Ask the Experts: The Reality of Single-Pass Printing
A far-off myth or a looming game changer?
We asked six digital print specialists to respond to the current state of the industry and reveal what we should expect in 2017.
Big Picture: The buzz about single-pass printing continues to build. Do you think we’ll begin seeing significant movement with commercially available systems in 2017? In what market segments do you feel we’ll see them first?
Steve Urmano, Director of Wide Format, InfoTrends: Single-pass was first available in 2014 with Memjet-based systems by various vendors mostly in the architectural and engineering applications using dye-based ink. Last year, HP started shipping the PageWide XL 8500 and XL 5000 series single-pass printers, again with primary focus on architectural and engineering, but also with a secondary focus on poster applications, a form of sign graphics.
The applications and markets are building and picking up steam. Expect more developments in 2017 as new inks and wide-format vendors enter the fray.
Mark Hanley, President, I.T. Strategies: There’s already single-pass in real commercial markets in book printing, transactional printing, and label printing, all of which yield a $1- to $2-billion market just in vendor revenues. It’s the necessary condition of inkjet’s success in the future without any doubt, but people put the cart before the horse if they believe that single-pass architecture can be effective before the chemistry and curing issues of high-speed, high-coverage printing with aqueous inks on coated papers and films have been resolved.
Sean Smyth, Print Consultant, Smithers Pira: The single-pass technology now is proven and reliable. Drupa saw many new sheet and web presses with widths up to 2.8 meters [110 inches] and speeds up to 200 meters [656 feet] per minute (higher in the pipeline). It looks like corrugated will be the next battlefield with many companies in the sector keen to adopt very high-performance inkjet solutions for liner printing and post-print. The giants as well as independents are making investments. The sector is ripe for change.
Tim Greene, Research Director of Hardcopy Solutions, IDC: Single-pass is definitely coming – it’s already a significant factor in the large-format market and in the labels segment, and we expect it to be in the commercial and packaging markets in 2017 and beyond as some of the hardware introduced at drupa comes to market.