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Digital print to continue to grow: Smithers
Publish date: 2022-07-21


According to Smithers in 2017 the analogue print industry was worth $734.5bn; by 2027 this market is expected to be worth $721.4bn. Digital print in 2017 was worth $122.9bn, and is expected to reach $189.8bn by 2027.

Between 2022 and 2027 the global analogue printing industry is expected to achieve growth globally, albeit by just of 0.8 per cent. The digital printing industry by contrast is expected to witness an annual growth rate of 5.7 per cent.

The Smithers report says inkjet and electrophotography (toner) print continue to threaten to displace offset litho in multiple applications, as the market space adjusts to an increasingly digital future. The Future of Digital versus Offset Printing to 2027 tracks the dynamics of this competition across the next five years, profiling how the latest technology developments will redefine the sector.

Offset litho (sheetfed, heatset web, coldset web) remains central to global print technology. In 2022, a total of 27.69 trillion A4 prints will be produced on offset litho presses – almost exactly two thirds of total print output – worth US$326.8bn. In contrast, digital printers will output 1.67 trillion A4 print equivalents this year, however the total value of this work will be $144.1bn, highlighting the value-adding potential of switching work to digital print.

Heatset and coldset litho represent the majority of output. These processes are used mainly for magazines and catalogues, and newspaper print, respectively, all of which have suffered major losses over the past two years, as Covid-19 has helped accelerate many readers towards electronic media.


Demand for sheetfed litho has been more robust, but is increasingly reacting to the challenge of inkjet in several core segments. Other analogue process, led by flexo, will be more resilient to this trend, mostly due to expanding demand for labels and packaging print.

Advertising and commercial print are the major applications for sheetfed litho, both of which suffered severely during the pandemic. The primary advantages digital offers in these applications are faster turnaround, low cost customisation, and better cost profiles on shorter print runs. As higher productivity machines are introduced the cost of printing on inkjet continues downwards.

The report says print buying is moving towards shorter commissions as well, and budgets have been revised to target higher returns. In response press sheetfed OEMs are working to develop more efficient presses, minimising downtime and other operating efficiencies. Push-to-stop technology will continue to develop, and be enhanced with machine learning and AI software to maximise uptime and make intelligent smarter maintenance cycles. This trend is already evolving into a greater emphasis on post-sales services from litho OEMs, helping to maximise returns for their customers.

Smithers says that simultaneously the installation of more very-large format (VLF) offset presses offer economies of scale, which will further pressurise smaller litho press operators.


Source: Print 21

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