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Paper industry needs to 'move with the times'

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Paper industry needs to 'move with the times'

May 19, 2014 - 05:50

BRUSSELS, May 1, 2014 (PPI Magazine) - There is no doubt that the industry from global and regional perspective has major challenges in front of it, but there are also huge opportunities. Sponsored by HP ColorLok, RISI recently invited some special guests who really sparked the imagination with some of their views.

The panel:

The Academic: Professor Rajendrakumar Anayath, Technological Institute of Textiles & Sciences, India

The Advertising Agency Executive: Julian Ingram, McCann Erickson, Europe

The Printing Machine Technology expert: Larry Tracy, HP Business InkJet Product Development, US

What will we be printing in 2030?

The usual subjects that come up in a discussion of growth in the industry are the grades of packaging and tissue - in some cases they are seen as the last hiding places for the pulp and paper industry - but not in this discussion. One of our invited guests to the future proofing discussion was Professor Rajendrakumar Anayath of the Technological Institute of Textiles & Sciences, India. Professor Anayath was also formerly a professor at printing industry machine giant Heidelberg's printing academy. He offers some fascinating views on the future of print:

"The fact is, we need to be asking ourselves: What will we be printing in 2030?" and there are so many possibilities," says Anayath. "Some of which may sound outlandish, but they are here already."

Anayath goes on to and interesting list that includes edible printed paper, printed food, audible textiles, printing with bacteria, and even what is being called "Electronic Papyrus", which he says is a new concept of pulp based computing from the MIT Media Laboratory in Boston, MA.

But then Anayath comes back down to earth to talk about how the world of print in changing and adapting to all the challenges and opportunities which are coming its way. He says: "We have been in phase I of printing for some time, which is of course the concept of putting ink on paper. Phase II has been further developing nicely over the years, this is where we are adding extra colors, coatings, UV spot varnishing, and experimenting with RGB + conventional CMYK and tactile inks etc, which is growing strongly, but now the printing industry is looking for bigger and better - moving into manufacturing, medical science, nano and biometrics, electronics printing, bioprinting, and micro structuring.

"The fact is digital systems and the Internet are driving industrial convergence and they will continue to do so in the years to come. There are three areas that will be crucial to all of our lives in the future - media, manufacturing and medicine - printing and therefore paper will play an enormous part those areas - so don't start writing off graphic papers yet, there is a future."

Anayath concludes that there is going to be a huge opportunity for the printing and paper industries of the future as 3D printing takes hold making everything from mechanical parts to human organs and as printed electronics change the whole face of manufacturing which will mean production time goes from "weeks to minutes" and where integrated circuit printing costs fall from "dollars to cents".

The really interesting part of Anayath's dialogue, is the fact that work being conducted now on barriers and coatings in the paper industry are beginning to attract the attention of big players in 3D and electronics, as well as food applications. Add to that paper's environmental credentials, and this looks like real future-proofing in action right now.

Choosing the right battles

Another of our panelists was Julian Ingram, McCann World Group advertising agency, and right at the coal face of print on paper action - and of course electronic media. Clients Ingram has worked with in the past include MasterCard, HP and Global Sony Ericsson campaigns.

Ingram was sobering in his approach to the fundamental challenges going on with the paper industry and its obvious decline at the hands of the new media, saying: "The fact is, the paper industry has to fight the right battles if it is going to future proof itself," he says. "If a client comes to me with a challenging campaign, I am only thinking how I can get the best results. More and more I don't see paper as being the answer. The fact is we have to look at the fundamentals of a media and advertising campaign: wh

at is going to be the cost of complexity? Will there be a return on investment for the client? Does the medium hit the spot of relative context? And are we making sure we are right on target with behavioral insight of the consumer. More and more paper gets pushed aside in these ‘battles'.

"The fact is paper as a whole does have a bit of an image problem when it comes to all this, and it needs to innovate to sell itself better," Ingram continues.

Asked if he had heard of the Two Sides campaign which has had some success in the European and US media, Ingram responded: "Yes, I have heard of Two Sides and it is certainly a start, but take a look at another large industry, let's say the oil industry. They spend millions and millions on their image, and what does the paper industry do? Very little. Much more effort is need I am afraid."

You have to move with the times

The fact is, there is a lot being done behind the scenes in the paper industry in terms of innovation, it just takes time to surface. We are beginning to see a lot of those results coming to the fore, particularly for specialties and packaging applications. However, there is also a lot being done in the changing attitudes to the home printing market. Another of our panelists at the future-proofing discussion was Larry Tracy, manager of Business InkJet Product development at computing and printer giant, HP.

Tracy has a wealth of experience starting out with early laser jet printing being instrumental in the launch of HP's LaserJet Classic, and then moving into color laser applications and then through to InkJet Digital presses. Tracy says: "The impact of new computing devices into the workplace over the last decades has been enormous - and the home and office printing environments now have no resemblance to what they were even a decade ago.

"Companies around the world are constantly looking for ways to improve productivity and printing, scanning and copying devices are right there at the center of these improvements. Add to that the huge influx of tablets, e-readers and smartphones that are available to virtually everyone now, and you have a completely different universe of printing needs. This is why it is extremely important for the paper industry to work very closely with the technology providers like us at HP, to make sure that the customers and end users of connected technology have complete and easy access to output devices. "

"This technology moves fast," concludes Tracy "And the paper industry has to move with it."

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