Doc is always blown away by the plethora of niche markets in printing, and never stops being amazed at where opportunities are coming from. One good place to look is in the mergers and acquisition area, where established players often gobble up the up-and-coming firms in new areas.
But I was still surprised to see that EFI, a world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, recently announced it had acquired privately-held Cretaprint S.L. based in Castellón, Spain, a leading developer of inkjet printers for ceramic tile printing. That's right, ceramic tile printing.
"We are benefitting from strong traction in our industrial inkjet segment and are excited about expanding into the ceramic tile market, which represents a tremendous growth opportunity for EFI," said Guy Gecht, CEO of EFI. "We have been tracking the swift transformation from analog to digital technology in tile imaging for quite some time, and have been deeply impressed with the fast growth and global leadership position of Cretaprint."
Apparently, industry analysts continue to project rapid growth in ceramic tile inkjet printing, as noted by Dr. Ray Work, Work Associates. "The tile industry is moving towards inkjet," said Dr.Work. "The financial incentives are so great that the entire industry is converting rapidly to inkjet. The ceramic tile manufacturer can pay back their investment in an inkjet digital press for ceramic tiles in as little as six months."
The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) conducts annual membership surveys. Their 2011 Industrial Printing Survey Report indicates that over 75 percent of its members utilize digital printing and also consider ceramic tile printing to be a strong market opportunity.
EFI will use its knowledge of inkjet technology to enhance Cretaprint's quality of output, software control, color management and more. Cretaprint has over 1,700 global customers.
Doc would have never guessed that ceramic tile printing represented such a big opportunity. Just goes to show you that good technology eventually finds its way into just about every manufacturing process. Now if I could just get the ceramic tile to feed through my desktop printer, I might discover a new career.