Industry Roundtable Day 4: The Most Intriguing Technologies and Products
14 days of critical information to prepare your shop for the year ahead.
Which technologies are on the upswing – and which are on the downswing? What markets and applications look to be hot next year? How much of a role will sustainability play in your company? Which profit centers should you invest in?
Get answers to these questions and many more, from six of the wide-format marketplace’s most informed analysts and consultants. Over the next couple of weeks, The Big Picture will post critical questions with invaluable answers from our panel – all designed to help you ensure that your company charts its best course for a prosperous year ahead.
Each day leading up to the SGIA Expo in Orlando, we’ll feature a round of questions and answers from our panel participants. For this year’s edition of our annual Industry Roundtable, our participants include:
• Lori Anderson, president and CEO, International Sign Association (ISA, www.signs.org);
• Marco Boer, vice president, I.T. Strategies (www.it-strategies.com);
• Tim Greene, director, wide format consulting service, InfoTrends (www.infotrends.com);
• Dan Marx, vice president, markets & technologies, Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA, www.sgia.org);
• Peter Mayhew, director, LightWords Ltd. (www.lightwords.co.uk); and
• John Zarwan, managing partner, J Zarwan Partners (www.johnzarwan.com).
Q What have been some of the most intriguing technologies and products introduced into the marketplace in the past year?
Peter Mayhew, LightWords: This was the year when wide format in commercial applications developed to industrial process and productivity levels. The trend was clearly evident at FESPA in London. HP, Fujifilm, Inca Digital, EFI, Durst, etc. all seemed to have crossed a productivity/quality threshold, which has led them to look for differentiation within the robustness features of the production workflow. Plus, there's the increasing number of printers on the market leveraging Memjet's page-wide technology. There's a niche emerging for these highly productive aqueous products -- specifically some P-O-P/P-O-S projects that may have previously defaulted to offset litho have a better ROI with this hardware. There are also some interesting A/E/C , fast-turnaround CAD niches, which are better suited to these products. But, it all depends on how you account for the capital investment in your hardware.
Marco Boer, IT Strategies: The most visually impressive development we saw at Print13 was the Canon/Oce ColorWave 900 and Xerox IJP-2000 aqueous dye-ink-based printers, printing at speeds that create joy in their usually staid accountant's inkjet ink and coated-inkjet-media revenue budget lines. More pragmatically, the Epson SureColor eco-solvent and HP Latex printers continue to be real workhorses and profit makers for PSPs. UV-curable printers also continue to become more important to shops' productivity requirements.
Tim Greene, InfoTrends: There are a few that we think are good indicators of the market's direction. In the eco-solvent market, we think the Roland units launched at ISA Expo this past spring are really important because of the speed/price/performance that unit has. I also believe that the HP Latex 3000 is an important one because it signals HP's effort to push latex into the higher-volume markets. And the HP FP10000 is important because of its potential in the P-O-P/packaging markets. The flexibility of the ink is key there. And on that note, EFI is another one that has launched an inkset with thermoformability -- which makes it useful in a wide range of flexible media applications. So I guess would say that, generally, advancements in the UV-ink market are important developments.
Dan Marx, SGIA: My interest of late has been on technologies that take the guesswork out of printing and take bits of time that are normally lost within the process and gives them back to you -- allowing you to get more money-making production out of each hour. I also continue to be fascinated by the way companies are mixing innovative ideas, media products, and finishing technologies to create new products. As long as our industry is in this "age of discovery," then I think we're in a good place.
Miss Day 3 of our Industry Roundtable? Click here for our experts' take on: Are commercial printers a threat?