“The aqueous inkjet market has been on the decline, but with the launch of more durable aqueous options, such as latex, this trend could reverse,” said Lance Hutt, global product manager—Digital, Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division.
During SGIA, one of the trends on the floor was a move toward more automated systems, allowing PSPs to increase shop efficiencies and productivity, while also streamlining their workloads. “Our customers have been focused on production efficiency in their print operations, everything from the physical workflow to investments in the areas of new printing platforms that are offering additional productivity. This is allowing them to compete for new jobs and still have a margin required for their businesses,” said Howard.
“Workflow technologies exist in many forms. It’s now time to understand the production process, life cycle and life cycle management of your company and automate this,” said Ken Madsen, president, GSG. “There has been a natural shift with many of our national clients (beauty, cosmetic, fashion, etc.) to focus on reducing costs. To do this we must all automate, utilize and be intimate with the production life cycle to stay healthy in this environment.”
Future Growth Opportunities
Overall, experts are cautiously optimistic about future growth in the wide-/grand-format industry, with a turnaround at the end of 2009 and growth beginning early in 2010. MACtac’s Moore agrees with industry estimates of three to eight percent growth in the coming years.
“As our economy approaches recovery, the market will see a different standard of ‘normal’,” said FASTSIGNS’s Monson. “While growth in this market may not keep pace with predictions from previous years, there is still a demand that we are in a position to meet.”
“The growth in the wide-format printer market will return as the rest of the economy returns to higher levels of expenditures. Those printers that provide the ability to either expand the application range a shop is able to target are always likely to see above market growth, but also those print providers who can add value through conversion and are able to sell the value add will do well,” said Boer.
But what applications show the best opportunities for PSPs? Experts pointed to textile printing, interior and home décor, and POP retail signage as the three main areas of future growth for the market.
“Opportunities lie in providing unique and diverse wide-format products and applications outside of the traditional banners and rigid products that we already provide,” said Monson.
“The growth is in going beyond the boundaries of printing traditional posters and banners. New applications provide new revenue streams yet still allow companies to produce traditional graphics,” said Randy Paar, Display Graphics Product Manager, Océ North America. “Products can yield greater margins than just prints. A printer and digital cutter could be used to manufacture furniture, or instrument panels, or children’s games. Shops with some entrepreneurial spirit should consider that current generation flatbed printers and digital cutters are also manufacturing tools that allow them to produce a product.”
“PSPs are increasingly successful in marketing wallpaper to prospective customers. In general, I think decorative graphics are an area of great potential, especially as media manufacturers offer more sophisticated substrates that are compatible with aqueous and even solvent and UV-curable inks,” said Florek.
“Signs Now sees direct-to-textile printing as an emerging trend,” said Lee Manevitch, technical support director, Signs Now, a division of Allegra Network. “The ability to print directly on textiles means we can offer POP, tradeshow graphics, or even outdoor banners that eclipse other technologies in terms of color range and overall visual effect.”
Neschen America’s vice president of marketing, Angie Mohni, points to the retail sector as a growth market. “Retailers are looking for any way possible to pull customers into their stores. They are using window graphics, floor graphics, portable banner stands, low cost signage, and printable textiles to draw customers in with the hope that they will spend money. Many retailers are advertising a new special every other week so signage promoting these sales must be created,” she said.