Page 13 - Print21 Magazine Jan-Feb 21
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                Wide Format
   promoting brands throughout global markets.
Fourth is the technological advances that also play a part, in reducing production costs through faster press set-up, and increased use of computer-controlled automation at all stages of the process, from taking the initial order to dispatch to the customer when completed.
Fifth is W2P. The process is ideally aligned with digital print processes that print from a computer- generated image, saving time and costs for the customer and the printer over initial briefings, artwork modification, and final approval.
That optimism is reflected by local vendors. Craig Nethercott, CEO at Canon Production Printing says, “There are always opportunities for new businesses to enter the market. The print industry is dynamic with new markets evolving where business can specialise and service these new offerings or applications that today’s technology can offer. I believe the more successful printers will be the ones who embrace innovation and continue to transform their businesses adapting their business models to meet the ever- changing market demands.”
Matt Ashman, CEO at Durst, which manufactures high-end, high- volume printers says, “Even during Covid we have seen opportunities. And when the virus recedes, there will be a continuing need for high- quality wide format print that can be produced efficiently.”
Gordon Kerr, business marketing manager – Professional Print Solutions at Epson says, “The opportunities in the short term
are back to basic – the provision of timely and cost-effective quality signage and packaging. The opportunities in the mid-term
are expansion in cross product provision: integrated offerings in traditional stocks, fabric stocks, merchandise, and clothing.”
Rodd Harrison, vice president Asia Pacific Sales at EFI says, “Despite the pandemic, we have seen a big uptick in sales in ANZ. EFI recorded nearly 20 new printer installations over
the course of 2020, largely but not entirely due to customer diversifying into new applications. We have placed multiple units into truck curtain production, for example, while others are printing labels for plant tags, while others have been placed into traditional billboard production, retail display graphics of course.”
Wide format printing once meant posters and banners, but these days
the applications are growing almost every day it seems, from Harrison’s aforementioned truck curtains, to interior décor, and even short-run packaging. Wide format growth
will also come from the trend to onshore manufacturing, which is a philosophical choice as relations with China deteriorate, and one based
on quality assurance demanded by clients. No-one knows exactly how much wide format print goes to China to be air-freighted back here, but local printers are in the box seat with both the turnaround times, the quality, the carbon footprint, and the local manufacturing.
Gordon Kerr at Epson says, “The keys are to have an accessible market and valuable product. Modern businesses (particularly post-Covid)
“Printers who understand their customer’s business, their challenges, and provide solutions to those challenges will continue to succeed.”
– Henryk Kraszewski, Ricoh
are cash and time poor. The ability
to contain costs is valuable. The ability to turn around a job rapidly will often outweigh any savings that might be associated with tendering
or outsourcing. People have learned that there are dangers associated with sending jobs interstate or overseas.
The emerging opportunities
are already being seen. At Canon,
for instance, which manufactures the world’s biggest selling flatbed printer, the Arizona, Craig Nethercott says, “Canon Production Printing’s customers have seen a large increase in demand for social distancing graphics, warning and advice signage for flooring and
walls as you would expect due to
the current pandemic. This was the one area which kept print volumes positive during Covid, particularly with the events market coming to
a grinding halt. We have also seen
a significant upturn in the interior décor applications space. This is across both rigid media, like concrete
wall panels, as well as flexible wall coverings.”
Wide format covers a multitude of sectors and applications, from the $20,000 system for the high street franchise to the system costing
25 times that for high-volume production. It is a case of horses for courses, with a system to suit whatever type of printer you are.
Major developers are creating systems for all types of printers. Fujifilm, for instance, which operates at the high end of the scale, has launched Vybrant UF10, its entry level flatbed printer offering high- quality printing on a range of rigid and flexible media, supported by its four dedicated vacuum zones.
With speed performance that is suitable for print volumes typically up to 7500sqm per year, Fujifilm says this printer is ideal for businesses looking to enter the market or grow their flatbed capability at a cost- effective price point.
Fujifilm is well known for its high-end wide format print systems and is one of the dominant players in the market through its Acuity range. However, at the lower price point,
a raft of new entrants are in the market, and it does want to ensure that it has a product that meets the needs of the entry-level market, hence the development of the new entry level Vybrant UF10.
New flatbeds are available from the likes of Epson, Ricoh and Roland DG, none of which have been in flatbed before, and all of which are supplying entry-level systems.
For any commercial printer, under margin pressure as they all are,
wide format printing remains an area that has to be worth looking
at. The market will, according to
the analysts, continue to grow for compelling reasons. The technology gets ever more efficient, and the total cost of ownership keeps coming down. The applications will only grow. Wide format printing will continue to offer opportunity for printers of all types, and it seems, those opportunities will be limited only by the imagination of the print business owner. 21
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