Technological Developments — More Changes Reshaping the Industry
Digital ink-jet wide-format printing is another market segment that was not covered in the PI print version analysis. Digital wide-format equipment from 24 inches to several feet wide, using six or more colors producing images that are better than photographic quality, have become relatively commonplace in the United Staes. It is anticipated that the number of manufacturers offering a proliferating variety of wide-format brands and models will peak at Drupa ’08. As the market becomes saturated and gradually but globally becomes a replacement market subject to digital electronic and e-paper substitution, look for a shakeout and manufacturer consolidation starting in 2009.
Two potentially disruptive technologies were unveiled at Graph Expo ’07—Pantone’s new color matching system and a new file format from Microsoft, which is a part of the Windows Vista structure. Both are somewhat controversial. While both intend to overcome limitations of current approaches, their implementation could result in as many new problems as the old problems they intend to cure.
Pantone’s new system for specifying color, the first major change since the introduction of its spot color matching system 45 years ago, took the printing industry by surprise. The aftermath of the announcement leaves some doubt as to the broad acceptance of the expanded approach to color specifying. Designers polled after Graph Expo said they like the fact that the new system is based on 2,058 colors as compared to the 1,114 colors in the old Pantone system. Designers also like the fact that the new system gives them more color specificity and, at the same time, more color flexibility, as well as an improved color communications tool.
Designers seemed to be better informed about the new system; some printers queried after Graph Expo were not aware of the existence of Goe. Few printers seemed to understand it and those that did questioned its bottom line value. The fact that the number of stock inks required for Pantone color matching is reduced from the old system’s 14 to Goe’s 10 received a “ho hum” reaction.