What does the future hold for wide-format digital imaging? Greene offers predictions about where technology, consumables, service, and more are headed.
By Tim Greene
So, why water-based inkjet when there is so much happening in the UV-curable market? Well, I think there is a lot of room for growth in both. There certainly is a tremendous amount of activity in the UV market, and I think it is clear that is where a great deal of the wide-format market is headed. But if the question were about what’ll be the next big thing, I’d suggest that we’re going back to the future with a new version of water-based inkjet that meets today’s requirements for low running costs and higher environmental standards.
What I am hearing is that many printing establishments are going back to their tried-and-true brands for wide-format media. It seems that many of the new suppliers and new dealer and private-label brands (frequently called white box brands) have not proven to be reliable or consistent in terms of the quality and performance needed. In North America, that means companies that have been important suppliers to the wide-format-digital market in the past, such as InteliCoat and Neschen, are well positioned.
Also on the print-media front, important vinyl suppliers such as 3M, Avery, Oracal, and others, while having to adjust to a different pricing structure that was forced on them by im-ported vinyl media, have all brought—or will bring—more new products to market that meet the need for low-cost, short-term promotional graphics.
I look for three things in media: more low-priced print media from the market’s most prominent suppliers, media suppliers focusing on options for green media, and more media suppliers providing specific recycling and reclaiming programs for their substrates.
Some companies have done a good job historically of teaching customers how to get more engaged in specific wide-format-digital applications in order to help them grow their businesses. In my view, this is the kind of marketing assistance that helped make Roland number one in the eco-solvent inkjet-printer segment for the past couple of years.
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