VDMA’s Future Workshop and the Printing and Paper Industry in the Years 2030 to 2040

With the aim to develop a mission statement for the years 2030 to 2040 our partner association VDMA, its member companies, the trend research company TRENDONE and the drupa team participated in a future workshop and discussed the influences of social and technological trends on the printing and paper industry.

Which role will printing and paper technology play in a digitalized world? This is one of the questions the participants of VDMA’s future workshop discussed at Messe Düsseldorf GmbH in September. With a view to drupa 2020, our team also contributed to the mission statement for the years 2030 to 2040 developed on this occasion.

No Prospects without Future Perspectives

Together with VDMA member companies, trend researchers from TRENDONE GmbH and students we analyzed the influences of social and technological trends on the printing and paper industry and derived concrete fields of innovation and action. Looking forward is extremely crucial as Dr. Markus Heering, VDMA Managing Director, points out:

”In the daily business routine, the companies often play too little attention to the future. Changes in the market are not only a challenge, but may also offer chances. The companies must identify them at an early stage. Our aim is to develop a joint positive vision for the future of our sector.”

Travelling Time to Embrace the Future

In order to get in the mood for an innovative and predictive day, we did a short time travel to the year 2040 characterized by a networked world full of drones and robots, mixed reality and artificial intelligence. When it comes to print specifically TRENDONE showed us printed cell tissue and completely individualized products.

During some group work periods we identified ten key future trends likely to have a major influence on printing and paper technology manufacturing of which only some are mentioned below:

  1. Despite the increasing amount of time consumers spend online, they are equally expected to have offline breaks and more nature experiences.
  2. Technological advances such as smart factories, artificial intelligence and virtual reality will allow for progressive individualization. This is extremely important since it’s only natural that each individual wishes to stand out from the crowd.
  3. It becomes more and more relevant to react faster to changing markets. Methods like open innovation are highly likely to help companies identify their customer’s needs at an earlier stage and adjust their portfolio and business model accordingly.

How exactly does that affect the printing and paper industry? To name just one effect: Inter alia, print will fulfill even more emotional tasks than it does today and offer people some sort of analogue refuge in a networked society. Also core requirements will have impact on the printing and paper industry as Heering explains:

“In 2040, the basic human needs will be similar to those of today. People will be dependent on the supply of fresh food and in their purchases continue to insist on undamaged products, which can only be mastered with packaging.”

Printed Products Remain Our Everyday Companions

But the most important finding is that printed products will retain their key role in many spheres of life such as the individual design of textiles, rooms, ceramic products as well as electronic decorative or operator panels. We’re very excited to see if these tendencies will already be present at drupa 2020. Until you’re able to find this out from June 16 to 26, 2020 here in Düsseldorf, feel free to gain more insights in the workshop’s results at VDMA’s website.

What do you think: Which trends will shape the printing and paper industry in 2030 or even in 2040? We’re looking forward to your forecasts.