Technological developments continue to break down the boundaries when it comes to printing, offering new and innovative solutions to the needs of businesses and consumers.

While we’ve come an awful long way since the invention of the printing press, with business able to rely on an array of digital and offset printers to handle their needs – be that packaging, promotional material or corporate documents – new technology continues to extend the speed, scale and scope of the things that businesses are able to do with their printers.

This article looks at the next big things to come in the world of printing – and the impact they might have:

Nanotechnology

Big differences can be made by tiny, tiny technology. Nanography deals in particles that are measured in billionths of a metre and harnesses these to allow for printing that combines the qualities of both digital and offset printing – traditionally rival formats. For big businesses, this means the development of large format digital printers that can ensure B1 format printing is able to be done on a scale – and at a quality – that they need. Landa’s Nanographic printing press attracted a lot of attention at the drupa exhibition in Germany last year and the first major orders to be fulfilled this year, giving us the chance to see the true potential of this technology.

Braillie

Braille is a vital writing system to help blind and partially sighted people to go about their daily business. With that in mind, being able to print materials in an effective way is important if society is to do all it can to accommodate the 285 million people with severe vision impairments across the world. That’s where engineering firm KWSP is hoping to step in, with a new printer which offers a digital, flexible and on-demand service for a sector that has lacked all three of those attributes. As The Manufacturer notes: “In simple terms, this technology hopes to deliver a similar step change for the printing of Braille, as did the move from typewriter to computer processing for the printed word.”

Portable 3D

While 3D printers have been around for a while now, the next wave of technology is helping to boost the number of practical uses for this type of printer. One great example can be seen with UK-based Formula One race team McLaren-Honda, which deployed a portable 3D printer for the first time at a Grand Prix in Bahrain. The printer used by McLaren, supplied by US group Stratasys, is able to let engineers to make small parts overnight so that they can be ready in double-quick time for a race. On top of that, one third of General Electric’s new turboprop engine will feature 12 major parts that have been 3D printed while Adidas will produce 100,000 pairs of running shoes by the end of 2018.

Whether it’s printing at new speeds and scales or in using new materials – these three technologies symbolise the next drive for change in the world of printing. They are set to make life easier for businesses and shape the way they can deliver products and services in the coming five years.