Screen Printing - April/May 2017 - 36
print that Does stuff
to its efficiency, quality, and speed, which cannot be matched
by digital. The process is so good and the output such high
quality that I cannot see a time where it is replaced."
Screen still reigns in the kingdom where print
He continued: "Screen printing is the best printing option
serves a specific function - if we can keep up.
for functional and industrial printing applications such as autoanDy MacDougall, asDpt
motive, smart technology, pharmaceutical, and packaging, and
it can provide amazing special effects with specialist inks. This
can also add a lot of impact to paper-based print applications."
Two friends of mine from the Academy of Screen & Digital
ith apologies to Bob and Doug McKenzie of SCTV's
Printing Technology - former chairman Alex Zuckerman
"Great White North," "today's topic" is industrial printing.
from Fimor and renowned printer Michel Caza - identified
Sometimes called "functional printing," it's the latest, greatest
the dominance of industrial printing in our industry more
buzzword in the print world, next to 3D. A lot of the traditional
than 10 years ago. At the time, the T-shirt guys just nodded
offset equipment manufacturers such as Heidelberg and many
their heads, while the graphic screen printers bought more
of the inkjet press makers are working to join the fray.
wide-format digital presses. Both men had seen firsthand
Why? Because along with packaging, it represents one of the
the size of the industrial print market, Alex from a manufacbiggest growth areas in the wide world of print - today and in
turer's viewpoint (every printer needs
the years ahead. While traditional offset
a squeegee) and Michel as a consultant
printing of paper declines, applications
and educator who had visited the vast
related to the manufacture of consumer
You might not see a
factories in Asia that were pumping
goods climb. And not just in Asia. It's
subwaY full of people
out products for the rest of the world.
also happening in the US, Canuckistan,
It's taken awhile for SGIA and FESPA
Mexico, Brexitainia and the EU, Africa,
anYmore, but every bozo
to come around, but the last few years
South America - the list goes on. Humans
staring at their cellhave seen growing recognition of print's
make a lot of stuff worldwide, and more
phone means that some
place in advanced manufacturing.
of it every year. Each product needs a
printers got work and
Closer to my home: The University of
container, or graphics on the casing, or
took home a paYcheck.
British Columbia's Centre for Flexible
both, so there's the packaging and the part
Electronics and Textile (CFET) is part
decoration (a hybrid of industrial/graphic
of the Prometheus Project, a Canadian
print). Then there are the operational guts, with printing of
Foundation for Innovation-funded project aiming to improve
everything electronic. You might not see a subway full of people
human lives by creating cutting-edge materials and integratreading newspapers anymore, but every bozo staring at their
ing them into devices for different applications.
cellphone means that some printers got work and took home a
Five million dollars was awarded to the university as part
paycheck. One press shuts down; another starts up.
of the project to establish unique facilities for the design and
Screen printers have known about industrial for a while. And
integration of low-cost and flexible electronic materials into
we should. We invented it in the 1930s, with printed circuits and
devices and textiles. CFET will include two labs equipped
the application of ceramic and specialty inks onto and into glass,
with state-of-the-art facilities for conducting multidisciplinary
metal, and that marvel of the age, plastic. The other print technolresearch related to the development of novel nanomaterials and
ogies were busy fighting it out making automated paper printing
devices; prototyping of flexible electronics on plastic, paper and
machines. The loser technologies in the battle that waged into
textile; and roll-to-roll manufacturing on flexible substrates for
the 1960s were letterpress/flexo and gravure, but the also-rans
applications such as solar cells, batteries, and electronic skin.
found niche dominance in packaging. Think cartons, cans, and
The labs are currently being established at the school and will be
labels. Multilith, A. B. Dick, and Heidelberg, along with other
operational by the end of June.
printing press manufacturers, helped build a worldwide printing
The Centre seeks to provide services to a wide range of
industry - on paper - that became the largest employer in the US
academic users from various departments of the university as
by the end of the 1900s. We'll never see those employment numwell as external academic, industry, and government users.
bers again as traditional print-on-paper moves away from offset
So how important is industrial printing to the North
and splinters; the small-town offset printer was a victim of online
American economy in the near future? Very. Time to sharpen
ordering and the dominance of digital communications.
your squeegees, boys and girls.
Meanwhile, screen printing ruled electronics and the mass production of things, and continues to build on that tradition today.
Andy MacDougall is a screen printing trainer and consultant based on
Claudio Moffa of Sakurai, in a recent interview with Marcus
Vancouver island in Canada and a member of the Academy of Screen
Timson of the Industrial Print Blog, states that "Industrial print
& Digital printing technology. if you have production problems you'd
is experiencing continued growth for screen printing. In a varilike to see him address in "Shop talk," email your comments and
ety of industries, screen printing remains the key process due
questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.