The study had a lot of interesting findings regarding applications, technologies, and service. Service, or the ability to meet very tight deadlines, is of course an extremely important part of wide-format printing according to both print buyers and PSPs. Buyers identified it as one of their key vendor selection criteria, and PSPs reported that more than 63 percent of wide-format print jobs have to be turned around in 48 hours or less. Wide-format print buyers said that as much as 20 percent of the jobs they buy are produced either “immediately” or on the same business day as the order is placed. The ability to turn a range of wide-format print jobs or different order sizes around quickly is the reason there is consistently a demand for faster and faster wide-format digital printing equipment.
The last important set of findings from this study that I want to write about are related to sustainability. Sustainability gets a lot of hype in the wide-format digital printing market, I think because of the high levels of use of solvent-based inks and print media and substrates that are challenging to recycle. Forty-three percent of professional wide-format print buyers reported that their wide-format print purchasing reflects a preference for “green” printing, either because it is their own personal preference, or because the company they represent mandates it. Indeed PSPs agreed that their customers are increasingly asking for “greener” printing options and for them to use more easily recyclable print media. For PSPs, the goal of using “greener” inks and substrates would probably be easily achievable if print buyers would bear the premium for these more eco-friendly supplies, but they generally are not. The chart below shows that, even among those print buyers who try to specify “green” printing, they are generally unwilling to pay the required premium for that service. The mean premium these wide format print buyers are willing to pay for “green” printing is just 10 percent, which is often not enough to offset the use of more expensive “green” inks and media.
The finding to the left is one of the reasons InfoTrends is very bullish on UV-curable inkjet as a wide-format graphics print technology. Not only does it offer the opportunity to print directly to rigid substrates, allowing PSPs the opportunity to reduce both labor and materials costs, but the use of variable droplet size inkjet print head technology and improved ink formulations provide better ink efficiency, further reducing the post to produce wide-format graphics. We also see that there are a fairly steady stream of lower-priced wide-format media product introductions that are more environmentally friendly, and we know there are many more to come.
The results of these separate surveys show that PSPs continue to shape their business and operations to meet the demands of customers both from a marketing and operational standpoint.
Editor’s Note: Please see Part One of this research study, looking at who buys wide-format graphics, in the August ebook edition of Wide-Format Imaging. Please see Part Three, focusing on consumers, in the August ebook edition of Wide-Format Imaging.