COMMERCIAL PRINTING Outlook -- Shadows Cast on 2006
Forecasts are simply more fun when they include big ideas, even if that does greatly increase the odds of being way off. In that spirit, there's a strong likelihood that by the end of 2006 developments in e-paper technology will have reached the point where a meaningful assessment can be made of its implications for printing. E-Ink, Philips and Siemens are among the companies moving to commercialize small-format applications in the coming year.
It remains to be proven that the format size can be scaled up to become a broad competitor for physical paper. Other questions still to be answered include the cost competitiveness, resolution/visibility, durability and infrastructure requirements of any resulting products.
It could easily be another five to 10 years before any kind of real potential replacement for paper is commercialized, and then an adoption curve of some duration would follow. Given the potential implications of such a sea change, though, it is critical that printers stay up on developments in this arena in the new year—and beyond.