Tariff trade wars and trade relations with the U.S. have created some uncertainties within the Canadian marketplace, yet it has not impacted the Canadian economy as one may have expected. According to an RBC Economic Outlook Report, consumer spending and business investment remains optimistic. Despite a cautious spending environment in Canada, when it comes to investing, the current outlook shows that the sign and graphics industry will enjoy a strong 2018-2019 and is forecasting that these trends will continue, thanks to a growing economy (ISA Sign Industry Quarterly Economic Report). The key to doing well in the large-format printing market is to identify specialized/niche wide-format markets that you can capitalize on in your own local market. In this article, I look at both the growth sectors and potential growth sectors in the wide-format printing industry.
- Fabric-based signage
It doesn’t matter who you speak to in the industry, they all seem to agree that fabric-based printing is a hot commodity today. Dan Johansen (Ricoh) was quoted as saying that “textile printing will continue to make a huge impact on the visual communications market in the coming months. Whether it’s soft signage, direct-to-garment, direct-to-textile or anything else in this space, customers look for a quick turn-around time.” Soft signage is lightweight and flexible and most are environmentally friendly. Printed-fabric-based media can be used for tradeshow graphics, flags, banners, backlit displays, home or office décor, custom upholstery and fashion, wall murals and so much more.
- Dimensional and textured printing
Printed media does not need to be limited to a one-dimensional experience, but can also include a tactile experience. Now you can have graphics that not only look good but feel good too. Some wide-format UV printers that can lay down multiple layers of ink can be used to create texture and dimension to produce unique products. Applications include: Braille signage, art reproduction, phone cases, tiles and wall panels, and so much more. This is a creative way to differentiate yourself from other wide-format PSPs.
Manufacturers such as Vescom BV develop, produce and distribute high-quality interior wallcovering, upholstery and curtain fabrics. Their unique digital media offers a premium suite of vinyl media for creating custom textures for wallcoverings, murals and more. Vescom Gold Mylar is one such product that offers a unique finish for murals found in hotels, corporate environments, entertainment venues and retail spaces.
- Art reproduction
The world of wide-format printing is redefining how art is created and therefore providing PSPs with new markets to explore. In the past, artists wanting to reproduce their artwork needed to have it reproduced via the traditional printing press – expensive and slow. Fine art inkjet reproductions are rapidly increasing in popularity and acceptance and the market is huge —galleries, hotels, offices, restaurants, the average art lover and other venues are huge markets for giclée printed fine art. Aqueous printers do a terrific job of printing on art canvas and art paper and are probably the most affordable printers on the market. Even Walmart is getting into the game by buying Art.com, to boost its home decor business. Art.com offers a wide-ranging assortment of art, from affordable and chic posters to limited-edition prints and loft art pieces.
- Customizable décor
New developments in design software and digital printing technology have made it easier to customize graphics for indoor applications. It is now possible to do short-run and one-of-a-kind wallpaper, pillows, blankets, lampshades, rugs, window graphics and many other décor applications. This will make it easier for consumers to create their own graphics in a web-to-print online environment. Hopefully, these new trends will give you something to think about – Cheers!
Having had the privilege of working with Canon Canada for the last 14 years (and in the large-format printing industry for over 20 years), Peter Dulis has had a chance to meet and work with some incredible people in the industry. You can also follow his photographic adventures around the world at www.PhotographyAdventures.ca. Peter is also available for consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org