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MAY 2014

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Wide Format Market Moves . . .
It is dangerous to be stagnant

by Tim Greene, InfoTrends

One lesson that InfoTrends has learned in working with wide format printing businesses is that it is dangerous to be stagnant. The companies that we see growing in the wide format digital printing business are the ones that are constantly moving, constantly looking for new areas of growth, looking for new customers, looking for additional services they can offer, looking for new ways to prove the value of the services they do offer. Probably the biggest reason it is always necessary to be working not just IN your business but also ON your business is that the customer demands are always changing and the tools and technologies that help fulfill those demands are always changing as well.

Recently someone asked me "how can you forecast the wide format digital market? How do you know what people are going to want in the future?" to which I responded, "we all know what people are going to want. They are going to want something better, faster, something that adds higher profits to the job and probably all this at a lower cost." One of the biggest changes we've had to make in the wide format hardware forecast is the addition of a new category of wide format printers that are based on single-pass technology. InfoTrends is projecting rapid shipment growth now that some of these single-pass solutions are coming to market and proving their value proposition in real-world environments.

Unlike other types of wide format printers which have a print-head that travels across the printer, these single-pass devices have a series of print heads that are stitched together so that they are as wide as the media, which travels underneath. The media is printed as it travels under the heads, which means that print speeds are very high. "Production with these printers is typically 10-15 times higher than with traditional aqueous inkjet printers" says Reprographic Technology Inc.'s (RTI) Mike Midkiff. RTI's Vortex is one of these single-pass solutions." He continued with, "There are multiple advantages to this approach; speed is a big one of course, but for professional printers and in-plant operations that have multiple printers, this one unit can prove much higher productivity in a printer that will take up a lot less room. Also, this one unit can simplify workflow and is mostly user-serviceable."

The RTI Vortex
Vortex is one of those technologies that is just getting off the ground. There are less than three-dozen of these wide format single-pass printers installed worldwide at this point. For environments that have high-volume needs, Midkiff suggests looking as this new technology in a different way "a lot of people just think print speed. We believe they should think about the upside per hour, the revenue opportunity per hour." He concluded with, "With printers like this that are capable of thousands of sq. feet of production per hour, the whole business proposition changes."

Equipment and technology dealers would be wise to look for emerging technologies such as wide format single-pass inkjet, which clearly creates a new selling proposition based on its extreme productivity. DC

Author: Tim Greene, Director of Wide Format Printing Consulting Services, InfoTrends, will field your questions, comments or arguments by email: tim_greene@infotrends.com

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