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Day 7: Charting Wide-Format Printing’s Course – Printer Specs

(October 2011) posted on Wed Oct 12, 2011

14 days of critical information to prepare your business for 2012.

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BPIC: In our July 2011 issue, The Big Picture garnered specs on 130 rollfed printers sold here in the US, and there were some interesting numbers. Any thoughts on any of the following stats from those charts:
* More than a third of all printers listed were introduced in 2010 or 2011 – relatively new introductions to the market. That was also true with the flatbeds we charted the following month, by the way;
* Just over 20 (or 15 percent) utilize UV technologies – that’s double the number since 2008;
* More than a fourth of them are available in widths of 100 inches or more;
* Close to half offer something beyond standard CMYK or CMYKcm inksets; and
* About 20 percent offer white ink.

Dan Marx, SGIA: I think we’ll continue to see new machines hitting the market as companies make incremental changes to the offerings. To me, it’s not surprising that UV-curable ink technologies are increasing in use – UV can be used for a really broad number of applications, and I expect this will only grow. It’s also an environmentally favorable ink system when compared with solvent. Companies are looking to wide solutions, particularly those machines that can run multiple jobs at the same time, offering a great way to increase throughput with only one machine. With the continued rise of grayscale printheads, we’re seeing fewer expanded color sets because excellent color and tonality can be achieved with basic CMYK. White ink, metallic ink, and clear are great add-ons if and when companies can find a way to make the investment in that technology profitable. 

Marco Boer, I.T. Strategies: The life cycle among mobile phones averages about three months. By comparison, the wide-format industry remains sluggish, with average life cycles running about 18 months. In our relatively mature industry, you’ll see more and more differentiation through feature sets rather than breakthrough software of technology as you might see in other electronic industries. One should expect to see even more product line fragmentation and expansion in the future. Ironically this expansion becomes a great cost burden on the supply and support chains of the manufacturers – but yet they can’t stop the momentum due to competitive pressures.