Direct-to-Object and More in 2020

By Inkjet Insight / Published:

In 2020, Inkjet Insight will be expanding coverage of inkjet’s role in growth markets like packaging, industrial and aspects of 3D jetting. Of course we will continue to keep you informed about opportunities, challenges and product developments in application segments where inkjet is fully entrenched. We also want to get an array of perspectives on how printers can expand their reach and increase relevance in the new decade. You can always count on great stories and insight from Richard Romano.

Richard recently interviewed Peter Baldwin, Director of Marketing for East Dorset, Vt.’s Engineered Printing Solutions (EPS), about some of the issues—and opportunities—involved in direct-to-object printing and shared several great applications with us.

As background, EPS sells both “off the shelf” and custom-built printing systems. A lot of these kinds of applications fall into the category of industrial printing, which means, in general, they involve printing as part of a larger manufacturing process, which limits what you can do with an off-the-shelf system.

Richard is always a sucker for weird substrate stories, so he asked Baldwin about some of the weirdest or coolest (or both) materials or objects EPS and/or its customers have printed on. “Cold foil stamping,” he said, “or single-pass inkjet on cold foil adhesive substrates. With drop-on-demand technology, grayscale and halftones can be achieved producing photorealistic images. Single-pass inkjet on hard hats, with inline rotary pretreatment. Single-pass printing parts at 10,800 pph with upstream robotic loading six parts at a time from the injection molder. Every two seconds, six parts are fed from a robotic arm tool onto conveyorized fixtures for printing. EPS had to match an existing line-speed and integrate seamlessly.”

Digitally printed hard hat. You can watch a video of them being printed at (Image courtesy Engineered Printing Solutions.)

Richard and Peter also talked about a really narrow-web printing application: inkjet on tape measures at 50 inches per second. “Needless to say, tape measures can’t be out of register even at the 100-yard mark,” says Baldwin.  Check out a video here. Roll tape!

In terms of cool examples, the icing on the cake turns out to be almost icing on the cake. Check out single-pass inkjet printing on cookies using edible ink. Check out a video at

Stay tuned for a discussion of opportunities and challenges with getting into this kind of printing. Keep in mind, these are not “off the shelf” solutions. As you enter more esoteric application areas, you inkjet solutions will most likely be customized or a completely custom build.

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