Wide-Format Printing Market Buzzing with Future Growth
The wide-format printing market continues to surprise us with innovations that drive productivity and continued growth. The Keypoint Intelligence 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.
This segment, 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. If we take a closer look at the range of inkjet-based technology in this industry, we see several key trends aimed at:
- Improved productivity
- Wider range of media support
- Improved workflow
- Product availability for a range of PSPs and applications
Aqueous wide-format printers are seeing growth and decline: multi-pass printers are seeing moderate declines through 2021, while single-pass are seeing 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 (Booth 831), and Canon (Booth 1213).
Aqueous single-pass are seeing around 40% application usage in production graphics, with the remaining 60% production technical applications. Reprographic companies are seeking color poster and temporary signage works to fill their spare capacity. HP’s (Booth 613) PageWide is leading the pack, while Canon’s Oce ColorWave offers unique attributes. This crossover is blurring market lines, and changing PSP outreach and end user consumption patterns. Single-pass wide-format printers can improve productivity, and may be suitable for many environments.
Latex has slowed from previously stated 15%+ CAGR, but it is still maintaining healthy growth. Much of latex is also seeing continued developments in workflow and productivity, thanks to HP’s integrated PrintOS system.
Solvent is giving up ground to all technologies across the spectrum; aqueous wide-format is eating at solvent market share in the low end temporary signage segment, while latex allows for placements in small PSP shops and design studios. As UV price points drop, solvent machines are experiencing the strain. Not all is grim, as solvent is still hanging on with low-cost machines and inks, seeing 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 because of latex and flex UV inks, sector growth is still increasing. 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 reporting 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, there are wide-format printers out there 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.