Wide-format Printing: What’s next in the graphics market

Photo courtesy HP Canada

Photo courtesy HP Canada

By Chris Morgan
The large-format graphics printing sector is global in scope and continues to see significant developments in research and development (R&D). Early adopters of digital inkjet printing have long been ahead as the technology has become mainstream, with many others following their path. The transition to digital systems has minimized costs, while increasing the potential for higher-value applications.

In a current example of an emerging technology proving complementary to the existing market, more than 60,000,000 m2 (645,834,625 sf) of graphics have already been printed with durable aqueous ‘latex-based’ inks. The quarterly print volume grew by 50 per cent between the third quarter of 2011 and that of 2012.

Even during the recent economic downturn, digitally printed graphics have continued to see steady growth. This progress is due in part to innovations in printing equipment that have yielded higher productivity, quality and versatility, allowing digital systems to handle more jobs that were previously delivered through analogue processes.

Another factor is the growing recognition by major consumer-brand marketers and advertising agencies of the benefits of digital inkjet printing. In increasingly dynamic markets, these businesses need to change their graphics very quickly to display up-to-date and relevant information as they face greater pressures to improve their return on investment (ROI).

Marketers are also buying and integrating more large-format output into their overall advertising campaigns. With the ability to include personalized or otherwise customized content, digitally printed signs and displays can effectively support and extend online marketing efforts—e.g. by including quick response (QR) codes to encourage web traffic.

At the same time, print service providers (PSPs) are learning how wide-format printers can expand their range of products and services for both new and existing customers. As a result, the digital transformation of the printing industry is accelerating.