“As the economy picks up we will see printers investing in new equipment. With the emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly products, printers and their customers will be looking for greener printing options as well,” said Avery’s Hutt.
“As the market recovers growth will—perhaps ironically—bring with it more manufacturers, particularly those from Eastern Europe, Korea, and Taiwan. Unlike the Chinese wide-format solvent manufacturers of five years ago who never really gained traction in the US, the new generation of wide-format manufacturers has the benefit of access to better IJ head and ink technology and is unencumbered by a prior reputation,” said Boer. “At FESPA 2009 in Amsterdam there were over 35 UV-curable inkjet manufacturers displaying new UV-curable printer technology. Interest among print providers is high in newer ink technologies—such as HP Latex inks, similar inks which are likely to be offered by other manufacturers in the future—and they will spend money to remain at the forefront of their markets. We believe the sun is rising, and the alternatives available to print providers will become even more varied than they have been before.”
According to Don Knox, US director of sales, Large Format Printing, HP Graphics Solutions Business, there are three major forces driving the future growth in this market. “The first is the conversion of high-quality, long-run applications to digital printing, such as POP advertising. Secondly, there is a substrate substitution from PVC-based materials to lighter, easy-to-handle polyester based materials. Last, digital signage will finally break the barrier of what is creatively possible in a new space, a new format, and through new communication channels,” said Knox.
“In the next 12 months we’ll see several new technologies and initiatives emerge that will shake up the sign industry significantly, and those who are capable of embracing that change will thrive. With the exception of ensuring a ‘green’ product, though, customers don’t care how their sign was produced—they just want it now and they want it done right,” said Manevitch. “Ease of use has improved. Software has improved. Cost has come down so much that there is very little investment required to enter this industry. The differentiator, then, will not be price or equipment but rather the quality of service provided. Those who are willing and able to interface with customers will flourish once the economy rebounds, and those who can’t or won’t deal with customers will be forced to rethink their business strategies.”