Sander Sondaal, Director, Commercial Print Sales, Graphic Communications Group at Ricoh Europe, discusses five reasons why large format supports business resilience.
While key print production markets were heavily impacted by the pandemic, the wide format sector experienced less disruption and is expected to enjoy strong growth in the next five years.
Global consultancy Shingetsu Research predicts a CAGR of 5.4% from 2021 to 2027 for the worldwide large format printer market. It expects it to reach $11.4 billion by 2027 from $8.8 billion in 2020.
Driving this is greater adoption in the advertising, packaging, and textile industries as well as expansion into new and emerging market segments like vehicle wrap, architectural layouts, home furnishing, and décor applications.
This was reflected by a 2% worldwide lift in large format printer shipments according to the IDC. It reported the market returned to pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2021.
There are five reasons why large format has proven to be so resilient:
It was the first technology that businesses and institutions pivoted to when the pandemic hit. It was used to quickly explain and identify what safety precautions to take, where to stand and even where to sanitise hands. It allowed print service providers such as Italian graphic design and print specialist Beepag to develop a new range of products. Others, such as Scottish print and signage solutions specialist Appeal Media, manufactured thousands of hand sanitiser stations for schools and councils to help vital services to remain open while Cartesio Fullcard produced protective visors for Italian healthcare personnel.
The report from Shingetsu Research states the quality delivered by large format systems is instrumental in print operations investing in the technology to help them deliver a broader range of services. The ability to produce high quality images allows specific detail to be shown in an engaging format.
3. Quantity flexibility
Production runs of one to many can readily and cost effectively be produced on wide format systems. However, it is worth noting that Keypoint Intelligence stated that, while there are a lot of different products and run lengths possible, the top line offerings: banners, signs, window graphics, decals, and posters, haven’t changed much regardless of the economic conditions. It found profitability remained strong with the most produced, short run applications. They averaged a gross profit in excess of 50%.
4. Substrate versatility
With an ability to print on almost any surface, UV technology allows print service providers to offer unique products and expand their business in different ways. Systems are available that support print production on roll fed media, as well as rigid media. They deliver the increased flexibility of two systems in one.
5. Application diversity
Traditional applications remain the core business for wide format such as indoor and outdoor signage, Point of Purchase, vehicle wraps, posters, art, event and floor graphics, and décor such as wallpaper. But as previously mentioned the technology can be used effectively in other markets thanks to its versatility. These include short run jobs within the commercial, packaging, label, and industrial sectors, as well as proofing and even printed electronics and RFID conductive products.
Wide format digital print’s strength lies in its ability to enable cost-effective, fast turnaround of orders while at the same time offering environmentally friendly solutions with low power consumption, minimal waste and producing only what is required.