The print industry is no stranger to major upsets, but no one could have predicted the onslaught that was the year 2020. Almost every single industry worldwide has been impacted one way or another by the global pandemic and the print industry is no different. This impact is reflected in the major trends of the year. These trends include a wider adoption of the work-from-home model which dramatically impacted the office printing space, larger printers struggling to make profits while smaller printers are growing, and the beginnings of implementing new innovative technology across the printing space.

Impact of working from home on the print industry

working from home printing

During the height of quarantine most countries adopted the work-from-home model where possible to try and help limit the spread of the virus. The short-term consequence of this meant that office printers saw a dramatic decline in print production. Unfortunately for these printers, more and more businesses have seen large benefits in their productivity with this new work model and many are likely to keep this work structure to some capacity after the pandemic is over. Of course, this does mean that there was a large uptick in home printers, but this increase in personal print products does not seem to have created any real equilibrium in the printing market. This is most likely due to the cost of inks which would make a individual less likely to print items at home if they can just view it on screen.

Large vs Small Printing companies

The struggle of large printing companies to make profits has been a consistent trend over the past few years. The Covid pandemic only exacerbated these issues facing the larger printers who are not as capable to deal with massive changes in the industry when compared to smaller printers. This doesn’t mean that smaller printers necessarily had it any easier. The pandemic affected all areas of marketing, especially print marketing with people being ordered to stay at home. Smaller printers however are more adaptable and have a better chance of being able to find new avenues of print production to help keep them afloat.

New Printing Technology

Gold ink printing

In the last few years there has been a lot of innovation in the digital printing space, namely the wider adoption of specialty digital inks. 2020 was the first year that we saw digital printing companies really embrace these new inks which include the likes of metallic inks, opaque white inks, and now neon colour inks. These new inks allow digital printers to compete with offset printing in the colours that they can now produce. Prior to these innovations in ink, digital printers were mostly confined to the standard CMYK printing.

There has also being progress made with inkjet printing. Memjet is positioning itself to be at the forefront of this inkjet innovation, offering faster printing with better colour quality. While it wasn’t quite widespread in 2020, 2021 is looking to be a great year to see the progress of this new printing technology.

Conclusions about the print industry in 2020

In general, it has not been a great year for print. The reality is the pandemic hit the print industry hard as many of the larger printers, especially ones dedicated to office printing, saw a large drop in their sales and revenue. That’s not to say that it was all doom and gloom. Smaller printers, while also struggling with the weight of the pandemic, were better positioned to adapt to this new reality and in general fared better than the larger printers. This was also the first year that we got to see the digital printing innovations of the past few years being more widely adopted and used to create more unique and interesting printed materials.