Printing trend in 2016

December 16, 2016
Qprint

Taking a look back at the last 12 months in print, Rob Fletcher speaks to some of the largest manufacturers and suppliers in the industry to pick out the key trends from the past year and how such movement has impacted the global market.

Demand for digital has also grown this year; while people used to look at digital as something on the side before, it is now becoming the main technology for many businesses

We are seeing small-medium PSPs happily diversifying and adding new added-value printed products to their menu of services just by investing in one flexible wide-format printer

Personalisation and mass customization continue to be a major global consumer trend and the growing demand for bespoke, customized products has had a significant influence on the print sector this year.

Sustainability and personalisation are key elements of the megatrends implemented by 3M that define the cultural and economic future of the industry and heighten the importance of choice and control

The continued impact of FESPA Digital in the market was reflected in the fact that it was our largest Digital event to date, covering 42,000sqm, representing growth of 159% from the very first event in 2006.

2016 has proved to be one the most turbulent years in recent memory. While the future of the European Union remains in the balance following the UK’s decision to exit, the US also faces uncertain times as Donald Trump prepares to take over as President early next year.

However, despite ongoing concerns as to the impact these key events could have on the print market, the industry has remained strong and continued to do what it does best – create and innovate. Over the past year, we have seen a whole host of new launches from some of the biggest brands in the industry, showing just how much confidence there is in the print market.

Here, we speak to some of those manufacturers to find out a bit more about their year in print, what major trends have they identified and they intend to address demand in these sectors, and where do they stand ahead of what looks set to be another turbulent year for the wider market.

Addressing new segments

One of the biggest names in the global print market is HP and will be one of many major names in attendance at FESPA 2017 next year. Michael Smetana, head of marketing, graphics solutions business EMEA at the manufacturer, speaks very positively about the past year at HP, explaining that the company has been able to continue its focus of ongoing innovation.

“Our graphics business had a great year and we showed plenty of innovation,” Smetana said. “It was a major year for trade shows, such as FESPA Digital, and also a year that we tried new things. We are very committed to this industry and always looking for new segments to address, such as packaging, and sign and display.

HP Latex was also big for us this year; I think we have disrupted the market with this technology, and we have kept the promises we have made. It’s a very flexible solution, high quality and has great sustainability; there are more than 38,000 installations worldwide.”

Printing Trend in 2016

HP unveiled an entry-level Scitex industrial flatbed and a new inkset at FESPA Digital 2016 targeted at mid-level sign and display printers.

In terms of trends from the past 12 months, Smetana said an ongoing upturn in demand for digital print technology, as was as an increasing call for corrugated packaging, has helped drive business at HP.

“Corrugated packaging is a huge opportunity and, in our opinion, we are the only brand to have shown solutions that are ready for uses in this sector,” Smetana said. “Demand for digital has also grown this year; while people used to look at digital as something on the side before, it is now becoming the main technology for many businesses.”

And while Smetana acknowledged that exterior factors may have an impact on the print market, he said the industry has survived challenges in the past and is confident that companies will continue to flourish.

“As we know from the past, worldwide political and economic situation influence the wider print industry, especially in terms of the global spend in marketing and signage, and this has an impact on our customers.” Smetana said.

“While events like this do impact us, and that of our customers, with business slowing down in response, we see things get back to normal quite quickly and people refocus on their businesses.

“In the last 10 years, what we have seen with economic and political challenges is that people adapt quickly to the new situation, and always see the opportunities. We are in the communications business, and whether it is good or bad news, people need to communicate.”

“Our data suggests people are a lot more optimistic about spending and, with good momentum from FESPA Digital in 2016, we are looking forward to a positive 2017.”

An exciting year behind us, and an exciting year to come

Another major manufacturer that is heading into 2017 with plenty of optimism is Roland DG, whose head of marketing EMEA, Gillian Montanaro, described 2016 as a “really exciting” year for the company. Highlighting the launch of a number of new products.

Montanaro said: “The year got off to a cracking start with the launch in January of the VersaUV LEF-300; the high-production flagship model in our popular VersaUV range of flatbed UV-LED inkjet printers.”

“September was a further milestone in the TrueVIS story when we expanded the range to include the SG series; offering customers starting out in wide-format print production or those extending their existing wide-format production, the increased efficiency, reliability and quality of print output.”

While much of the industry’s focus may have been placed on the new solutions, Montanaro explains that Roland DG was looking back, monitoring trends and movement to help identify future opportunities.

Montanaro said: “Personalisation and mass customisation continue to be a major global consumer trend and the growing demand for bespoke, customised products has had a significant influence on the print sector this year.”

“Print service providers (PSPs) are looking for devices, which can deliver single item, short-run and longer-run production with minimal set-up, effort and cost across a wide range of applications.”

Roland DG

“This is where Roland is really well-positioned to support PSPs; with machines, inks and software that are suited to a diverse range of print output and offer flexibility in terms production; whether it’s producing a one-of-a-kind unique item or much longer print runs, profitably and efficiently.”

Montanaro went on to say that all of this has been possible despite a feeling of uncertainty across the wider world: “It’s pretty safe to say that 2016 has brought its fair share of uncertainty, and though it remains to be seen how profound and long-lasting the economic impact will be in reality, there is understandably a degree of caution in the market.

“Nonetheless, we are still seeing many customers looking to invest in new technology as there continues to be profitable opportunities for diversification with digital print.”

Diversification remains the key to cusses for print companies

Another major brand and FESPA regular that has had a busy 12 months is Epson, which launched a number of new print products this year. Phil McMullin, sales manager for professional graphics at the manufacturer’s UK division, points to the roll-out of the new SureColor SC-S80600 64-inch eco-solvent printer as one of the major highlights for Epson.

McMullin said: “The market was thrilled with the quality, speed, flexibility and reliability with customer demand still outstripping supply at year end. In this one machine, Epson has given PSPs everything they need to produce external and internal signage and wallpaper/wall vinyls in fabulous quality on the widest range of media.

Particularly attractive is the ability to print on lowest quality monomeric substrates without sacrificing quality – and that has been a major breakthrough.

“Another highlight was the launch of the SureColor SC-P10000 and SC-P20000 aqueous wide-format printers. The SC-P20000 is a big step forward and our first aqueous production printer for high-quality reprographics. Since we launched it earlier in the year we have had huge success, installing fleets into leading photo studios and web-to-print canvas photo printing enterprises.”

Considering the wider print market, McMullin picks out some of the key trends identified by the manufacturer this year, explaining how the firm has been able to address demand with its solutions.

McMullin said: “I would say that for Epson particularly, it was the revitalisation of eco-solvent as a highly effective, high quality and high production inkset, following the launch of the SureColor SC-S range of printers.

Plus, we are seeing small-medium PSPs happily diversifying and adding new added-value printed products to their menu of services just by investing in one flexible wide-format printer.”