Back to the Future – Metamark
Ian Simister, Sales Director atthe materials companyMetamark provided an interesting insight into the changes that have taken place, the notable innovations that have occurred, and both the challenges facing the industry and its future prospects.
As to the changes,he said: “If you look at working practices, the most noticeable change has to be the advent of reliable and durable digital print. This is due to the fact that sign manufacturers now undertake work they would hitherto have sub-contracted to other specialist businesses. For example, work that would have once put money into the screenprinting industry has now found its way into the sign industry instead. Furthermore, technology has enabled sign companies to explore areas that they would not have been able to tackle in the past and this has helped to create a much bigger, though admittedly more diffused market.”
On the question of influential innovations, he reflected: “From a Metamark perspective, it has been the development and commercialisation of materials that are expressly designed to function in a digital workflow environment. Much so-called digital media was simply old offerings revamped, which luckily, just happened to work, but as hardware became faster and print resolution higher, the deficiencies began to show.”
As regards the biggest challenges facing the industry, he identified the need to keep pace with market growth as one, although not necessarily the biggest, of these. That was reserved for the need to square up to the sheer scale of the opportunities that exist. He commented: “Modern hardware and materials make so many things possible. New markets and applications are there, ready and waiting to be developed,but getting this message over to the market is actually the real challenge.”
With regard to the future, Ian suggested: “In the short term, we are going to see a buoyant market that will continue to outstrip the general economy in terms of growth. In the longer term, we can rely on new material innovations that will open up fresh markets for those companies with the appetite to pursue them. With hardware being such a levelling influence in terms of capability, it is surely design and quality that will distinguish the exemplary operators in the industry. Standards are on the rise and the market will not put up with, or pay for, indifferent products.”
He concluded: “The sign and display industry has done a good job of steering a safe path through a period of disruptive change. It has also proved itself to be open minded, flexible and of course extremely creative. Occasionally, it needs to be reminded of how talented the people working in it are and how much added value they bring to the output produced.”