Based on our extensive experience in printing, we identify various developments in the market. On this basis, we can make a number of predictions about how the printing market will develop in the future.
This article is intended as a starter, we invite other professionals to share their insights!
We can probably agree quickly on one thing: despite the digitization of our society, there is still a great need for printed materials. Due to new techniques, the number of applications is increasing.
Innovation > disappearance of traditional print
Due to the ever-increasing digitization of society, the needs of customers are changing. This brings with it a lot of opportunities, through new applications, more about that at point 2.
On the other hand, this development also ensures that certain traditional printed products will gradually disappear. Think for example of a printed newspaper, or forms and stationery. These will increasingly be replaced by digital applications. Printing professionals will have to respond to this development.
Technical > transition to digital printing
The digital printers, printing presses and configurations are getting better: faster, larger formats, more colors, more different substrates and more digital (in terms of finish and control.) Ultimately, production will increasingly shift to digital.
Some advantages at a glance:
- On demand, so short delivery times.
- End to end digital production: digital ordering via a portal (see point 3), digital printing, cutting and finishing, and also the logistics can be followed digitally up to and including the delivery address.
- Economical for small runs.
- More variable productions possible, allowing complete personalization and diversification.
- Tests and samples can be made easily and cheaply.
- Test and product are identical.
- Digital systems can sometimes make stand-alone, without operator, productions. A very interesting development.
We identify a number of developments in the market, which are a direct result of the extensive possibilities of digital printing:
- Increase in the number of personalized print products in small quantities, for example in the field of signing (flags, banners, big prints, give aways, etc.).
- Continuous segmentation of packaging printing. The trend in product offerings (especially for products such as food, cosmetics and household products) is more choice. The consequence of this for the printing is that the runs become smaller, but the total volume is larger.
- Another trend in the area of packaging printing is the movement towards environmentally friendly packaging. In this area, digital printing also offers many more possibilities.
Furthermore, you see completely new markets in digital printing techniques, such as 3D printing.
Automation > development of order portals
Due to the automation of the ordering process, printed matter is now increasingly being offered via order portals. This offers great benefits for both customer and producer.
This development was once used for the online ordering of flyers, but now more and more printed matter can be ordered in this way. Well-known web portals include Probo, Simian, Vistaprint, Drukzo and Drukwerkmax. These providers are growing phenomenally because they make clever use of available digital opportunities in the areas of marketing, production, payment traffic and logistics.
As a printer you can operate other web portals with your printing capacity. Of course you can also choose to set up a web portal yourself.
In addition to the large providers of many types of printing, there are also customized portals for specific products. Think of photo books, dissertations, flags and banners. These online applications create PDF files that end up in the print process via direct links. Due to the efficiency of this system, on demand printing has also become feasible for small businesses and retailers.
Equipment > emergence of inkjet
The printing technique is shifting more and more towards inkjet printing. Inkjet is fast, contactless printing is possible and multiple substrates and formats are possible, both on a roll and as a blank. Inkjet can be implemented as a multi-pass and single-pass. In the case of multi-pass, the print head moves from left to right. With single-pass, the print head is stationary and the substrate moves at high speed. This allows you to print super fast.
The quality of inkjet printing is still increasing. For example, you can print with white on certain substrates with great results. Printing with multiple colors than the standard CMYK gives more color range. An extra varnish with a special printhead distinguishes printed matter.
There are roughly 2 inkjet techniques. UV inkjet for all substrates and outdoor applications, and waterbased inkjet, which you will find in the more traditional paper applications. Certain parts of the printing market are shifting to this production method because the quality is good and the production method is efficient through the bundling of orders. It is especially interesting for a printer to invest in such a printer if you have a lot of smaller print jobs. And as we mentioned at point 2: the market is moving more and more in the direction of small runs.
Organization > increase in the number of intermediaries, scaling up and collaborations
Due to all technical developments, the way in which printed matter is organized is also changing. We see three shifts in this: the increase in the number of intermediaries, the increase in scale and the expansion of the partnerships.
Increase in the number of intermediaries
The printing market is characterized by the relatively high number of intermediaries. There are at least 100 major players, such as Arvato, Summits and Charterhouse, and at least 2,000 smaller entrepreneurs. Advertising agencies, designers, graphic specialists and buyers are represented here. An interesting development is the increase in the number of intermediaries who are themselves printing companies.
More and more customers want one point of contact to do business with. You can respond to this as a total supplier by using fellow producers.
Another special group of intermediaries are suppliers of printers, such as Xerox, Canon and Minolta.
Increase in scale
Economies of scale in the printing process can be achieved, for example, as a single production tool (printer or press), operated by one operator generating more output. This means investing in machines that can print larger, wider or faster, but can still be operated by one person.
Expansion of the collaborations
The current printing companies are, of course, all cooperating companies. Certain parts of printing or finishing are placed with suppliers. Especially for smaller printing companies, it is important to gather good cooperation partners around them.
The large investments in, for example, an 8-color printing press or a high-quality digital printing press are still feasible for medium-sized companies. Investing in both is only an option for a few companies. If you want to make use of the quality and the possibilities that such machines offer, cooperation is the best choice, so that you can always help your customer with the best print productions. The more you work together, the more knowledge you share, creating new opportunities. Everything is possible in printing.
This article is intended as a first step, and it will be completed in the coming months. Would you like to add something about developments in the printing world? We look forward to your response to: firstname.lastname@example.org .