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Wide-format: A Pivotal Investment for In-plants

Nearly 77 percent of in-plants now offer wide-format printing, with two-thirds reporting an increase in wide-format print volume over the last 12 months. Is your in-plant taking advantage of this golden opportunity?

October 2013 By Tim Greene
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Wide-format digital printing is a growth market within the in-plant printing segment of the printing industry. Recently, InfoTrends and North American Publishing Co. (IPG’s parent) surveyed 167 print service providers—95 of which were in-plants—on their expectations of growth for the wide-format printing market. 

Of those surveyed, two-thirds of in-plants reported that their wide-format digital graphics print volume grew over the last 12 months, with an average increase of 11 percent. These same in-plants also expect their business to expand over the next 12 months by an average of 9 percent. To prepare, 23.3 percent of in-plants plan to purchase or lease a new wide-format printer in the next 12 months. 

The majority of today’s in-plants have multiple wide-format printers: 28 percent have two of them; 13 percent have three; 9 percent have four; and 15 percent of in-plants utilize five or more printers, according to the new Info-Trends/NAPCO survey. (See chart.)

Aqueous inkjet is the top choice, with 59 percent of in-plants utilizing this technology. Solvent-based inkjet is next, with 16 percent using it; 13 percent of in-plants use dye-sublimation technology; 11 percent use eco-solvent inkjet; and 10 percent currently use latex inkjet. (See chart.)

Nevertheless, many in-plants struggle with the decision to purchase when it comes to wide-format printing. While the question often boils down to whether they have sufficient print volume to justify making an investment in a wide-format printer, InfoTrends believes there are a number of factors and considerations that go into that decision. 

Limitations to Investment

In past research, InfoTrends has learned that one of the major limitations for in-plants making an investment in a print or production technology was that it frequently required additional people to operate it. InfoTrends’ new “Emerging Trends: Wide-format” survey indicates that the types of printers already owned and the types that in-plants expect to buy are the types of wide-format printers that do not require a dedicated operator. This finding points to the need for print hardware manufacturers and front-end providers to continue to develop more ways to simplify and automate wide-format printing systems to accommodate in-plant operations. 



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