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Making a Big Impression - Trends in Large Format Printing Druck
By Cary Sherburne
drupa 2008 was heralded as ‘the Inkjet drupa’ and resulted in the bringing to market of four-color high-speed inkjet solutions. As digital offerings continue to mature, there will be a significant position for inkjet at drupa 2012 with a large presence in the production sector.
Digital large format printers are not new but the rate at which the technology has advanced in terms of quality, speed and the range of applications is. Innovation is matching this demand with developments such as “Cool Cure” curing and half-size sheet-fed inkjet presses designed for commercial print applications but suitable for smaller signs and display graphics.
According to June 2011 research from InfoTrends, banners, posters and signs remain the leading large format applications, with photography increasing its share. Also key are the three main drivers when selecting a print provider - quality, price and speed.
Speed is important with most suppliers increasing the equipment throughput with faster, wider print beds, while QR codes were used by 20 per cent of large format signage and graphics buyers responding to the InfoTrends survey. The study added the perceived threat to market from the emergence of digital (electronic) signage has not occurred.
Also digital technology is being added by many screen printers although traditional applications suitable for screen printing will remain for the foreseeable future and of the three major categories of inks used- Aqueous, Solvent/Eco-Solvent, and UV Curable, durable aqueous’ is the ‘ one to watch’ while finishing can also help add both margin and value.
It is clear the large format market is evolving and successful players are driving change on two planes, the ability to improve their operational effectiveness, or development of strategies that help create new services. The strategic decisions made will impact the types of equipment, customers and applications they choose to pursue. Large format inkjet printing is growing, it can offer higher margins than many other segments, and the technology continues to evolve to allow even more innovative customer solutions.