Leon Watson, General Manager Spandex UK, reveals that there are many sectors of the signage and graphics market that are poised for substantial growth – but they may not be the ones you suspect.
As printers and materials continue to develop, manufacturers are responding with new and improved inks on a rapid basis.
“Ink technology seems to be changing on a weekly basis,” says Leon, adding that while latex has had a tangible impact on the industry, another ink has yet to fulfil it’s potential. “I think all eyes are still on UV. It offers a multitude of benefits to the sign maker that are probably over and above that of latex,” he says. To match the evolving ink technology, Spandex carries printers such as those from swissQprint that work specifically with UV curable inks to print on a number of materials ranging from vinyl to PVC, dibond and foam panels. “Just by changing curing times and temperatures, you can then change the state of the print, whether you require a matte or a high gloss look, and again that can only be done through UV printing,” says Leon.
New Inks for New Sign & Graphics Markets
As sign makers foray into new submarkets, this move is being reflected in the types of inks being purchased. Leon notes that at Spandex, the numbers reflect a large interest in architectural signage, or interior decoration. “Things like textiles and wallpapers, they seem to be growing much, much faster than the likes of vehicle wrapping.”
While vehicle wrapping is undoubtedly popular, the textile market is right behind it. In fact, Polytape estimates the size of the textile market to be worth £12 million a year - and growing. Textile printing is a cost-effective way for end-users to transform the look and feel of a business establishment without having to pay for expensive refurbishment and redesign. Digital print can transform the wall and floor coverings at a fraction of the price, and as such sign makers are receiving more of these types of requests. “I’m continually amazed at the growth we see in textiles and soft signage, and wallpaper in particular seems to be growing like crazy,” adds Leon.
Another submarket, t-shirt printing, is also on the rise. What may be classed as a hobby or side-project for some sign makers is actually a surprisingly large market. “It’s almost like a silent industry,” says Leon, “but when you add it all together, we see sales of our products to support this industry growing very quickly.”
For over twenty years, Spandex has been at the forefront of ink technology based on partnerships with brands such as Arlon and 3M in addition to the manufacture of their own product line. Heading into the New Year, sign makers can expect to see a continued focus on high value as well as a number of solutions for interior decoration and soft signage from Spandex.
To learn more, visit www.spandex.com