ESMA commemorates 30 years of service

By Otis Robinson 30 July 2020
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The European Specialist Printing Manufacturers Association (ESMA) will commemorate 30 years of continuous service in 2020. Representing screen and digital inkjet technologies, the company says it looks to the next decade with optimism.

However, in compliance with government guidelines on safe events, ESMA has postponed its 30th anniversary General Assembly to 2021 when the occasion can be marked with strong member attendance. This follows several industry conferences and trade shows having postponed their events to uphold the safety of attendees.


Founded in 1990 in the UK, ESMA was a supplier-led initiative to stimulate the growth and potential of screen printing. Originally a collective effort of Europe’s major screen-printing suppliers, ESMA has grown to become an important figure within the industrial printing industry.

Over the years, the organisation has established itself as a community of major industry players and partners for a number of recognised research institutes, while building opportunities for industry to excel through education and collaboration.

Currently, the association counts 67 member companies, with Zeller+Gmelin and Ricoh as its latest additions.

Dominiek Arnout, head of business development, EMEA, at Ricoh Europe, says: “Ricoh decided to join ESMA to engage in the strong network supporting both screen and digital printing. As a technology provider to the inkjet industry, Ricoh’s industrial print division wants to help customers to generate all possible benefits of going digital, particularly in the textile sector. Contacts facilitated via ESMA will help Ricoh understand the detailed needs of the market.”


ESMA claims that, of its many achievements, its conferences stand out, valued for their highly technical content and international networking opportunities. Those include the Advanced Functional and Industrial Printing Conference, which will hold its fourth edition in 2021; The Inkjet Conference (TheIJC), which is on track for its seventh edition in the autumn of this year (2020); and the Printed Interior Decoration and Direct Container Print events, which were established in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Additionally, the ESMA Academy, inaugurated in 2017, remains a successful educational series organised at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation, the organisation says.

Debbie Thorp from Global Inkjet Systems and current chair of the ESMA board, says: “For over 30 years ESMA has successfully adapted and diversified through innovation and partnerships to continue to provide valuable services – not only to its membership – but also to the wider printing community through its Knowledge Hub and industry-leading conferences.

“The ESMA has always remained the same – to promote specialist printing processes, both screen and inkjet.”

As part of its 30th anniversary celebrations, the organisation’s key figures have shared their experiences and outlooks for the future.

Bryan Collins, previously general secretary of ESMA and currently publisher of Specialist Printing Worldwide, explores his experiences working with the organisation: “Working for ESMA was a privilege and introduced me to so many genuine businesspeople in our specialist printing community. The organisation has come of age over the last decade and now offers its members great networking facilities and marketing opportunities through its seminars. With my Specialist Printing Worldwide hat on, we are proud to be partners of such a great organisation as ESMA and look forward to a great future together.”

Peter Buttiens, chief executive officer (CEO) at ESMA since 2007, suggests the organisation’s key focuses of screen and inkjet printing technologies will carry it forward into the future: “ESMA [is positioned] at the forefront of the European industrial printing sector. Screen and inkjet are the two pillars which carry the association and fuel our continuous search for new, exciting technology applications. From industrial decoration to functional printing, we maintain an ever-expanding focus on various markets.”

Elsewhere, Walter Frick, ex-Marabu and so-called founding father of ESMA, examines the fast development of the industry over the years: “How much has changed in our industry during these 30 years? Nearly everything! The technology has permanently been improved, the machines and printing materials have completely changed, and the markets have moved from graphic applications towards many high-tech industrial operations.

“ESMA members are working together for the benefit and further growth [of the industry, and that] has not changed since the very beginning in 1990, when we started to create a platform where all suppliers, competitors or not, could meet and discuss.”


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