Wide-format Trends: A Wide-open Opportunity
This is an another reason InfoTrends believes there has been so much interest in UV-curable inkjet printers that offer not only fast speeds, but also instant drying. This means that the prints can be taken right off the printer, cut, shaped, packed and shipped to the end-user locations without having to wait for the graphics to dry or "outgas," as we used to have to do with older print technologies. UV-curable also provides a unique ability to print directly onto rigid substrates, which further increases the speed of production because the mounting step that we used to have to execute can now be eliminated.
InfoTrends believes it is important for print service providers to look at every growth opportunity available to them. Essentially, there are four sources of growth for any business: 1) gaining market share in the markets in which you already participate, perhaps through an acquisition or capturing some of your competitors' customers; 2) taking advantage of the shift from analog to digital printing; 3) developing new markets and producing new applications; and 4) finding new customers by accessing new channels.
The exciting aspect of the wide-format digital printing market is that there are elements of all four of these possibilities within the wide-format business. The technology moves so fast that those with the "latest and greatest" have an advantage over competitors with older equipment because they can offer higher service levels, better image quality and can produce a wider range of applications than those with older equipment.
Digital wide-format printers also offer the ability to provide printing services with valuable characteristics, such as better inventory management through just-in-time production; variable data/versioning; and the application of interactive elements, such as QR codes and personalized URLs. These services help companies take advantage of that analog-to-digital shift.
The technology is also developing to enable the production of new applications. A few short years ago it was impossible to use a wide-format digital printer to print white, but that is now a standard feature on dozens of models. The ability to print white is critical to the ability to produce many window graphics, signs and package prototypes.