efforts from multiple universities in the United States and China, have helped increase printing efficiency, reduce costs and extend the lifespan of outdoor advertising products. High polymer matrix nanomaterials, pigments, and resins protect the fibers and forms a layer of thermoplastic polymer and inorganic nano-functional particles that ensure higher color quality, contrast, and luminosity. The new technology of nano-polymer matrix printing reduces equipment loss, cuts costs of production by up to 30 percent and saves energy in the long run.
The development of nano ink is also set to revolutionize outdoor textile printing. The main colors, yellow, cyan, black and fuchsia have a particle size of 50 to 150 nm, overcoming the shortcomings of traditional ink. The new nano ink is ideal for a variety of textiles, including soft silk, cotton, polyester, and composite fabrics.
New developments in latex printing
Latex printing is currently available, but new developments are set to make it even more reliable and cost effective. It is flexible for both large scale, wide format outdoor prints as well as small office printed products. Some of the technologies to watch for in the following years include the development of UV-curable inks, which guarantee increased resistance to sun damage over long periods. Waterbased and solvent inks are also evolving and are especially popular in sign and display applications.
New lamination technologies (prints come out already dry and laminated) guarantee that prints can last up to fifteen years, regardless of the weather conditions.
Carbon 3D printing
3D printing is no longer a secret for anyone, but a recent startup from California developed a whole new way to create spectacular 3D printed objects. While 3D printing has limited applications for the banner and signage industry, at least for the time being, the future technologies may change this completely.
Carbon3D, a company based in the Silicon Valley, has shocked the printing and tech world with their groundbreaking printing technology. Their 3D printer uses a new technique called liquid interface production and works up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printers. The objects are “raised” from a pool of special resin, already solidified thanks to a combination of light and sound pulses. The possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, the products are small, and the costs are expected to be high for larger projects. The great part, however, is that this new 3D printer works continuously, not on a “layer upon a layer” basis, increasing overall efficiency and quality.