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Top 10 Printing Industry Trends For 2015

The year 2015 is full of promise and opportunities for graphic arts industry, so let’s join the party

3D printing, printed electronics, functional and industrial printing will gain more market share during 2015
3D printing, printed electronics, functional and industrial printing will gain more market share during 2015
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Predicting the future is dangerous and often embarrassing. We live in an unpredictable world and unfortunately we have to get used to it. Now in the midst of all these uncertainties the year 2015 has arrived. To figure out what are the printing industry trends during next 12 months first of all we have to grasp the general technological trends during 2015.

According to Gartner the top 10 technology trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2015 includes Computing Everywhere,  The Internet of Things, 3D Printing, Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics,  Context-Rich Systems, Smart Machines, Cloud/Client Computing, Web-Scale IT and Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection. Some of these trends have a profound impact on printing industry as well.

There are also other factors that will offer new opportunities and challenges for printing industry during 2015. Here are 10 strategic printing industry trends that will shape the world of graphic arts during 2015 and beyond. The information presented here is based on the new drupa report on the impact of Internet on print as well as other resources.

1 - Computing everywhere

It’s all about mobile devices. According to eMarketer, a major research and consulting company over 4.55 billion people worldwide used a mobile phone in 2014.

Mobile adoption is slowing, but new users in the developing regions of Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and Africa will drive further increases. Between 2013 and 2017, mobile phone penetration will rise from 61.1% to 69.4% of the global population, according to a new eMarketer report. That means people now perform a myriad of computing and other activities on the go.

Print shop owners also have the ability and tools to manage they day to day operation using a mobile phone. Print buyers also can order print via a mobile phone and log on to an app created by a print shop or a print supplier. In 2015 we will witness more people using mobile to order print or follow up with their orders.

2 - 3D Printing, printed electronics and functional printing

3D printing will continue with their rapid expansion during 2015 and some say it might be a crucial year for this technology to take off and go mainstream. Other than 3D printing, printed electronics, functional and industrial printing will gain more market share during 2015. The staggering growth of these technology has been a key driver for drupa 2016 to focus more heavily on future-oriented technologies.

According to drupa these innovative technologies are driving the market forward and are opening up significant opportunities and growth potential worldwide, primarily in the field of packaging, functional and industrial printing. On the other hand according to Smithers Pira (UK), sales in the packaging print sector will rise annually by four percentage points to US$ 970 billion by 2018. There are also indications of growth in the industrial and functional printing sector.

Since 2008 this market, that includes printing processes for the production of decorative and laminated surfaces, ceramics, vehicle parts, promotional items or electronic products, has risen annually by 13.4 percent and in 2013 achieved a volume of US$ 43.7 billion. Experts from InfoTrends (USA/UK) currently value the market at US$ 100 billion.  The market for 3D printing is developing even more dynamically. The global market volume is currently estimated at around US$ 2.2 billion. The Association of German Machine and System Engineers (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau) that recently founded the company Additive Manufacturing, is anticipating an annual growth rates of 25 percent.

3 - Crossmedia and multichannel

The internet and digital communication overall has changed print in a fundamental way. This is emphasized by the current “drupa Global Insights” report entitled, “The effects of the internet on printing – the digital flood”. Interaction is the name of the game. Big data, web-to-print, variable data printing and internet-supported tools such as augmented reality and QR codes characterise and impact the entire cosmos of printed products and the complete workflow. Hewlett-Packard, an active member of the drupa committee since 2013 and a top ten exhibitor at drupa, confirms the new direction: “Communication between people is evolving just as quickly as technology,” reflects Francois Martin, Worldwide Marketing Director at HP Graphics Solutions Business.

Marketers will therefore consider all the channels available and choose those that fit within budget and prompt the best (ideally recordable) response. Regrettably, younger marketers may only consider digital channels. Yet print can add huge value to multichannel campaigns. The average response rate for standard direct mail is reported at 3.4%, compared with 0.12% for email. So direct mail that drives consumers to a digital channel, ideally via an interactive element, is an attractive way forward.

4 - The Internet of Things

Based on a report titled the Impact of the Internet on Print– The Digital Flood published by drupa by 2012 it was calculated that 35% of the world’s population was connected via the Internet, although distribution is very patchy. As for mobile phones, by 2013 there were 3.4 billion subscribers, equivalent to just under half the world’s population.

So print is now part of the broader communications industry, and printing companies need to be increasingly IT-led. On the other hand with the advent of Internet a new concept dubbed as The Internet of Things is emerging which promises that every object will eventually be hooked up to a network. In 2015 this trend will continue as more people go online to do everything from shopping to downloading music and video.

