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Strategies for Expanding Capabilities and Technologies

(June 2010) posted on Mon May 24, 2010

The market research presented here covers wide-format printing to see what shifts are taking place during times of economic recovery.

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By Tim Greene

Over the past few years, InfoTrends has been doing a lot of market research with wide-format printing organizations to try to understand the evolution of the markets in terms of production volumes done using the different available technologies, whether screen or digital printing. The economic downturn has had an obvious impact across markets for wide-format printing but one aspect that may be particularly interesting is the impact that it has had on the way wide-format printing is produced.

In some of our most recent work, we have found that demands for certain job attributes, such as shorter turnaround times, shorter run lengths, and the need for application of variable data have all accelerated in the U.S. InfoTrends believes these customer demands have stressed the need for printing organizations to produce wide-format graphics using digital printing equipment, but also drives changes through the types of equipment that can be used.

Erosion from screen printing
Overall, I wouldn’t say that what we’re seeing is any enormous shift on an annual basis, but more of a slow erosion of screen print volume into digital. After all, 60% of the respondents reported they are seeing no change in their screen print volume while 24% reported a decline and 18% reported that their screen print volume has grown. Of course the aforementioned erosion will happen at different rates depending on the type of products being produced, but as it relates to wide-format graphics, there is no doubt that the demands of print buyers are exacerbating the move into digital.

InfoTrends believes that in some way the economic downturn is actually causing an increase in screen printing production, as print buyers are looking for the best available price for some of their wide format needs, and while digital is certainly making improvements in operational efficiency and running costs through ink technologies, screen printing will cost less on a per-piece basis, and that is always going to be one of the buyer hot buttons. Also, the need for lowest available pricing through this economic downturn is likely reducing the opportunity to up-sell print buyers into applications that take advantage of digital capabilities such as the application of variable data.


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