How Print Providers Can Go Wide For New Business Opportunities

July 1, 2020

Wide-format digital printers have been around for some time now. Capabilities range from printing sign and display applications like banners, posters and point of purchase materials to technical applications such as charts, maps and engineering drawings. Over the years, manufacturers have continued to engineer advances in these digital printers to provide a greater assortment of widths, higher output quality, different ink technology and wider substrate capability such as printing to acrylic, metal, glass and textiles.

Large format digital printers are more than just wide. These digital printers are engineered to print on a variety of media including flexible media on rolls or in sheets, and rigid media such as foam board. They have the capability to produce large-scale prints that can be used for indoor signage, large posters and banners. Advances in ink technology enable applications such as outdoor signs, textiles, and wall and floor coverings to be printed on these digital printers. Applications are expanded with large scale flatbed and roll cutters for standup signs or die-cut items.

Prior to COVID-19, the large-format market was growing, both with print volumes and healthy profit margins. The virus has had a major impact on large format printing, with printers affected due to the cancellation of live events, declining foot traffic and furloughed employees. Many print shops are hurting, but there have been some heartwarming stories about fighting back using manufacturing capacity and printing capabilities to make face masks, sneeze shields and social distancing signage.

As the pandemic continues, the ability of wide-format printers to produce more valuable graphics, cost effectively, with high volume, is foreseeably a huge opportunity to meet the immediate and emerging needs for large printing, such as:

  • Advisory billboards (PSAs)
  • Social distancing markers
  • Drive through and curbside pick-up banners
  • Pop-up shelters
  • Signage for special operating hours

Looking ahead, as we experience major shifts in how we work, how we do business and even how we shop, we uncover more requirements for large format capability. This creates tons of need within retail, from customized signage to products and services reconfigured for the new needs of brick and mortar stores (shields, instructions, and sneeze guards) to graphics for new delivery vehicles. In fact, at Konica Minolta we are currently looking to produce floor graphics and signage for our corporate offices for when we get employees back into the office.

According to the latest market research report “North America Large Format Printer Forecast, 2020–2024” from IDC, total large format digital print volume in North America for all large format application types is expected to decline at a modest 1.5% rate over the next five years. The COVID-19 crisis and the move to digital communications are negative forces, but as the market recovers, IDC expects wide format graphics applications to expand and drive print volume growth at a CAGR of 5.6% for that category over the forecast period.

For printers finding themselves with downtime, now is the perfect time to address some activities that seem to fall by the wayside during busier times, including:

  • Advancing relationships with key customers
  • Experimenting with new products and substrate materials
  • Learning about new equipment and applications
  • Making a plan to target customers and markets
  • Getting creative – working up some renderings and examples for target customers

When it comes to adding new equipment in the future, consider Konica Minolta’s AccurioWide 160 and AccurioWide 200 UV LED hybrid wide format printers, which joined the wide-format market at the end of 2018. These printers offer the ability to print a wide range of applications on flexible and rigid materials featuring Konica Minolta print head technology. These products have already helped commercial printers expand their businesses with new wide format applications and productivity.

One of the important features I wanted to point out with the AccurioWide printers is the thin ink layer chemistry used in the printing process, which allows for great color density with very low ink usage to reduce running costs.

AccurioWide UV inks provide:

  • More pigments (color particles) per droplet, thanks to unique formulation and dispersion technology
  • Solid color reproduction
  • Large color gamut – vivid / vibrant
  • Great ink adhesion on most surfaces

In addition, the AccurioPro WideDirector sign and display workflow software will help speed operations in your large format printing with:

  • High productivity with reliable output
  • Consistent color with ease
  • Workflow automation
  • Pre-flighting, color management, file processing, printing and finishing

The combination of the AccurioWide printers and the AccurioPro WideDirector workflow software provide a great wide format solution to allow any printer looking to expand print applications with solid printer performance, outstanding prints and an ease of use that your operators will love.

Visit our website for more information on Konica Minolta’s wide format printers and workflow software.

Todd Smith
Manager, Product Marketing, Specialty and Wide Format Products

Todd Smith is responsible for product planning and marketing for wide format and inkjet product initiatives for Konica Minolta. He has managed many successful products and programs in the office, production print and wide format markets. His goals include offering the best products for our customers with the right fit of solutions and services to accompany them. In his free time, you can find him in the studio working on music or snowboarding down very large mountains.