Advantages and challenges of digitally printed wallpaper

Editor’s Note: In Part 1 of our series on digitally printed wallpapers, “Wallpapers Bring Huge Opportunities for Digital Printing,” industry leaders discuss the growth of the wallpaper space. Part 2 looks at the advantages driving this growth, as well as the challenges that need to be overcome to further expand inkjet technology.

Regardless of the market, digital printing offers some inherent advantages, most notably the ability to customize products, faster turnaround times, and the ability to produce small batches more efficiently. The biggest hurdle is reaching higher operational scales cost-effectively.

The digitally printed wallpaper market is very similar in these respects.

David Lopez, professional imaging product manager for Epson America, pointed out that digital printing offers a variety of advantages to the wallpaper market, including customization, versatility and productivity.

“Digital printing allows for highly customizable designs on a variety of compatible substrates and eliminates the need for traditional setup processes, such as plate making or screen preparation, which are costly to setup,” Lopez said. “Unlike traditional printing methods, digital printing is more cost-effective and can provide faster turnaround times for short-run printing. This makes it feasible to produce small batches of custom wallpapers without the need for large minimum order quantities.

Kitt Jones, business development and co-creation manager at Roland DGA, points out that digital printing brings many advantages to the wallpaper market.

“This technology requires no inventory, it allows for 100% customization through design, and can reduce costs and provide greater control over production and turnaround times,” Jones added. “Dimensor S is one of the most innovative products for this type of application, ushering in a new era of custom textures and print-on-demand production that not only enables unique output but also delivers a high return on investment.”

Michael Bush, group marketing communications manager for Fuji Film Ink Solutions, points out that inkjet and wider digital technologies are well-suited to producing short-run and customized wall covering prints.

“Themed and customized wallpapers are popular in the décor of hotels, hospitals, restaurants, retail stores and offices,” adds Busch. “Important technical requirements for wallpapers in these interior environments include odorless/low-odor prints; Resistance to physical wear and tear caused by wear and tear (e.g., people wearing it on hallway walls, furniture on dining room walls, or suitcases on hotel room walls) wear and tear); washability and lightfastness, suitable for long-term installation. For these types of printing applications, the color gamut of digital printing colors and the trend of decorative processes are growing.

“Eco-solvent, latex and UV technologies are widely used and are all suitable for wallpaper, and each technology has its own advantages and limitations,” Bush noted. “For example, UV has excellent abrasion and chemical resistance, but it is more challenging to achieve very low-odor prints using UV. Latex has very low odor, but has poor abrasion resistance and has higher requirements for abrasion resistance. Applications that may require a second lamination process can meet low odor printing and durability requirements.

“When it comes to industrial mass production of wallpaper through single-pass production, the ability of digital technology to match the productivity and cost of analog methods is an important factor,” Bush concludes. “Wallpaper design often requires generation. The ability to have a very wide color gamut, spot colours, special effects and finishes such as metallics, pearlescents and glitters is also a challenge for digital printing.”

“Digital printing brings several advantages to the application,” said Paul Edwards, vice president of digital division at INX International Ink Co. “First, you can print anything from one image for the same cost as 10,000. You can create Imagery is much more versatile than the analog process and can be personalized, while you have much more control over the repeat length of the image than you would with analog.

Oscar Vidal, global director of HP’s large format product portfolio, said digital printing has revolutionized the wallpaper market by providing several key advantages.

“One of the most important benefits is the ability to customize designs, patterns and images on demand. This level of personalization is ideal for interior designers, architects and homeowners looking for unique wallpapers,” says Wei. Dahl said.

“In addition, digital printing can shorten turnaround times and eliminate lengthy setups required by traditional printing methods,” adds Vidal. “It is also cost-effective for small batch production, making it ideal for businesses and individuals who require limited quantities of wallpaper. High-quality printing achieved through digital technology ensures vivid colors, crisp details and intricate pattern, enhancing the overall visual appeal.

“In addition, digital printing offers versatility because it can be performed on a variety of materials suitable for wallpaper,” Vidal points out. “This versatility allows for a variety of options for textures, finishes and durability. Finally, digital printing reduces waste by eliminating excess inventory and minimizing the risk of overproduction, as wallpapers can be printed on demand.

Challenges facing inkjet wallpaper

Vidal observes that digital printing must overcome several challenges to gain a place in the wallpaper market.

“Initially, the quality was difficult to match with traditional printing methods such as screen printing or gravure printing,” Vidal points out. “However, advances in digital printing technology, including improved color accuracy and higher resolution, enable digital printing to meet or exceed industry quality standards. Speed ​​is another challenge, but with automation and smart printing like HP Print OS solutions, printing companies can achieve unprecedented efficiencies, such as operational data analysis or the elimination of repetitive and time-consuming processes.

“Another challenge is ensuring durability, as wallpaper needs to be resistant to wear, tear and fading,” adds Vidal. “Innovations in ink formulations, such as HP Latex inks, which utilize water dispersion polymerization technology to produce more durable prints, address this challenge, making digital prints more resistant to fading, water stains and abrasion. In addition, digital printing must ensure that it is consistent with the wallpaper. Compatibility of the various substrates used is also achieved through advances in ink formulations and printer technology.

“Finally, digital printing becomes more cost-effective over time, especially for short-term or personalized projects, making it a viable option for the wallpaper market,” Vidal concluded.

Roland DGA’s Jones said the main challenge is to increase awareness of printers and materials, ensuring potential customers understand the entire printing process, and ensuring users have the right combination of printers, inks and media to support their needs.

“While the same challenges still exist to some extent among interior designers, architects and builders, we are seeing a growing interest in this market to bring digital printing into interiors for the reasons previously mentioned – unique production capabilities, lower costs, better control, increased profits,” Jones said.

“There are some challenges,” Edwards noted. “Not all substrates are suitable for digital printing. The surface may be too absorbent and drawing the ink into the structure may not allow the ink droplets to spread properly.

“The real challenge is that the choice of materials/coatings for digital printing must be chosen carefully,” Edwards said. “Wallpaper can be a bit dusty and have loose fibers, which need to be kept away from the printing equipment to ensure reliability. Different approaches can be taken to solve this problem before the ink reaches the printer. The ink must have a low enough odor to work in this application. And the ink surface itself must be sufficiently scratch-resistant to ensure good wear characteristics.

“Sometimes a layer of varnish is applied to increase the resistance of the ink itself,” adds Edwards. “It should be noted that the handling of the output after printing must be considered. Rolls of material with different image types also need to be controlled and processed.” Proofreading, digitization is made more complex by the higher number of printing variants.

“Digital printing faces several challenges to get to where it is today; the most prominent of which are output durability and longevity,” Lopez said. “Initially, digitally printed designs did not always maintain their appearance, and there were concerns about fading, smudging, and scratching, especially on wallpaper placed in the elements or in high-traffic areas. As time went on, the technology continued With progress, these concerns are now minimal.

“Manufacturers have developed durable inks and hardware to address these issues,” Lopez added. “For example, Epson SureColor R-Series printers use Epson UltraChrome RS resin inks, an ink set developed by Epson for use with Epson PrecisionCore MicroTFP printheads to produce durable, scratch-resistant output. Resin inks are highly resistant Scratching properties make it an ideal solution for wall coverings in high traffic areas.

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