The look ahead

The new year is full of opportunities and will bring its own challenges as well. We asked leaders of the industry from different areas of the printing business about their predictions for 2015. This is the first article in a new series in which business leaders and experts will share their insights about the major trends that will shape the industry leading up to drupa 2016.

The new year is full of opportunities and will bring its own challenges as well. We asked leaders of the industry from different areas of the printing business about their predictions for 2015. This is the first article in a new series in which business leaders and experts will share their insights about the major trends that they think will shape the industry leading up to drupa 2016.

Harald Weimer, Member of the Management Board, responsible for Heidelberg Services:

Weimer

“In 2015, printing businesses will once again face the challenge of choosing the right measures to be well prepared for the future despite strong competition and intensive price pressure. Thus, having modern, fully integrated machinery for a continuous workflow to fulfill customers’ needs with an optimal degree of efficiency is one key element for success.

Even more important for an increase in productivity is the seamless and integrated performance of employees, processes, equipment, and materials within a company. This is where we will expand our service offerings in the coming year to continue to help ensure the success of our customers in the future.”

Duncan Ferguson, Director, Professional Graphics, Epson Europe:
Ferguson-EpsonEurope

“In 2015, it’s no surprise that inkjet increasingly has a major impact on every aspect of the print industry delivering ever greater quality, productivity and flexibility. Here at Epson we develop innovative professional print solutions that not only open up new markets, but also new business opportunities for our customers. Epson’s strategy is simple and ambitious. We want to provide the market with the best combination of printer and ink technology for the broadest range of professional print applications: commercial, signage, décor, label, textile, apparel and photo.

It’s important to us to ensure our products are affordable, easy-to-use, and reliable; and that the print quality is of the highest standard. That way we make it easy for anyone – from an individual business start-up to a multi-national organization – to develop profitable business models. Over the last few years digital print has had a major impact on the professional print industry and there’s no doubt that this will continue. But in 2015 I also expect to see more manufacturers, retailers and professionals deciding the time is right to invest in their own equipment for the first time, giving them the freedom to produce a variety of customized products – on-site and on-demand.”

Andy Middleton, Senior VP and General Manager, Stratasys, EMEA

Middleton-Stratasys

In terms of the ever-increasing growth of 3D printing and the direction it is heading, I believe that the development of materials and the continued increase in the level of printing accuracy will be major factors and each will remain key differentiators of Stratasys’ own offering next year.

As for the printing industry, although currently by no means the primary playing field for 3D printing technology, the commercial or industrial side of today’s printing industry does provide a degree of overlap as regards the application needs of users and the possibilities delivered by the technology. This is so in the packaging industry, were there is often some specialty printing required to produce decorative work for applications that, by their nature, are 3D in shape – such as perfume bottles and tops. Also, web-to-print capability for customers to order 2D –printed collateral is offered by a growing number of ‘traditional’ print businesses. Extending such a service to also offer on-demand, 3D-printed models or parts is another real business-enhancing opportunity that is already within easy reach of such companies.

As is always the case, critical to the continued uptake of 3D printing – in any application or sector – is the need to educate target audiences on the multitude of efficiency-enhancing, cost-reducing attributes offered by the technology. This includes printing companies, for whom 3D technology could potentially enhance existing processes, extend service offerings and generate new revenue streams.

Debbie Thorp, Business Development Director Global Inkjet Systems:

DebbieThorp

„What we are increasingly seeing is the steady march of inkjet into new markets and many diverse applications. Right now, people are looking at what will be the next major market for inkjet. It’s hard to pick just one key trend as many different opportunities are opening up.

Textiles, product decoration and different types of packaging (such as labels, direct to product printing and corrugated) are all expected to grow over the next few years; plus there’s a lot of interest in specialty applications where inkjet is used in manufacturing processes jetting functional fluids. Inkjet is now accepted as an established technology; proven in different production environments. Printhead technologies have become more reliable and more capable. Features like robust nozzle plates, improved jet straightness, higher resolution, higher speed, drop size and ink recirculation have all contributed to this.

In addition inkjet ink technology has advanced a great deal and will continue to be a critical market enabler. Developments in software and electronics have also been important as the data rates and number of printheads in systems increases. All these technology advancements are converging to deliver production capable inkjet systems.“

Jan Riecher, Vice President and General Manager for the Graphics Solutions Business in Europe, Middle East & Africa, HP:

Riecher-HP

In 2014, HP continued to experience strong hardware unit growth and double-digit page growth quarter-over-quarter. Page growth for the analog printing market is only projected to increase by a CAGR of 1.2 % through 2016, while HP digital presses grow at double-digit % CAGR. HP’s digital offerings deliver a path to growth, helping print service providers (PSPs) expand application offerings and provide faster turnaround times.

For example, we see general commercial printers expanding into large format and POS/POP, all powered by HP Digital solutions, and by doing so they will be able to produce a larger amount of applications and access new revenues and profit pools.

Digital printing technologies will continue to deliver benefits in the packaging, education and decoration industries. With HP’s digital solutions, companies within these industries can diversify their business models, transform their supply chains and reach new customers.

The packaging market is expected to accelerate as digital printing enables better optimization of floor space, especially when brand owners require shorter job lengths and more unique or customized POS/POP displays.

HP’s Large-format PageWide Technology, introduced in 2014 with shipments planned for 2015, is set to change the $1.3B Architecture, Engineering and Construction large-format printing market which is currently dominated by LED technology.

What do you think will be the biggest trend until drupa 2016? Send us a statement to drupablog@gmail.com.