Digital wide format print has come a long way in the past decade. A number of dye-based devices target the creation of computer aided design (CAD) and geographic information system (GIS) documents for the architectural, engineering, and construction industries. Pigment-based aqueous devices feature an improved color gamut for the creation of decorative and advertising graphics.
The aqueous sector largely serves professional and in-house or corporate organizations. Commercial print service providers use wide format output to generate revenue, while the corporate market consists of organizations that purchase wide format printers for internal use.
According to the 2010 Wide Format Inkjet Graphics Forecast, a recent study by I.T. Strategies, aqueous display markets were maturing before the recession and the process accelerated with flat hardware sales over the forecast period and a declining install base. Total revenues for hardware, media, and ink for wide format aqueous printers are forecast to decline from $3.3 billion from 2009 to $2.6 billion in 2014, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of negative four percent. These statistics represent the display graphics market, and do not include the CAD/GIS document market. Growth in this segment is directly related to the health of the economy. The influence of a rebounding economy, coupled with expectations for a strong replacement market, a push for color, and a reliance on mobile and collaborative technologies will aid in the resurgence of this segment.
Aqueous represents a large portion of the overall wide format industry, but new technologies, such as UV-curable, latex, and eco-solvent, continue to gain market share in both indoor and outdoor markets. Ongoing advancements in ink sets, media, and finishing procedures all factor into the durability of a print, enabling opportunities for short-term outdoor as well as indoor graphics.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) Latex Printing Technology is designed for a range of outdoor and indoor applications. Its eco-friendly inks offer the ability to print on a wide range of media; high production speeds; durable prints; outdoor display permanence, up to three years unlaminated and up to five years laminated; and indoor expectancy up to five years unlaminated and ten years laminated.
UV-curable technology is also suited for both indoor and outdoor use, and is generating attention as it is forecast to experience the fastest growth in the wide format market. According to InfoTrends’ Wide Format UV-Curable Inkjet Market Forecast, the total system revenue from wide format UV-curable inkjet printing systems, which includes hardware, ink, media, and the value of service contracts, will grow from $1.1 billion in 2008 to reach $2.33 billion in 2013, a CAGR of nearly 16 percent. Wide format UV-curable technology draws end user interest due to its speed and production efficiencies, as well as its ability to overcome environmental disadvantages associated with solvent printers. New trends include the emergence of UV LED technologies, which are more energy efficient than traditional UV-curing lamps.
For the outdoor market, UV-curable, solvent, eco-solvent, and latex are utilized. Applications such as banners, billboards, vehicle graphics, and building wraps are popular services from print providers in this segment.
Solvent-based inkjet printers are also expected to experience growth. According to I.T. Strategies, solvent inkjet printer unit sales are forecast to grow from 22,709 printers in 2009 to 31,295 printers by 2014, a CAGR of seven percent. Factoring into this projection is the inclusion of eco-solvent and latex solutions as low-level or eco-solvent printers are considered the largest wide format market after aqueous. By 2014, I.T. Strategies expects this segment to become the largest, a position directly related to the addition of latex technology. Solvent-based inkjet remains strong due to its low hardware cost compared to UV, its ability to open up an external and internal market to smaller print shops, and its lower ink prices in comparison to aqueous.
Those interested in adding or expanding digital wide format capabilities have many choices. Based on the application, ink type plays a huge role, as does the choice between flatbed, roll-to-roll, or hybrid devices. Each offers its own set of pros and cons when it comes to quality, productivity, efficiency, and media choice.
In addition to a printing device, automated wide format finishing solutions are important to consider. Cutters, trimmers, and laminators are all valuable tools that easily add to a firm’s capabilities. Whether you’re interested in producing technical documents, point of purchase advertising, banners, vehicle graphics, or packaging, a range of wide format devices provide limitless opportunities. It’s all about further engaging current customers, while attracting new ones. Evaluate current business needs and look for solutions that complement services already in place.
In this issue, we provide a wide format Target Chart. Visit www.dpsmagazine.com for a more comprehensive version. DPS magazine considers printers between 24 to 100 inches in width wide format. dp