Mimaki hosted a webinar titled ‘the Sign and Graphics Industry’, which featured a panel discussion with media vendors Avery Dennison, Neschen Coating, Lintec Europe and Guandong.
– Dirk Peereboom, product manager and business development at Neschen Coating GmbH and Filmolux.
– Gary Dixon, international business manager at Lintec Europe GmbH.
– Alessandro Sacchi, product line director digital EMEA at Avery Dennison.
– Frank Marquart, senior technical marketing manager graphics solutions at Avery Dennison.
– Fabio Elmi, product R&D director – international relations, board member at Guandong.
Additionally, guest speaker Stuart Maclaren, CEO of Your Print Partner, shared his experience dealing with and working on new print projects during the Covid-19 crisis.
Before the discussion began, host and general manager sales EMEA at Mimaki Europe Ronald van den Broek emphasised the importance of embracing the ‘new normal’ as the Covid-19 pandemic continuously persists. Much of the webinar’s focus was on how players in the signage and graphics industry can adapt during these difficult times.
Moderator Danna Drion, senior marketing manager EMEA at Mimaki Europe, presented questions to the guest speakers, which were posed by both Mimaki and the audience.
What challenges you have experienced?
Dixon explained that his company has had to split production time, with many employees working from home, but that supply has been maintained.
Peereboom said, ‘Communication has been a challenge – face-to-face always trumps that of remote. Another challenge has been re-organising the value chain.’
Has there been an increased demand for any specific products?
Dixon said glass graphics have been popular, as well as graphics needed in offices, and that healthcare has been important sector. Peereboom added that ‘green’ PVC-free floor products are popular, while Marquart mentioned floor graphics/social distancing markers and green products with strong durability.
Elmi said, ‘We are concentrating research on indoor applications (namely floor and wall graphics), especially textiles, due to environmental needs, as well as anti-bacterial products.’
Efficiency of inks on media
Peereboom said that UV inks are stronger on floor graphics in terms of durability, to which Marquart agreed, but also said that solvent works well.
Sacchi said that social distancing signage is a big trend, specifically floor, wall and window graphics, and that he believes this trend is here to stay for a while. He also said there is an increase in demand for products that promote sustainability, or ‘green’ products.
Additionally, he said that Covid is a virus, not a bacteria, which consumers need to bear in mind as far as anti-bacterial graphics are concerned. It can make people ‘drop their guard’, and is also not very safe for disposal.
Peereboom said that the cost of green and non-green products is becoming similar. Another trend he cited was ensuring cleanliness and durability in graphics.
‘Customers are willing to pay for green products, if they are not too expensive,’ said Dixon.
‘Offering window, floor and wall graphics as a complete package is an opportunity,’ said Dixon, ‘but requires more training and innovation.’
Peereboom mentioned floor graphics, which in turn have design opportunities, ‘There is an interior design culture which we should be careful not to ignore.’
Marquart said that one growth opportunity is to assess the right products for the right applications, and make the smart choice.
Other information that emerged from the discussion included challenging but stable delivery issues, the popularity of anti-graffiti films, and van den Broek commenting on statistics which illustrate that solvent printing has experienced a small decline, while UV/LED printing is on the rise.
‘Since Covid-19 we have changed our business model,’ said Maclaren, ‘we now have new clients and make new products such as floor graphics (a large product line), clear screens (made from cardboard and window films), and clear roller banners without branding.’
Combatting revenue loss (as a print service provider)
Maclaren said that in order to combat revenue loss, aside from changing your business model, you must diversify with your current machines. ‘There is a big demand in personalisation, so we’re using our machines to grow our offering. We have also gone from producing 10 metres of floor graphics per month, to ten metres per minute.’
The last part of the session saw Bert Benckhuysen, senior product manager at Mimaki Europe, discuss Mimaki’s solutions and the possibilities they offer, which include window signs, floor graphics, labels, safety screens and face shields. He mentioned the rising popularity of 3D printing, and IoT automation, due to cost-saving aspects.
Some of the polls that were conducted indicated that 36% of attendees believed sustainability still is a major concern in their business during Covid-19, with 38% stating it is more important than ever, and 26% feeling it is now less important. Another poll indicated that 40% of attendees are concerned about the survival of their companies, with 19% feeling only a little concerned, 30% not at all and 12% unsure.
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