‘We give instant answers’

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Applications for ink jet printers are growing every day and that is good news for Diamond Dispersions.

The company prides itself on its ability to respond rapidly to new demands and help ink manufacturers to meet new challenges.

“We are open and accessible. If anyone wants an answer on anything, they get it instantly, whereas with a big company it takes them months,” says Peter Callahan.

“Anything can affect the finished ink from the environment and the temperature to the different surfaces the ink has to print on, so we work with the client. Our chemists will go out and spend days with an ink maker’s chemists.”

From printing on paper, ink jet printer manufacturers and their customers have moved to printing on textiles and ceramics – and now paper is again taking centre stage.

“The Kindle is opening up new areas for us,” says Diamond Dispersions director Sue Wright.

“People aren’t buying books in such large quantities because they are downloading an electronic version. In the States, if you want a book they will print it for you and that requires a specialised ink and printer, because of the demands of the paper they are using and the speeds of the printers, which are very high.

“The days of printing long runs of books are going to go. With electronic books, shorter runs and faster print heads it becomes economical to use an ink jet printer. You can take one book and print one copy, ten copies of 500 copies and there are no set-up costs.

“Fewer and fewer people are buying magazines and sooner or later printers will become fast enough to allow an entire magazine to be printed by ink jet.”

There may even be a time when customers order tailor made titles, deciding what sections they want in their particular edition of the magazine and having it printed on the spot, argues Sue Wright.

“Textiles primarily used traditional printing methods, but it is moving to digital. About one per cent of the market is digital, but a third of our production is for fabrics and the market is changing.”

The change will not only benefit businesses like Diamond Dispersions and its ink manufacturing clients, it could also lead to a resurgence for the European garment industry.

Digital printing isn’t labour intensive, so it becomes more financially viable to make garments in Europe and not have to wait for them to arrive on the slow boat from Chine, argue Sue Wright and Peter Callahan.