According to stakeholders from the European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF), those who invented laminate can reinvent it over and over again. The organisation has been combining modern technologies with creative ideas to develop new generations of laminate flooring for over forty years. Today, digital printing is proving to be a major innovation driver in the industry.

The use of innovative print technology continues to be a catalyst for the advances and developments in the laminate flooring sector. At the end of the 1980s, for example, the first directly-coated laminate flooring (Direct Pressure Laminate) entered the German market. This shifted laminate flooring products out of the high price bracket, making them more affordable for consumers. It is also the reason why manufacturers increasingly became involved in this market segment.

In the 2000s, the surface appearance of laminate floors experienced a significant leap in quality when synchronous pore printing (Embossed In Register) was developed. The realistic appearance and tangible feel of this laminate flooring had an improved sensory impression and the wood textures and realistic “V” grooves heightened the feel of real wood. This led to laminate flooring being increasingly specified for projects that required a rustic furnishing style. Tile effects, which were becoming increasingly popular, also became more realistic through the use of synchronous pore printing.

Currently, the flooring industry is in the midst of a digital revolution as technology covers all aspects of the development, production and marketing of laminate. The implications of digital printing also extend far beyond technical implementation, as the potential to switch from centralised to decentralised production can be the catalyst for new business models, ideas and inspiration.

Modern digital printing presses also mean that pattern repeats are a thing of the past as digital data transfer increases flexibility throughout the entire process of laminate floor production. The printing systems receive the necessary data directly from the computer, without taking a circuitous route via unchangeable printing plates or impression cylinders.

Digital data transfer increases flexibility throughout the entire process of laminate floor production. This means less investment in cylinders, reduced make-ready times and minimal storage costs. Producing new designs digitally significantly reduces the time it takes to bring products to market. Digital printing enables the speedy changeover of decor patterns, a quicker reaction to customer requests and prompt implementation of new decor concepts – for customised mass production as well as small batches.

Experts at the EPLF are confident that digital printing will be a key determining factor in the flooring sector in the immediate future. Digital printing extends printing capabilities and has the potential to be used as an innovative basis for new, future-proofed product concepts.

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