The international focus of this highly specialized industry provides the engine for its entire manufacturing system. The Italian market, with sales equivalent to just 30% of total turnover, represents just a small cog in this huge wheel of overseas revenue.
The brand names on these top-of-the-range products, which include printing, pre-printing, and paper and cardboard converting machines, come with a technological legacy that has acquired and developed expertise in foreign lands. The map of export markets includes Asia and Central America, which can clearly be viewed as the two most important outlets: the increase in exports for 2010 was 80% for the former continent and 23% for the latter. From January to September last year, the sales of Italian printing and converting machines world-wide rose overall by 18%, and imports were up by 20%. The same trend was repeated in October: exports +18.5%, imports +20.1%.
This growth, according to provisional data from Acimga (www.acimga.it), will continue to be sustained in 2011, with the turnover and volume of export sales due to rise further, balancing out the effects of a virtually immobile domestic market. In this sector, as in few others, it is possible to show that the formula for success definitely lies in internationalization. On the technical front, this progress abroad has allowed the industry to make a name for itself. New prototypes and technologies are able to exploit a whole collection of studies carried out by the sector world-wide.
A prime example is Moscow, which has now become a centre of excellence for research. An Italian Technological Centre for printing and converting has recently been opened at the Moscow State University of Printing Arts. Acimga, together with the Italian Trade Commission and the Italian Ministry for Economic Development are partners in this project, and will collaborate in developing cutting-edge technological systems for both the printing and converting divisions. A second top-class technological laboratory is being opened in Shanghai, viewed by operators in the sector as one of the most important hubs for international development.
Guido Corbella, the General Secretary of Acimga, the trade association for manufacturers of printing and converting machines, considers that development on this front is an important priority. He explained: “In this period of huge transformation in the international markets, plans must be put into effect for monitoring the emerging economies. We represent a sector mainly composed of technology-based SMEs, which have managed to achieve positions of leadership and make a significant amount of their revenue overseas. The collaboration with the Italian Trade Commission is vital for a sector which exports more than 70% of its national turnover.” Commercial ties therefore play a vital part in expanding the industry’s network of activity. Acimga has already been able to build up relationships with Confindustria Federmacchine (the machine-makers’ federation), Federazione della Filiera della Carta e della Grafica (the federation for the paper and graphics sector) Tavolo Filiera della Carta (the Italian paper-makers’ association), Eumaprint, Globalprint, and the Istituto Italiano Imballaggio (Italian Institute of Packaging). The new partners, headed by the Italian Trade Commission, will certainly help to consolidate the ranks of an Italian sector which could well become one of the most competitive on the world stage.