5 - The explosion of ecommerce

During past two decades the volume of ecommerce in many countries has grown from negligible to huge volumes that include virtually all companies and most consumers. The growth figures are just astonishing; with even the most mature market, the US, still growing at 8% per annum, with China due to overtake it in volume terms in 2015 and to triple its volume of online trading by 2020. There are many advantages to ecommerce that explain this explosion in participation, and the pace will accelerate further with increasing numbers of consumers using their Internet enabled mobile phones to participate in ‘m-commerce’.

6 - The shift to mass customization

The industry has seen a dramatic shift from mass production of static print to an ever increasing proportion of small runs of digital print and down further to individual runs of one. Digital communications has driven this shift, supported by sophisticated data management and workflows. Variable data print (VDP) is the essential prerequisite for customisation and the net effect is forecasts of a slow decline in static print (0.5% per annum to 2017) contrasted with rapid growth of digital (electrophotographic at 1.5% pa – building on a large installed base and inkjet at 14% pa – reflecting the small installed base) to double digital print’s share of total print volume to 14% by 2017.

One key driver of mass customisation is the ever-increasing volume of digital data that is being held – so-called ‘big data,’ where the volumes are so large that conventional analyses would struggle to cope. For example, online business data is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 40%. However with the right software and skills to drive it, very exact segmented marketing, down to the level of individuals, can occur – either digitally or by printing. Here is a great opportunity for printers (who are used to handling high volumes of digital data) to manage and analyse customers’ data for them.

7 - Packaging on the rise

Packaging will continue to attract investment from printers during 2015. With dwindling commercial printing jobs printers are increasingly look into packaging as a way of making money. Packaging are becoming smarter and this trend will continue throughout 2015. Packaging is a recession proof industry and a relatively comfortable way for printers to get more revenue. In the Middle East more printers will rush to get a piece of action during 2015. According to Smithers Pira report rising real incomes, continued urbanisation and a relatively young and growing population make the Middle East and North Africa a target market for the packaging industry. Commercial printers will invest more and more in package printing and label printing equipment. 

8 - Cloud printing

The many advantages of cloud printing will make this technology one of the hottest trends during 2015.

The advantages are many but the most important one is perhaps the ability of cloud printing solution to be used on a cross-platform basis with iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry and Android. Many companies including Google are now offering cloud printing services which enables printers to connect to cloud servers. Many printers normally use and handle huge amount of data during prepress stage. Cloud technology enables them to use cloud solutions instead of investing huge amount of money and resources for buying and installing expensive servers. 

9 - Environmentally friendly practices

Printing industry has a bad rep. Many falsely believe this industry is a major polluter. Nothing far from the truth. Printers have always recycled their used plates and waste papers. Now with the introduction of processless plates printing industry is even more environmentally friendly. Major plate manufacturers are improving and enhancing the processless and chemical free plates. Printer are also embracing these plates. On the other hand major press manufacturers such as Heidelberg, manroland and KBA are using ecofriendly practices and encouraging printers to adopt them as well. For example Heidelberg CO2 Calculator is a comprehensive online platform for precisely determining the actual CO2 emissions of a print job, taking into account all relevant factors. Within the platform it is possible to directly compensate the calculated CO2 emissions with high standard carbon offset certificates. In a collaboration project with ClimatePartner, KBA is also offering to environmentally minded customers an individualized solution for calculating the greenhouse gas emissions generated by printing production runs.

With the new online platform Footprint Manager, interested print companies can now themselves calculate the emissions attributable to their production, can offer customers the increasingly requested option of climate-neutral print at fair and manageable extra cost, and acting hand in hand with the print buyer can compensate the unavoidable CO2 emissions by supporting climate protection projects. During 2015 the eco- friendly practices will be a major buzzword within world of printing.

10 - Production Inkjet printers

Many industry experts believe 2015 is the year that Production Inkjet printers will take off. The reason is that B2 format presses are becoming more attractive for printers because of the advances in sheet transport and Digital front ends.

According to digital printing guru David Zwang, each of the manufacturers of production inkjet printers has created messaging around imaging. Some focus on resolution, some on halftone screening equivalents, some on raw jetting speed, etc. So now printers have a variety of choices. Top manufacturers including, HP, Kodak, Canon, Screen and others are offering state-of-the- art production inkjet printers and printers are also finding them interesting.

In our region these machines are also becoming popular. Recently Kodak has reached an agreement in to deliver the first KODAK PROSPER 6000C Press in the Europe, Africa and Middle East Region (EAMER) to Dubai Media Inc. (DMI). DMI, the largest media group in the Middle East, plans to use the PROSPER 6000C Press at the heart of its Smart Printing Services initiative in the UAE, which will see the introduction of reader-customised newspapers and other advanced printing services. The machine will be installed during 2015.

Drupa 2016 on the horizon

The year 2015 is also a prelude to drupa 2016 where companies intensify their marketing activities. There will be countless events and road shows during 2015 on the subject of drupa 2016.  Exciting times are ahead and 2015 seems to be a party for printing industry.

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