Wide-format: Get In Before Competitors Do

Are you into wide-format? If not, the following evidence may convince you you’re overlooking a lucrative opportunity, one your rivals may not be missing.

First, the wide-format graphics portion of the market is growing at about 7.5% a year, in contrast to the rest of the market’s flat growth. Second, the gross margin in wide-format digital graphics is twice what offset offers today.

So says Jeffrey Nelson, Business Development Manager, High Productivity Inkjet Equipment with the Graphic Systems Division of Fujifilm North America Corporation (Booth 414) in Kansas City, MO, citing statistics from InfoTrends.

“Wide-format capabilities offer print service providers the opportunity to expand services and sales to their current customers,” Nelson says.

“Most find their existing customer base has current needs for wide-format graphics,” he reports. “If these customers can’t get wide-format graphics from you, they are going down the street to a commercial printer who has embraced wide-format. Now your commercial printing account is under threat as well.”


Opportunities for growth

Another trend is that, using wide-format, PSPs can increasingly become more like marketing communication companies, offering a fuller spectrum of services, including routing, laminating, fulfillment, and finishing, Nelson says.

A wider array of services is also trumpeted by Eric Gutwillig, Vice President of Marketing for Newark, NJ’s Prisco Digital (Booth 201). “Wide-format allows them to provide products they never thought of before, and be a total solutions provider to their clients,” he says. “They can provide all the things traditionally provided by an offset printer, as well as other printed materials in a product campaign, like point-of-purchase displays, signage, and promotional products. They were subbing those out, and now they have in-house capabilities.”

Of course, now that wide-format inkjet machines have become so fast, some of the greatest opportunities lie in variable data and versioning, adds Nelson. “Obviously, because there are not a lot of people who can do this and you are getting away from marketplace commoditization, the premium you are able to command is much higher,” he reports, noting PSPs are doing 500 unique pieces as opposed to competing for a run of, say, 500 pieces.

“Now they’re offering a unique value proposition to their customers.”

Smaller runs are yet another area of demand that can be captured by PSPs with wide-format inkjet machines. Gutwillig points out that because big offset machines cost millions of dollars to purchase, their per-hour cost is in the thousands of dollars. “The cost of doing a few hundred pieces is enormous,” he says. “But you can do a few hundred pieces on a wide-format inkjet system much more affordably. And there are medium-volume systems that fit in the niche and allow you to do several hundred copies quickly and more affordably. Inkjet fills the bill for 400 or 500 movie posters or point-of-purchase displays.”


Innovative materials

Consider, too, the ever-wider array of products appropriate for wide-format machines. Castle Rock, CO’s Master Magnetics (Booth 106) makes available the widest flexible magnetic material in the industry, at 42" wide. The product allows PSPs to print directly to vinyl backed by flexible magnetic material, enabling them to produce magnetic fleet vehicle signage, menu boards, and point-of-purchase displays.

“The wonderful thing about magnets is they can be easily changed out,” says Melissa Thompson, Sales Manager for the Flexible Magnet Products division of Master Magnetics. “If you have a steel surface, and it’s magnetic, you can easily change that out if you decide your graphic needs updating.”

Ultimately, the reason to embrace wide-format is simple. Says Nelson: “The threat is that if they don’t do this, their competitors will be doing it.”