Industry Report with the increased just-in-time

requests the industry is currently seeing, this will keep a lot of business local. “I think this will boost local production markets and make them more competitive,” he added.

Ronald then took the chance to share the opportunities that he expects to see develop out of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of the pandemic Mimaki has been forced to move its business online, which is something that Ronald suspects a lot of other companies have also done. He said: “Even companies that have not done that before have been forced to communicate with their customers through online events, meetings, webinars, products are going to be published online. People are going to be listening to webinars like this one on- demand and the same is for digital printing. For decades now the tagline for digital printing has been on-demand printing.”

The future

Ronald then shared what he expects to see happen in the future with the four areas of Mimaki’s business.

In the signs and graphics market, Ronald said an immediate impact had been seen with retailers closing. But in turn, he had also seen businesses printing COVID-19 related signage, stating warning signs as an example. As a result, many companies that would use conventional printing methods are now using digital printing methods to meet production deadlines or maybe customers are getting creative and using other production methods to personalise or produce faster. For the direct to object market, Ronald expects to see a boom here in the future. These types of products, for example personalised phone covers, are predominantly sold through webshops. Given the coronavirus crisis, people who previously would not have shopped online

are being forced to do so in order to buy gifts for relatives and such like. This is something that Ronald expects to see continue. Ronald also said this now opens up the opportunity to automise the process.

Ronald expects the textile and apparel market to be similar to the DTO market. He said that a lot of output is still produced by conventional methods and is still outsourced to Asia and the Middle East. Here the opportunity for digital printing is to investigate the order to delivery process. He said: “I think we all know where digital printing has the advantage. Even before COVID we have seen several brands investigate moving their production back to Europe. I believe that this will again start. People will investigate whether digital will have a benefit on their workflow.”

The final market segment is 3D printing and Ronald says during this crisis period that entrepreneurs have been able to print prototypes of products quickly to help bring products to market quicker. He said: “In these four markets, I can identify synergies such as faster delivery times. We need to spread this message; this will help digital printing move on. As a digital industry we have a big opportunity to educate potential customers how digital technology can help their business and bring efficiency in the total order process.”

Immediate opportunities In terms of immediate opportunities, Ronald then gave examples of companies switching production from producing apparel or sportswear to producing scrubs or face masks to keep people safe and one customer who has modified one of Mimaki’s coating machines to use sanitiser, and now the machine is being used to sanitise textiles used in the medical industry.

Ronald added: “This machine was never

made for this kind of application. I don’t know if we have to adapt our business model for the medical industry, but at least this shows that our customers are thinking outside of the box to create new business.”

FESPA Global Print Expo Talk then moved to the FESPA Global Print Expo, which was due to take place in March but has been postponed to October 6 to 8.

From the point of view of organiser and exhibitor, both men were positive about the resumption of the global exhibition. Christian said: “I am sure that when we exit the coronavirus situation that printers will be keen to find ways to boost production and business.

“Everyone is looking forward to meeting colleagues and to seeking inspiration. I think coming out of the coronavirus crisis, printers will be very excited to join and attend FESPA.”

Whereas Ronald added, that the Mimaki team can’t wait to showcase the new ways that their equipment has been used over the last few months. He said that Mimaki is still developing new products and these will be showcased in October. Ronald added: “I’m really looking forward to FESPA. It will be nice to meet people face to face again. Hopefully we can shake hands with everyone again in October.”

After discussing the current situation, any future opportunities for digital printers and FESPA, the floor was then opened up to questions. One question that struck a chord with both men centred on social distancing and whether this will become the new normal among business. Ronald said he expects more business to be carried out online as companies are less willing to travel. He said: “This crisis has proven that meetings can be done online and that quicker decisions can be made.”

Whereas Christian added that he expects social distancing to remain part of our daily lives, because now we have lived with a virus such as COVID-19 and understand how it is spread, it can only be resolved with social distancing. He added: “Regarding travelling I believe there will be changes and I can see a picture in my mind where we are all sitting on a plane with a mask on our face.”

All in all, after listening to the webinar it is clear the coronavirus pandemic is not all gloom and doom, despite first impressions. Many digital printers are using the crisis as a way to develop their business and protect it for the future. Only time will tell if the forecasts made by Ronald and Christian will come to fruition.

Italian sportswear manufacturer Energiapura uses a Mimaki JV300 wide-format printer to print customised face masks To the right: A face mask produced by Energiapura

| 20 | June 2020

● Should you wish to listen to this informative webinar, it is available to download by visiting

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