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Industry Roundtable, Day 6: What are the Top Applications for Wide-Format in the Coming Months?

And, are tradeshow graphics heating up again?

Big Picture

BPIC: What are you seeing as the “hottest” applications for wide-format print in the coming 12 months?

Peter Mayhew, LightWords Ltd: Packaging, if you can get a piece of the action. Remember, the key drivers are short run lengths, localization, and just-in-time delivery.

Marco Boer, I.T. Strategies: Probably vehicle wraps. We’ve put the art back into design as it was during the days of hand painting and taken it two steps further. There are more than 1 million tradesmen in the US that someday will all want their vehicles to be moving corporate-identity signs.

Dan Marx, SGIA: I’m a particular fan of the many new materials that are working their way into retail environments, where things like specialty simulated “alligator skin” vinyl and faux-finish overlaminates are being incorporated with printed elements to bring a real “feel” to the space. I see these projects – when executed successfully – as great examples of how designers, print providers, and graphics installers can work together to make something special.

Tim Greene, InfoTrends: I would say that I expect more of the same as we’ve seen this year, but perhaps using textiles, lighterweight materials, and substrates that have more favorable environmental characteristics and also reduce costs to the end buyer.

BPIC: And, earlier this year, one of our publication’s columnists indicated that tradeshows were back – that his shop’s work for tradeshows was up significantly in 2012. Are you seeing this as well across the market?

Greene: Yes, in fact one of our recent surveys found that to be the exact case. Users reported that exhibition and display-graphics work was the fastest-growing application category, more than any other application.

Boer: It turns out that, in this increasingly virtual world, personal relationships and the ability to touch things still matters. Tradeshows – particularly those positioned as learning workshops with the tradeshow floor as the ancillary function – will remain popular. The length of tradeshows will decrease, but the frequency and sectorization will increase. These are all good things for print.

Mayhew: Yes, because marketing has become a necessity for all B2B vertical markets in the current climate, and tradeshows are a key part of the B2B marketing mix.

Marx: Okay, it’s no secret that SGIA runs a tradeshow, and our show is doing well. There are, however, some changes we’ve noticed in tradeshow attendance. First, fewer attendees these days stay the full term at shows. They get in, do their business, and get back to the shop. In that sense, they’ve become more about business and less about networking. Also, companies today have the time (and resources) to go to one – maybe two – events each year, and we’re seeing that the larger, more comprehensive industry shows fulfill that need very well.

This is Day 6 of our Industry Roundtable Q&A. For Day 5, which addresses Critical Issues Facing Print Providers, click here.


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