With astonishing speed, Ricoh has gone from new entrant to market leader in many areas of the graphics business. It saw a three-fold increase in printing systems turnover between 2003 and 2013, and is the first digital press company to achieve certification to ISO 12647-2, the reference standard for colour quality. The company has however not forgotten its green committments or the People Planet Profit triple bottom line for social equity, economic and environmental factors. Ricoh has a goal for 2050 that 50% of all raw materials used in its digital presses and associated materials will be based on recyclates.
Improving the green credentials of the graphics business can take many forms. Most motivations for doing so are economic rather than philanthropic, however the future of the printing and publishing industries depends on both social and economic improvements. Digital press and print consumables manufacturers such as Agfa, Fujifilm and Kodak have done much to improve print’s environmental economics, cutting their technologies’ power usage requirements for instance. These three have massively improved plate processing and associated chemistries and materials recyclability. They have reduced the use of VOCs, and improved production efficiency with clever software and artificial intelligence. But when it comes to social programmes, Kodak is leading the way.
When ISO 16759 for calculating the carbon footprint of print media products was under development, we mostly had in mind paper based prints. It is interesting to see this standard being deployed for other types of print media, which is what a Taiwanese supplier of textiles has done.
In the graphics industry, the idea of making Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) is basically an alien concept. But, from printed matter through to the machinery and systems used to produce print media, EPDs are becoming increasingly important to procurement.
Our industry is seeing massive improvements in ink technologies, especially to suit new print methods and substrates. Technology advances are taking print into all sorts of new applications. One of the most attractive for all concerned is textiles, particularly those produced digitally with devices such as the Epson SureColor SC-F2000 direct-to-garment printer or the EFI Reggiani series. Textile printing brings with it a host of expectations for quality and durability, and when it comes to on demand prototyping there is less price sensitivity in this kind of print. However there are other more important concerns, with product safety at the top of the list.