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Just What's Happening to the US Wide-Format-Graphics Market?

(July 2005) posted on Fri Jul 29, 2005

Find out what market changes have led the decline of wide-format inkjet printing equipment purchases and what graphics producers can do to remain competitive.

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By Michael Flippin

From our recent research study, our snapshot of the current US printer installed base reflects a declining market share for aqueous inkjet printers (Table 1). There is no question that aqueous inkjet technology is losing share to the solvent and eco-solvent inkjet printers in an already shrinking market. In 2003, aqueous inkjet printers represented 89% of the overall US installed base of wide-format inkjet printers, while the solvent and eco-solvent segment captured 7% and UV inkjets got 4%. In 2005, however, the share of solvent/eco-solvent category of wide-format inkjets has nearly tripled to 19% of the total installed base, UV inkjets have grown to 6%, and aqueous has dropped to 75%.

Table 1 Share of US installed base by wide-format inkjet technology
Inkjet Technology Market Share
2003 2004 2005
Aqueous 89% 81% 75%
Oil-based NA 2% 0%
Solvent/eco-solvent 7% 12% 19%
UV (roll fed or flatbed) 4% 5% 6%

This trend is expected to continue. Fewer and fewer shops plan to purchase an aqueous inkjet printer, while more and more plan to purchase eco-solvent or solvent printers. That said, I do believe that both technologies will continue to satisfy the needs of various segments of the market. But those traditionally big chunks of the market will be much smaller pieces in the future.

How much change can we handle?

Another quote that has a lot of bearing on the current state of the wide-format digital graphics market comes from Charles Darwin: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." So it appears that not only must we run for our business survival, but we also must maintain the flexibility to change in order to remain competitive.


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