As the country prepares for the next phase of businesses reopening, the Independent Print Industry Association (IPIA) claims its members are one of the best placed to not only produce protective equipment like face visors, masks and sneeze screens but also develop further products and services to reduce spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Marian Stefani, CEO of the IPIA, said: “Since lockdown began in March, our industry has responded and evolved amazingly.
“Many have proved real heroes in supplying floor graphics and posters for essential businesses, while others have been working on bringing to market innovations like anti-bacterial print finishes and UV sanitisation.”
She added members like Bluetree Group responded to the World Health Organisations’s (WHO) call for more PPE by converting its 45,000sq ft operation into a surgical mask factory. Its early production estimates are 1.4 million a week rising to 20 million capacity by autumn.
Over half (52.53%) of industry experts reckon reshoring like this will grow. There’s a realisation that supply chains are stretched too thin and in times of crisis they’re unable to fulfil even the basics so there’s growing interest in small onshore facilities to meet spikes in demand.
Ms Stefani added: “I’m incredibly proud of how our sector has rallied in this crisis.
“We’re seeing extraordinary things such as manufacturers like Canon sharing their intellectual property and technology, making it open to help find solutions to fight the virus. And companies like Vivid Lamination fast-tracking new developments to meet new needs. Its Boss Bloc laminating film, for instance, eliminates 99% of bacteria on printed material, which could prove significant for sectors like leisure, hospitality, health and education.”
And she points to how UV, traditionally used to cure print, could be a used to sterilise escalators, supermarket trollies and anywhere requiring sanitisation by non-contact disinfectant.
Ms Stefani concluded: “The print sector is a significant contributor to GDP and has proven − especially during this crisis − that everything’s possible.
“As one packaging company said: ‘If you can make doughnut boxes, you can make face shields’.”