In discussing the coming year with ink executives, there definitely is a sense that changes in the market are ahead.
Environmental concerns, price, and the economy are top of mind for many of these executives.
“The growing interest in environmental issues and environmental regulations relating to the composition of the ink, the disposal of leftovers and the empty ink containers are among the issues which the inkjet ink industry is dealing with and will continue to deal with,” said Zach.
“I think that the biggest issues facing the wide- and grand-format market is going to be coming up with inks that are going to have to meet stricter and tighter environmental controls. Right now I believe that California has the strictest controls. It won’t be too long before the rest of the US adopts these rules,” said Andreottola.
“The balance between the demand for digital inkjet inks and pricing of these inks as opposed to conventional printing is a concern for most printers. However the printing quality presented by digital printing which is far better than conventional printing compensates for the relatively high production prices,” said Zach.
“I believe the biggest issue is going to be prices that are going down continuously. This does not help to make new investment to develop new products,” said Pedro J. Martinez, CEO at Afford Industrial S.A.
“The main issue we are hearing from our customers today and are working hard to address is the higher cost-per-copy in digital inkjet printing when compared to traditional screen or offset printing technologies,” said Pericot.
Inkjet ink costs are only one part of puzzle, though. While the economy is rebounding, there is still a lot of instability—which is worrisome to some, especially when you read about a possible “double-dip recession” in the news media. This has led to caution—both from manufacturers and PSPs.
“Sales of both equipment and consumables are trending upward currently. However, future growth may be slowed by economic uncertainty, volatility in the stock market and EU instability. We have been watching unemployment, housing and other economic indicators and are not seeing the uptick that would indicate a full recovery. So, like most businesses, we are approaching the next 12 months cautiously,” said Oransky.
“The recession is still causing financing problems for mid size companies, so users are still holding off on new purchases of big ticket items. We are seeing positive strides in the right direction but it is still a concern for the next 12 months,” said Hutcheson.
“Good finance options, especially for smaller print operations, continue to be a concern because of what has taken place economically across the globe the last two years. Many of these printers continue to have a difficult time getting loans to purchase equipment in the $25,000 to $125,000 range,” said Kisner.
“The recent economic downturn has applied extreme financial pressure to every company in our industry, especially the technology manufacturers. Many recent consolidations and mergers are proving to be bad investments, and the number of viable technology providers will likely shrink over time,” said Ryan. “Only a few companies will be able to provide both service and new technologies as we go forward. This will cause a further shakeout in the manufacturing segment of the market, and ultimately impact the pace of new technology development.”
“The greatest challenge for the digital inkjet market for the next 12 months will be keeping up with the rate at which digital technology is moving. The transition from solvent to UV printing, the ever-changing array of substrates, and the need to match color across multiple print platforms are all issues printers face today,” said Nelson. “Print buyer demands for high quality graphics, cost-effective short print runs, multiple versions and fast turnaround are also challenges. Printers will need to keep in step with print buyers to stay competitive and win business.”