Fespa, the international print association for wide format printers, has released its third global Print Census, which says increased capacity is now a key investment priority, with 54 per cent of printers citing volume growth as their main motivation to spend, up from 34 per cent three years ago.
About 83 per cent of printers say that they are optimistic for the future of their business, a slight rise from the last Census in 2015 when the figure was 80 per cent.
Fespa says business from digital wide format has continued to grow, with its respondents reporting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2 per cent since 2007. Digital output now represents 44 per cent of total revenue and is forecast to grow to 53 per cent of turnover within two years.
The data collected at different Fespa events in Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa last year included around 1400 participants from 102 countries, a 12 per cent increase in respondents and a geographical reach 59 per cent broader from the last Print Census published in 2015. New to the survey was an expansion into textile printing and environmentally sustainable production.
Fespa says print's ongoing redefinition as a customer-driven service industry is even more pronounced today than three years ago, as businesses meet the continued trend to mass customisation. Around 72 per cent of printers reported increasing demand for fast turnaround, 61 per cent see growing requirement for short runs and 59 per cent observe rising expectations of just-in-time (JIT) delivery.
Print businesses were said to respond to sustained customer demand for fast turnaround, short runs and JIT delivery with strategic digital technology investments.
In the face of volume growth, increased capacity is now a key investment priority. About 54 per cent of respondents cited it as their main motivation for capital spend, compared to three years ago when it was 34 per cent. Cost reduction is a factor for 53 per cent, while diversification into new markets and product offerings remains a focus of investment for 53 per cent of those surveyed.
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Productivity is the dominant buying criteria, with 63 per cent citing faster speed as the key attribute in a new printer. The mean investment level in sign and display is 43 per cent higher than in 2015, at Euros 144600.
The research also reveals increased investment focus in areas impacting customer satisfaction and consistency. About 34 per cent of printers plan to invest in quality control, 28 per cent in web to print, and 27 per cent each on cloud-based content management and colour management, supported by training spend.
Fespa says established patterns of technology evolution have continued this year, with revenue from UV, latex and direct and dye sublimation growing, in contrast to declining use of solvent, aqueous and analogue technologies. Around 27 per cent of 2018 respondents, in the sign and display segment, plan to buy a UV-cure inkjet printer (flatbed or hybrid), with a further 18 per cent planning UV roll-to-roll or latex investments.
This year’s Census also provided a more detailed picture of the growing textile segment with respondents including screen print businesses with a focus on textile applications, dedicated textile producers and direct-to-garment businesses. Screen and textile printers expect digital's contribution to textile printing revenues to grow by 12 per cent in the next two years.
Garment products were said to dominate across all textile businesses, with sports apparel, textiles for garments and fast fashion topping the growth applications leader board. Digital adoption for textile is slower than in other segments; across all textile-related segments, production is still dominated by analogue processes. However, among printers focused on textile, 56 per cent have made digital investments, and 19 per cent plan to do so in the next two years, aiming to reap the benefits of reduced time to market, customised creative collections, prototyping, and a positive impact on environmental footprint by reducing water and energy consumption.
Production speed is an investment priority for 69 per cent of textile respondents, and 55 per cent want the ability to print directly onto untreated materials. These investments are motivated by brand owner demand for time-sensitive production that delivers supply chain improvements such as waste reduction, optimises response to seasonal peaks and enables local delivery.
Wide format is evolving and growing according to the survey. The sign and display applications landscape is dominated by banners; with 68 per cent of printers regularly producing them and half of respondents seeing continued growth potential. Signs and billboards maintain their 2015 position among the top applications being produced by respondents.
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POS/POP displays are gaining traction, with 59 per cent of businesses experiencing growth in this area. More than half of businesses are also producing more self-adhesive applications, including wraps, vehicle graphics and decals, as they take advantage of continuous developments in digitally printable self-adhesive media.
The continued growth of printed décor applications is evident, with 74 per cent of respondents identifying wallpaper and interior décor as a growth area for their business.
The Census was expanded to include insights into environmentally sustainable production. Around 32 per cent of printers say they use energy-efficient or environmentally certified equipment to satisfy client demand, with other responses including training on sustainability, use of VOC-free inks and recyclable media, and end-of-life recycling programmes.
About 72 per cent of printers say they have been able to invest in sustainability without increasing prices, which is said to preserve sales and maintain price competitiveness.
The survey collected data from a range of print businesses defining their focus as: digital printing (17 per cent); screen (15 per cent); sign and display (10 per cent); textile fabric and direct-to-garment (10 per cent); commercial print and reprographics (13 per cent); graphic arts and creative (11 per cent) and packaging (4 per cent). Around 20 per cent of printers identified with Other.
The Census was conducted in partnership with InfoTrends, a division of Keypoint Intelligence.
Sean Holt, executive director of Fespa says, "Reviewing the 2018 Print Census findings, we are delighted to again see such a buoyant global community of print businesses enjoying sustained growth and responding by expanding capacity, as well as differentiating themselves with new products and services. The findings display continued commitment among PSPs to understanding and meeting the evolving expectations of customers. Businesses are pursuing customer-centric development strategies, underpinned with planned technology and training investments.
"The Fespa Print Census is particularly meaningful as a piece of market intelligence because it reflects the commercial reality for some 1400 print businesses. We believe that this grass roots insight, complemented by other Fespa research initiatives into key growth opportunities, can provide tangible benefit to our members by helping them make well-informed decisions to support their long-term growth.”
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