Can you give us a snapshot of the key trends that are distinguishing the wide format space?
As technology improves inkjet print is taking a share from the analogue space, while interesting possibilities are being researched within the industrial landscape.
From an application point of view, users are exploring new business avenues across visual communication, interior decoration, textile, commercial printing, packaging and emerging industrial sectors.
The wide format market is also taking a critical approach towards its processes and their environmental impact. Sustainability is a key trend.
Ongoing discussions on advantages and disadvantages offered by different ink types, substrates, energy usage and recyclability demonstrate the environmental consciousness of the industry and enhances its image.
Textile print, interior decoration and industrial production have become recurrent words in the large format industry. What is your view on these sectors?
They are all important growing areas for wide-format and high-end inkjet as a whole. Inkjet technology can provide quality, productivity, economic short run printing capability and quick turnround; these benefits, together with versioning/personalisation and print on-demand, have been recognised and increasingly exploited across different sectors.
With regards to textile, there is a noticeable shift from low labour cost based supply to digital based premium applications developed in Europe to provide fast delivery in roll-to-roll and direct to garment printed items.
This trend, together with increasing emphasis on quality and creativity, is extremely positive as it acknowledges digital textile print as an added value to open up new business opportunities.
In terms of technology, what will be the product area that is going to see more significant developments over the next year or so?
Inkjet technology is the most rapidly changing area within the print industry. The ongoing developments of digital front ends, printheads, inks, substrates and transport systems are all important elements that contribute to push the technology forward.
Ink manufacturers are focused on broadening the range of formulations to extend applications that can be created with inkjet, while workflow is becoming increasingly important.
Workflow is getting the attention of the market for its end-to-end control across the production and ordering chain. This reach covers concept, artwork creation and approval, order placement, production and delivery. On-line workflow portals give individuals and micro-businesses the opportunity to order small quantities of bespoke items.
Wide format companies are keen to invest in workflow as it can improve their website, facilitate the promotion of their services and consequently the buying process.
As business-to-business models are extending their outreach to attract individual consumers, companies are paying more attention to all the relevant tools that can help them to build and reinforce their brand image.
Sean Smyth will be speaking at FESPA 2015 in the Sign Hub (Stand M115, Hall 7) on Wednesday 20 May at 2pm in the session titled ‘Future trends in signage – and beyond’. Sean will explore market trends in Europe and changes to production methods.
For more information on FESPA 2015, the full conference programme and to pre-register to attend, visit: www.fespa2015.com