Digital Printing to Continue to Take Market Share from Offset Presses

Digital Printing to Continue to Take Market Share from Offset Presses

In 2017, digital printing accounts for 16.2% of the global print market value and 2.9% of the volume. This is up from 2.1% of the volume in 2012, and the transition is accelerating to 3.9% of volume by 2022.

In 2017, litho still dominates the world print landscape in terms of the number of pages printed; and by 2022, it will still account for more than 70% of the world print output, but much litho print is relatively low-value publication printing – such as newspapers, magazines and directories; which are falling – while the most lucrative opportunities lie in value-adding work using digital print.

The relative cost position of analog and digital printing is continually changing as new equipment comes on to the market, and the volumes of toner and inkjet grow while prices fall. This is generally making digital print more cost-effective against traditional analog printing at ever higher run lengths. There is a continuing trend of falling run lengths as print buyers act to make sure their content is up to date and there is pressure to reduce the amount of inventory and work-in-progress. The result is a continuation of the analog-to-digital print transformation.

Digital print has developed significantly from its introduction in the 1970s for transactional print, with color cut sheet arriving in the mid-1990s. Since then, electrophotography and inkjet have enjoyed the lion’s share of the research and development budgets spent on printing technology, pushing the quality, reliability and productivity of systems forward while at the same time reducing the end-user cost of producing print. This has pushed the adoption of the technology into print service providers and packaging converters, initially because of the variable print capability and the economic benefits of low runs. As more end users invest in the technology, they are identifying new market niches and benefits for print buyers, pushing further adoption.

Workflow developments are lowering the transaction costs associated with print, opening new market opportunities to individuals and micro-businesses. Sheetfed litho has benefited as printers group jobs together on large sheets to share the set-up costs. Using high levels of automation is reducing the set-up times and waste, making litho more cost-effective against cut-sheet color toner presses. These incremental developments are mirrored across all printing processes. And many companies are adopting advanced manufacturing techniques to further improve their efficiencies.

The biggest changes are in inkjet, where the achievable quality has greatly improved, along with the reliability and consistency of the printing. The development money in inkjet dwarfs all other technology developments in printing and packaging and this will continue. Single-pass sheetfed and webfed presses are now available and are firmly aimed at most printing applications.

Inkjet is the fastest-growing print process. It is increasingly being adopted in more applications as the quality, reliability and economics of the process improve and expenditure on R&D bears fruit. It is becoming mainstream in low-, medium- and high-volume production, as well as proofing and prototyping.

Inkjet is extremely versatile, with multi-pass traversing heads and single-pass arrays of fixed heads positioned over or beside the print surface – which may not be flat. Wide-format printers have grabbed much of the display market, where high-performance flatbed machines are replacing much screen and litho output.

For inkjet, all end-use sectors are growing. Advertising print – including display and direct mail – is the biggest sector, worth around $38.6 billion in 2017. It will  expand to nearly $50 billion in 2022, although its relatively large base means it will be the slowest growing application for this period.  

The most rapid growth for 2017-2022 will be in packaging – over 20% – as inkjet innovation and new business priorities for brands sees manufacturers invest in new press installations, particularly for volume printing corrugated.This flexible business WordPress theme won’t leave you disappointed! It’s perfect for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, small businesses and start-ups.

Source: Ink World Magazine