How Innovations in Printing Technology Are Changing the Manufacturing, Healthcare and Design Industries

Look at any top 10 list of inventions that changed the world, and the printing press will appear. By making printing efficient and available, the Gutenberg press provided a means for artistic and scientific innovations to flourish in the first Renaissance. Now, 500 years later, printing is once again sparking creativity and opening up new possibilities. While Internet technology transforms communication, printing innovations impact industries from healthcare to manufacturing to design.

Industrial printing transforming manufacturing

Industrial print applications now include a wide range of applications such as membrane switch overlays (MSO), custom-designed products and packaging, and decorative print on surfaces such as glass, metal and wood. It’s changing how products are manufactured, allowing for customized looks, frequent design changes and rapid prototyping.

Digital printing provides endless MSO opportunities
Membrane switches have traditionally been produced by screen printing directly onto a plastic substrate to produce the overlay we typically see and touch—think numbers on a microwave, text on a gas pump or text on a remote control. An Arizona printer allows you to print directly onto film; digital printing means no screens and inks to prepare and no press set-up time, a more cost-effective way to produce short runs and prototypes. And digital printing makes it possible to design MSOs using millions of colours, including gradients and images, instead of being limited to the five or six colours found in screen printing.

Innovative technology adds fun to functional
Industrial print is deployed on products for functional purposes. Developments in UV digital printing have opened up new opportunities for putting unique spins on products, whether awards and plaques, POP displays, stickers and labels, or promotional items like game boards, tape measures and licence plate holders. Musicians can even express themselves with their instruments, not just with the notes they play on them. Since the Arizona printer can print on items up to two inches thick, everything from a drum kit to a guitar strap can be easily customized.

Custom-printed interiors, fashions and confections cater to individual needs

In an article on consumer product trends in 2020 published by Deloitte University Press, the “proliferation of customization and personalization” is counted as a key undercurrent, with consumer spending predicted to shift to customized products. Printing innovations and print-on-demand solutions are answering the call for customization.

Dye sublimation printing opens up print-on-demand textile options
Print-on-demand companies such as Art of Where are taking advantage of the latest textile printing options, including dye sublimation printing, to create customized clothing. Artists upload their original artwork to order individual units or low wholesale quantities.

Custom-printed wallpaper personalizes interior home and commercial spaces
With advances in ink technology and large format printers that can accommodate specialty media, customized wallpaper is a cost-effective option for a unique look in high-visibility spaces. Flatbed printers such as the Arizona Series support flexible media including banner vinyl, self-adhesive vinyl, paper, textiles, backlit films, canvas and more.

Personalized, life-changing solutions in healthcare

Wheelchair users walk with 3D printing solutions
Printing innovations have led to some incredible advances in healthcare. For customized implants and prosthetics, 3D printing is an ideal technology. A 3D Systems/Ekso Bionics® suit that uses customized 3D printed parts allows people who use wheelchairs to walk.

Bioprinting research shows impressive potential
Will we soon be printing replacement organs? Will waiting for donors become a thing of the past? Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine developed an Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System to print living human tissue. The Wake Forest scientists conducted several experiments with promising results for printing tissue that can be used in humans. More research, testing and approvals are needed before this printing technology is available, but its potential impact would be truly life-changing.