According to a recent research by Key Point Intelligence, the wide-format printing market continues to surprise the industry stakeholders with innovations, driving productivity and continued growth. The research team sees a range of new products and solutions that revitalize the sign and display segment, as well as taking these technologies into new markets such as textiles and functional printing. The “2016 to 2021 Wide-Format Forecast” provides insight into the dynamics in wide-format printing.
The research suggests that the wide-format segment, especially with a large installed base, doesn’t grow much, with a projected -1% CAGR from 2016-2021; however, there are undercurrents changing the dynamics for print providers. Taking a closer look at the range of inkjet-based technology prevalent in this industry, there are several key trends aimed at:
- Improving productivity
- Wider range of media support
- Improving workflow
- Product availability for a range of PSPs and applications
Reveling further, the research underscores that Aqueous wide-format printers are passing through wave of growth and decline, wherein multi-pass printers are expected to face moderate declines through 2021, while single-pass are indicating increased sales and total print volume. Aqueous multi-pass machines are growing in the low-end “prosumer” category; this $1k segment includes printers by Epson and Canon.
Aqueous single-pass is seeing around 40% application usage in production graphics, with the remaining 60% production technical applications. Reprographic companies are seeking colour poster and temporary signage works to fill their spare capacity. HP’s Page Wide is leading the pack, while Canon’s Oce Color Wave offers unique attributes. This crossover is blurring market lines, and changing PSP outreach besides transforming end-user consumption patterns. Single-pass wide-format printers can improve productivity, and may be suitable for many environments, the report hints.
Latex has slowed from previously stated 15%+ CAGR, but it is still maintaining healthy growth. Much of latex is also expected continued developments in workflow and productivity, owing to HP’s integrated Print OS system.
Solvent is losing ground to all technologies across the spectrum. While Aqueous wide-format is eating out solvent market share in the low-end temporary signage segment, Latex allows for placements in small PSP shops and design studios. Further, the drop in UV price points is forcing solvent machines to experience the strain. However, not all is that grim, as solvent is still hanging on with low-cost machines and inks, indicating a healthy market share in emerging markets, and a continued use for vehicle wraps.
Sublimation printing has added to the growth of the signage sector. While sublimation growth has slowed down because of the introduction of Latex and Flex UV inks, sector growth is still showing surge in the projection. Responding to this change, manufacturers of solvent machines have repositioned their products for this market by including bulk ink systems, and some have in-line heat fixation units. At the same time, larger format, 5-meter-wide machines are being developed for increased productivity of soft signage applications.
UV is continuing its growth as LED-UV technology is spreading across all products. At this point, UV is well-positioned to replace the high-end solvent segment. New UV flex inks are expanding applications where the inks can stretch up to 400%. This is especially useful for printing on fabrics, and for creating vehicle wraps. One technology to watch will be Canon’s Oce Colorado UV GEL Ink market acceptance. GEL inks are claiming 40% lower ink costs and higher through-puts. The wide range of media UV printing supports also continues to grow, with devices now printing on metals, woods, plastics, and glass.
Digital wide-format printing is an evolving and intricate sector, with continued developments in supported media, workflow, and productivity. From the low-end to the high-end, there are wide-format printers to suit every PSP’s need. Key segments are seeing growth, while other, more aged technologies are in decline. On a whole, digital wide-format printing will continue to be a key sector in the printing industry for the foreseeable future, as it remains a stable market into 2021.