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New Cures for Uncommon Substrates

(April 2015) posted on Tue Apr 21, 2015

Why the demand for unusual substrates and the growth of LED curing are related trends.

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By Tim Greene

Today, I had the privilege of interviewing the VP of operations of a company active in the wide-format digital printing market. It’s always very interesting to hear what the people who own and run these businesses are thinking and what challenges they face. For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the interview was his opinions on the technology his company has invested in and why. He says, "We bought on technology; we really didn't care much about the other stuff." At the same time, he was able to confirm many of the other trends that we’re seeing in wide-format printing, two of which—the growing popularity of LED technology and the need to print a wider range of substrates—are more related than they may appear.

He recognizes that the market for conventional wide-format products has become highly price-competitive, so his investments have been directed at equipment that provides some differentiated capabilities, or at least the ability to produce these "everyday" prints as cost-effectively as possible. Selling wide-format graphics, such as banners and real estate signs, on price alone is a difficult strategy. Unlike a few short years ago, there are now several online providers who have done a nice job of "productizing" these signs and graphics.

This is why many wide-format print-service providers are looking more closely at UV technology. We saw very nice growth in the UV-curable segment of wide-format digital printing in 2014, a trend that has been going on for several years. Shipments of UV-curable inkjet printers were up 8 percent in 2014 versus 2013, and we at IDC project that LED curing will fuel even more growth of UV inkjet printers over the next few years as PSPs realize the advantages of this technology.


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