5 Emerging Innovations for Wide-Format Printing

Is your shop capitalizing on these developing trends?

Wide-format printing has gained momentous popularity. From wrapped buses and seamless murals to giant window vinyl and construction barricades, this format can be seen just about anywhere. Thanks to high-quality, cost-efficient printing in short runs, the future is wide open for this industry. In fact, according to MarketsandMarkets, the large-format printer market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4 percent, from $8.37 billion in 2016 to $10.59 billion by 2023. With technological barriers and high printing costs no longer in play, businesses are free to apply this format to their own branding and marketing strategies, and as the industry rapidly heads toward 2020, the innovations are only going to get more sophisticated. So, what can we expect from wide-format printing over the next few years?

Textiles

When it comes to printing on fabric, screen printing remains the option of choice, but digital printing is a viable solution for short-run, high-turnaround production. Textile signage is especially valued by retailers, exhibitors, and designers because of its softer, organic features that can be used to customize any environment. Digital large-format printing can be applied to a wide range of fabrics such as cotton, polyester, and silk. Personalization is popular, so wide-format printing is particularly suited for this ever-growing, in-demand market. Customization capabilities are varied, with applications including fashionwear, upholstery, wallpaper, retail signage, and canvas. Other advantages to fabric printing include lightweight and flexible properties that facilitate shipping and reduces its costs. Textile printing is leading to the overall growth of the printing sector thanks to its ability to stretch over a multitude of objects. [Editor’s note: Check out our March 2019 soft signage feature and November/December 2018 Interior Décor + Textiles Special Edition for more insight into digitally printed textiles.]

Short Runs

Through digital technologies, the wide-format printing sector can offer the benefits of short-run jobs that adeptly navigate demographic adaptation and market trends. Faster and more efficient production has led to an increase in wide-format print output – up to 1000 square feet per hour – enabling companies to reduce packaging inventory and stock holdings. The digital print revolution also allows for variable data printing options that eliminate time consuming customization by programming tailor-made runs for individuals, seasonal periods, regions, or special events. 

Single-Pass Printing

High-speed, one-pass production printing is transforming productivity for wide-format printing at reduced overhead costs. As the demand for faster turnaround times grows, this benefit is proving invaluable. Single-pass inkjet printers first came onto the scene in 2013, and notable improvements in durability and quality have been made since then. Versatile inks have also been developed for use on a variety of media as a way to improve total print volume. Coming to market this year are inkjet printers with dryer technology designed to increase ink coverage. At the moment, these single-pass, wide-format printers are being utilized for the production of quality, wide-format banners, canvases, signs, and floor graphics.    

UV Printing

UV printing is expected to replace high-end solvents with UVgel inks that will lower costs by up to 40 percent. These UV inks are showing great flexibility in wide-format printing thanks to their fast-drying capabilities that can be applied to a broad range of materials such as fabrics, glass, plastics, metals, and even wood. Other popular technologies include LED-based UV systems with curing capabilities that eliminate the need for traditional, damaging heat. These UV-curable technologies will be ideal for the outdoor sector, like vehicle and exterior building wraps.

Print and Cut

Diversification of the print and cut industry has broadened a large range of wide-format applications. Among the most popular are vehicle wraps that use eye-catching graphics, window tinting, and protection films. However, today’s technological advances mean that a wide variety of materials, such as reflective films, heat transfer materials, and cardboard, can now be printed and cut in wide format. Integrated printer/cutter machines can also customize stunning, decorative elements on large-scale, die-cut window promotions and interior wall graphics.


 

Phil Bagdasarian is the co-founder of Packwire, an online printing and packaging service that enables businesses to create their own box design, including branded mailers, folding cartons, shipping boxes, and gift boxes.

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