According to their new study, The Future of Inkjet Printing to 2017: Global Market Forecasts, inkjet is growing because it provides significant advantages across many supply chains.
Inkjet printing is not a discrete market, and the technology is used in many diverse applications using very different types of equipment and materials. Inkjet is also used in textile printing, industrial decoration for glass, ceramics, flooring and synthetic building materials. It is used in manufacturing display screens, photovoltaics and some electronic products and there is great potential for inkjet to be used as a manufacturing process for precisely applying small quantities of material in additive deposition processes.
This inherent flexibility has attracted the attention of many leading print equipment suppliers and they have invested a great deal of money to develop new printing systems, much more than in any other printing technology. The prize is not just a press sale; many vendors will also provide ink and service over the life of a press with attractive margins available on inks.
Inkjet print market applications development, 2007-17 (by end-use value)
Source: Smithers Pira
Inkjet is a small proportion of global print and printed packaging. In 2011 it accounted for some 4.2% of print value and just under 0.5% of the volume. It is attractive to suppliers because the sector is growing strongly while conventional print volumes fall. The inkjet market will still account for less than 1% of print volume by 2017, but will be nearly 7% of the market value.
Signage is the largest market sector for inkjet, representing 57% of the value in 2011. But this proportion is steadily falling as the technology is taken up to print books, transactional and direct mail, packaging and labels, and commercial products, which are all growing strongly. Signage was the first market to use inkjet following the launch of the first wide-format presses in the 1990s. It was competitive against screen printing and inkjet has replaced much screen capacity for signage with the sector targeted by many commercial printers. The equipment used ranges from low-cost traversing head machines to 5m-plus grand-format printers and high capacity flatbed machines where the bed moves under a fixed array of inkjet heads to build up the image with quality determined by the number of passes.
A rapidly changing sector is ceramic tile printing, where inkjet provides many economic and production benefits over screen printing. The technology's greater flexibility includes infinite variability of natural designs to the edge of the tile, faster response times and lower breakage levels. For rotary screen printing a job changeover can take a day; while every tile can be different in inkjet, which makes short runs more economic.
There are some 600 inkjet print lines installed, with sales in 2012 of 500 more systems predicted, ranging from $350,000 (e274,000) up to $1.5 million. The other area growing rapidly is textiles, where digital printing is taking off with new, faster technology coming on stream.
Inkjet is well established in signage and point-of-sale using wide-format equipment, but the really dynamic sector is in high-speed inkjet, with many print providers moving away from high-volume mono laser printing.
Aurelio Maruggi, vice president of HP's high-speed production solutions, says that high-speed inkjet is now part of the mainstream, with HP having installed over 50 of its high-volume inkjet press lines. In 2011 HP reported that the print volume from its inkjet presses was 459% higher than in 2010, with well over 8 billion pages printed across the year.
Inkjet is being used in magazine production, with 300,000 copies of the November edition of Popular Mechanics magazine sent to US subscribers with a personalised cover. An outsert from HP greeted the subscriber by name and showed a scene specific to their home town.
Inside the issue was a 16-page advertising section, printed by O'Neil Data, which gave readers locations where they could buy HP products near their homes. The programme promoted HP's consumer printers, but it was also useful in showcasing the high-volume print capability.
Publisher Hearst noted that there had been a very good response rate to an associated competition to win an HP printer. The relevant webpage experienced 12,008 unique visitors in 28 days, some four times the industry average response rate of ~1%. Of these 10,334 entered the contest, there was an 86% visitor-to-entry rate. The print site generated 1,427 QR clicks from associated insert content links to web content.
Hearst is currently examining the potential of using the technology with other titles. One approach could be to vary the creative content by geographic region, providing location-specific messages to help a marketer connect with consumers like the HP ad did with city-specific photos.
New market study
With quantitative market sizes and forecasts based on in-depth primary research, The Future of Inkjet Printing to 2017 is a unique market study for business planning. The study is available now for £3,750. For more information, please contact Stephen Hill at +44 (0) 1372 802025, via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org or www.smitherspira.com