While we don’t actually own a crystal ball, we did take a peek into the future to see what’s in store for wide-format printing in 2019. The segment will definitely continue to see growth, with banners, vehicle wraps, signage, wallcovering and window graphics rounding out the top five most profitable wide-format applications, according to a recent WhatTheyThink report.
The report outlined some key stats, including the fact that wide-format print is growing at a healthy 6.7% CAGR, jumping from $16.1 billion in 2012 to $22.3 billion in 2017. Nearly 3/4 of print providers say their wide-format print volumes have increased, while over 90% of print buyers say their volumes will hold steady or increase in the coming year.
So with all that potential, we took a look at some key activity that will help drive production and sales. Here are the top five trends every print service provider should keep an eye on as the new year kicks off:
Soft Signage Made Easier. Digital textile printing has been a hot topic for the past few years, but it’s far more than garment and apparel applications, especially for wide-format printers. Soft signage will continue to dominate, taking the place of rigid and heavy substrates for trade shows, high-end retail and backlit applications. Currently, only about 6% of textile products are produced digitally, according to an article in December 2018 edition of Printing News, but experts expect that number to get into double digits within a few years. Fabric manufacturers have been hard at work to develop textiles that run smoothly on wide-format options, such as latex and even aqueous printers. Also, SEG frames are essential for attractive soft signage displays, but have often required a lot of installation set-up, especially sewing the silicone edging onto the finished print. Now, with SignComp’s Front Load Soft Signage Frame, there’s no sewing necessary, especially when using a thick textile that works well with SignComp’s patented grip strips. It’s so easy to use that an employee in a retail shop can easily switch out seasonal messaging whenever needed. Check out this how-to video to learn more.
Sustainability Goes Mainstream. Get ready for a wave of printable media that offers sustainability characteristics that are either recyclable or made from recycled materials, such as the award-winning HP Recycled Satin Canvas, which uses 22 recycled water bottles for every square meter of canvas. These types of products will become increasingly important to your customer base, as many of them will demand more Earth-friendly options. Plus, you’re going to see more major corporate brands, like Kellogg and Kraft-Heinz vowing to use sustainable packaging that will be fully recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Our S-OneLP team is on the case to provide more sustainable packaging films to those printers, as well. In the textile arena, expect to see more natural fiber fabrics and improved pigment inks to accompany them.
Digital Décor Market Expands. As the typical “sign guy” has tip-toed into becoming an all-around décor expert with everything from photo reproductions to canvas wraps to wallcoverings, you can expect to see digitally printed décor options branch beyond retail and hospitality settings and expand into residential offerings. As print providers become more adept at printing décor materials and the materials themselves become easier to handle (think: LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric for wall murals), the opportunities are going to explode, while consumers catch wind of all the possibilities to customize their homes. And not just on the walls — windows become prime real estate for digital décor displays, as do the floors … and let’s not forget the ceilings.
Ecommerce Gains (Even More) Traction. If you’ve been ecommerce shy with your business so far, 2019 may be the year you finally embrace its possibilities. Offering customers the ability to upload their artwork that you fulfill in a variety of print products gives you a huge advantage over your competition. But if you’re wary of starting ecommerce options on your own, consider the possibility of offering fulfillment services to a number of up-and-coming art houses that are partnering with artists to use their original art to create everything from wall tapestries to canvas wraps to notebooks to t-shirts. A few big online names you may have heard of — Ikonick, Society6, Art.com … yeah, they’re all using digital wide-format services. Go grab those opportunities!
Digital Print for All Surfaces. A few years ago while at SGIA Expo, it became apparent that the new directive seemed to be: Print Everything! And while that was supported by a wide variety of print technologies, today, we’d edit it to say: Print Everything with Digital! We’re seeing every surface covered with printed media, and more and more of those materials are digital wide-format compatible, such as LexJet Sunset Textured Fine Art Paper 310g used to create lamp shades. The key to printing to more surfaces is a wide variety of versatile, all-in-one substrates, such as LexJet Flex Tek, available for aqueous or solvent print technology, and can be used for hanging banners, roll-up banners or even canvas wraps.
Stay tuned throughout the year to discover even more new and innovative products and exciting application opportunities to help you grow your business well into 2020 and beyond!