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PRIMIR Study Identifies Digital Printing Tipping Points

February 15, 2011
RESTON, VA—Feb. 15, 2011—In late 2009, PRIMIR commissioned IT Strategies to investigate the digital printing market and provide insights into why the much anticipated tipping point hasn’t occurred, when it might, and where opportunities exist today.

The key objective of the PRIMR “Megatrends in Digital Printing Applications” study was straightforward: Evaluate 12 major print applications and determine which (if any) will migrate from analog to digital production printing, when, and why?

The study focused on: books, catalogs, direct mail, labels, magazines, manuals, marketing collateral, newspapers, packaging (folding cartons and flexible), and specialty printing such as calendars, photo books, etc.). The study quantifies the page volume and rate of transition from analog to digital production printing for each application. The research was limited to production printing, and excluded any equipment under $50,000 in acquisition cost as well as desktop printers or copier/MFP devices.

A surprise finding of the research: few of the 12 applications studied will tip within the time period of the study (by 2014). Some have the momentum to possibly tip by 2020 or later, but the tipping point for most of the applications is decades away, if at all. However, digital printing has made some serious inroads in the non-publishing related applications, especially where there is opportunity to add value thru complex variable-data content. Book printing, however, is the one publishing application that has embraced digital printing and will continue to see positive growth.

According to Marco Boer, vice president, IT Strategies, and principle researcher on this study, “A more important finding is that the analog production page volume is shrinking independent of digital production print volume growth. In fact, while digital production printing in North America is forecast for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5 percent thru 2014, it is from a very small overall volume base (22 billion in 2009 to 33 billion pages in 2014). Despite the relatively small volume, the value of those North American pages, including value-added services is much higher than analog. Analog printing will see a negative CAGR (-5 percent) for the same period.

The study also notes that many digital pages are bypassing digital production print entirely and shifting to decentralized self-print in the office in very short runs using copier/MFP or desktop printers or to electronic alternatives.

Over the course of eight months, IT Strategies conducted extensive research with experts, printers and customers via e-mail surveys and personal interviews—over 900 respondents in total.
 

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