By Andy Gordon, Inkjet Insight
Production inkjet has been successful with applications that have light ink coverage printed on uncoated stocks … namely, transactional, direct mail, and some book applications. Many of these applications were converted from high-speed roll-fed toner devices and inkjet provided economic and process benefits and by adding color. Inkjet also provided the ability to add value to printed pages. It’s useful to look at the entire market to help put this area of success in perspective and to think about the requirements for expanding adoption.
Below is a map of the top digital print market segments in North America based on market penetration. This page volume data was shared by our friends at I.T. Strategies. The unit of measurement is an equivalent letter sized impression (8.5” x 11”) and shows the relative size of each segment and subsegment. With the exception of Direct Mail and Transaction applications, digital print (inkjet and toner) has impacted only a small percent of the total page volume. For example, digital printing has penetrated about one tenth of the Marketing Collateral space. Suffice it to say, these are usually short-run and high-value pages, but it’s still a small part of the overall market from a volume perspective. Inkjet printing has the potential to accelerate the transition to digital as print quality and substrate flexibility increase and total production costs go down.
Below is a map of the broader North American market which puts into context the digital print developments we see coming from most of the major equipment manufacturers as they seek new opportunities. Most of the packaging market remains untapped with the exception of Labels and some Folding Carton. However, there is considerable development occurring to establish offerings for all major segments within packaging. The same can be said for the Publishing market and subsegments with the exception of Books which has been an adopter of both toner and inkjet solutions. While there are definitely applications being printed digitally in all of the Publishing segments, it’s still a very small percentage of the total market. We should expect a lot more activity in the publishing as the technology fit improves, particularly with respect to recent advances in printing on offset stocks, higher pigment load inks and efficient drying.
The data shows that market penetration is still relatively limited and that there is significant opportunity to disrupt many of the core print segments. Print these two charts out, hang them on your wall, think about your next investment, and consider how you can help change the industry. From our perspective, it’s not a matter of “if” it will happen, it’s really a question of “when”. It is going to be fascinating to see how digital print, and inkjet technologies specifically, evolve over the next few years as we lead up to the next drupa in 2020.