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Wide Format Printing, the New Frontier

23 Feb, 2016 By: David C. Ramos

If you’re attending the upcoming ITEX Conference & Expo in March (http://www.itexshow.com) a “must see” session Wide Format Printing the New Frontier: Print Business Expansion from Office to Industrial Solutions" on March 8 is not to be missed.

This is a double session moderated by Frank Cannata, President, The CANNATA REPORT and a distinguished panel of executive industry leaders: Patrick Morrissey, VP, Americas Sales, EFI; Dino Pagliarello, Director, Product Marketing, Konica Minolta Business Solutions; Fabrizio Soto, GM, Wide Format Division, OKI; and John Stevens, VP, Latex Business & Channel Development, HP.

This panel on wide format will explore every facet of wide format from entry level products up to and including industrial printers. The focus of the session starts with the relative merits of each one of the major areas of concentration for inkjet wide format. In addition, it addresses the challenges and opportunities these products represent for independent dealers. During the course of the discussion, many other areas will be touched upon such as the rapid development of technology in this area, the growth opportunities for dealers, and the desirable level of commitment in order to succeed in this area of the print world.

In the InfoTrends “Road Map 2016: Wide Format Printing” written by Steve Urmano, Director of InfoTrends' Wide Format Printing Consulting Service and James Hanlon, Research Analyst for InfoTrends’ Production Printing team, they state: “According to InfoTrends’ 2015 Wide Format UV-curable Inkjet Printer and Supplies Forecast, hardware growth has slowed while media and ink sales continue to ramp up due to higher output machinery being sold. Growth of textile printing continued its deeper penetration in the exhibit graphic and décor markets. Technological growth in wide format UV curable, dye sublimation, and latex continued to make textile related printing a key growth area.”

Products in this Wide Format market show a number of advancements, and there are several trends that are pushing the industry along:

·       UV and LED UV product sales have seen a surge in growth as customers seek speed and versatility when choosing media types to print upon. They also want the ability to personalize and customize the wide range of available advertising specialty items.

·       According to HP, latex sales have continued to grow in placements—making it a number one choice for print service providers (PSPs) and sign shops. According to InfoTrends’ 2015 Wide Format Aqueous Printer and Supplies Market Forecast, latex placements grew approximately 20% and printed pages are reported by HP to have grown at about 50% growth.

·       Consolidation in the dye sublimation ink market accelerated with two larger vendors acquiring or aligning their ink sales with a dye sublimation printer vendor.

o   Dover Industries acquired MS Italy in 2013 and recently completed acquisition of ink company JK Group SPA, which will become an operating company within their Engineered Systems segment. This includes the rollup of Kiian, Sawgrass, and J-Teck ink companies, which occurred earlier in 2015.

o   EFI purchased Reggiani, an established vendor of rotary and wide format inkjet textile printers, in 2015. EFI has also established a strategic relationship with Dupont Textile Printing Inks that includes dye sublimation and pigment inks.

·       SGIA Expo 2015 in Atlanta set a couple of new records; one being the highest attended wide format industry show with 23,000 registered attendees in the Southeast. Another record set was being the highest attended digital printing show in the United States.

·       Increased importance of Wide Format workflow solutions. As the total range of wide format machine types continues to broaden, the need for more integrated and complex workflow solutions is becoming more important. To manage the vast array of substrates and print technologies within shorter runs and slimmer delivery windows, PSPs will continue to look towards workflow solutions more than ever. Solutions that encourage minimal downtime, wide format print consistency, and quick changeover will prove to be the most sought after. Investments into web-to-print and managed information solution software (MIS) will also continue to rise in 2016.

With a CAGR of -5.6% in A3/A4 hardware segments, 1-6 independent office equipment dealers are searching for growth opportunities relative to print to offset the decline. Wide Format offers an adjacent market opportunity vs. making a large leap into say, managed IT services, or an even larger leap into additive manufacturing (3D Printing).

The panel moderator and industry legend Frank G. Cannata, President of The Cannata Report remarks, "Wide Format is an area that offers independent dealers the greatest single opportunity for growth and profit. Primary A3 MFP providers offer a wide format option for many of them. There are also A4 suppliers such as HP and OKI that provide this opportunity as does EFI with one of the broadest possible offerings in inkjet wide format in the industry. Each of these companies (EFI, HP Inc. and OKI Data) along with Konica Minolta did a phenomenal job of making the business case for why independent dealers should consider this space as one of their future initiatives.”

Remarks Steve Urmano, Director of InfoTrends' Wide Format Printing Consulting Service, “Is Wide Format the answer to offsetting A3/A4 equipment decline for your dealership?  This group of industry professionals certainly thinks so. Predictions are just that; ones view of the future; sometimes they are on target and other times they are not. Nevertheless, at InfoTrends, we support our predictions with our forecasts, research, and anecdotal evidence in the marketplace.  And we feel that Wide Format is a viable business opportunity for the independent dealer channel.”


David Ramos is Director of Channel Strategy Service for InfoTrends, the leading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm for the imaging, document solutions, production print, and digital media industries. InfoTrends provides insights and advice to help clients understand market trends, identify opportunities, and grow their business. InfoTrends is a subsidiary of Buyers Laboratory (BLI). For detailed information visit http://www.infotrends.com

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