Obviously, this has a tremendous effect on the market as a whole because, just as print buyers don’t want to buy tons of wide-format graphics and warehouse them, PSPs don’t want to buy tons of ink and media inventory until they know they need it.
What all of this means is that the supply chain has been tightened so that everyone from equipment manufacturers, and dealers to PSPs and buyers are all reacting to daily business activities on a on a much shorter basis.
Finally, wide-format graphics print buyers are reporting a preference for green wide-format prints. I’m not exactly sure what that term always means, but the perception is of wide-format prints that are made with VOC-free inks or made on more easily recyclable materials.
Positive Trends = Growth Potential
So what does all of this mean? The way I read it, print buyers are asking for high quality, low prices, fast turnaround with strong eco-friendly properties. Good, fast, cheap, and “green”—that’s no small feat.
From my desk, what these buyer demands mean is that we can project stronger futures for technologies that bring these aspects to the table. This is why we are projecting about a 20 percent growth rate in wide-format UV-curable inkjet. The printers are fast and can be worked with right away, while the image quality is strong and seemingly improving all the time. Also the advances we have seen in UV-curable inkjet are delivering a lot of these advantages.
Most recently, the movement is toward LED curing, which provides even more improved performance through lower operating power consumption (and therefore lower operating cost) and the ability to work with a wider range of substrates. Some of the first production speed, LED curing wide-format printing engines have been introduced here in 2011.
From a graphics perspective, we think that durable aqueous will continue to grow as more vendors offer ink sets that provide very high quality while also offering lower prices and enhanced environmental properties.
Finally, the reformulation of some of the eco-solvent ink sets is also providing the value of high-quality printing, low operating costs, and durable graphics printing. The latest formulations of eco-solvent ink have better environmental properties with reduced hazardous air pollutants and reduced odor.
The last piece of good news from the 2011 wide-format print buyer study is that these buyers strongly endorse wide-format graphics as an effective way to communicate their advertising or informational messages. That is, they plan to buy wide-format graphics because it is a cost effective way to communicate advertising or their informational messages.