Exploring the potential of dimensional printing

Photos courtesy Agfa Graphics

Photos courtesy Agfa Graphics

By Brent Holmes

Practically every surface is an opportunity to get a printed message noticed. And the more unique a graphic appears, the better the chance of engaging the target audience with an effective call to action.

The objective for most wide-format printed graphics is to sell something. To achieve this goal, the best marketing campaigns entertain, inspire, educate and inform the appropriate consumers.

The job of commercial print service providers (PSPs) is to help their clients hit the mark with such campaigns. This means standing out with technological and creative innovations.

As more commercial PSPs and signmakers are making the leap into wide-format graphics, it is important to understand where the best opportunities are for growth and new revenue streams. Among such opportunities, dimensional printing stands out—in more ways than one.

Inkjet market trends
The wide-format printing sector continues to experience strong growth, due particularly to the development of new markets. As graphics production technology advances, it provides faster speeds and higher quality, allowing it to achieve a great deal of its own untapped potential.

According to studies by printing industry research firm InfoTrends, the International Sign Association (ISA) and the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA), production volumes for wide-format printed graphics in North America are expected to enjoy a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.5 per cent, topping 750 million m2 (8 billion sf) in 2019, up from less than 400 million m2 (4.3 billion sf) in 2014.

Further, Infotrends credits this healthy pace of growth to the discovery of new areas of business. While the most popular vertical markets served by sign and graphics companies include corporate branding, retail and construction, significant opportunities have also arisen in interior design, health care and architecture.

The most common applications, meanwhile, include banners, backlit posters and indoor wall graphics. The fastest-growing include exterior building graphics, while those on the decline include fine art and photographic reproduction.

In terms of substrates for digital wide-format printing, flexible media continue to comprise the majority of today’s market, but the growth of ultraviolet-curing (UV-curing) flatbed and hybrid inkjet presses is supporting an increasing demand for rigid substrates, too.

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