Communication technology will drive changes in the $16.3 billion printing equipment market

spcommunicationtechnology-inAccording to a recent report from Smithers Pira (the global authority on the packaging, paper and printing industry supply chains), changes in communication technology (from mobile phones to social media developments) have had a fundamental impact on how people consumed information and content from 2011 to 2016. As preferences shifted toward digital, the use of printed materials in publication and commercial print applications has declined, affecting the level and pattern of demand for print machinery. “From 2011 to 2016 there more jobs were being printed, with printing recognizing the importance of individuals and micro-businesses as customers demanded high-quality print in smaller quantities,” said Ashley Gange, author of the study. “Print service providers used sophisticated workflow and job optimization software to target new customers, to support them in design and artwork production, to print multiple jobs efficiently on a single sheet to defray set-up costs, and to finish and deliver multiple jobs efficiently. Overall run lengths continued to decrease in most items (although there are still many long runs), with process changes to optimize cost performance. There were more versions with updates to make products more timely and relevant, driving instant print fulfillment of very small runs.”

Smithers Pira’s critical analysis of the key drivers shaping this segment shows that the total market value for printing machinery was recorded at almost $16.3 billion in 2016, approximately the same as in 2011 in constant terms. Over the 2011-16 review period, however, there was a significant change in pattern of sales by machinery sector. As print runs tended to become shorter over the review period and demand for printed newspapers and catalogues fell, sales of new heatset web-offset machinery declined dramatically at an annual rate of 20.2% – from $708.4 million in 2011 to $228.7 million in 2016. And although sales are forecast to continue falling, the decline is expected to occur at a much lower annual growth rate of 1.2% in 2016-21.

spcommunicationtechnology1-inThe coldset web-offset printing equipment sector is dominated by newspaper presses. The sector recorded a major decline in value as newspaper applications adjusted their business models in the light of competition from the consumption of equal information using consumer digital devices (such as smartphones, tablets and PCs) and from a switch in advertising expenditure to digital media. This report covers the supply of new printing machinery and equipment for graphics and printed packaging. These are predominantly printing presses, lithography, flexo, gravure and screen, and digital production systems used in print-for-profit (or in-plant) operations. There are also prepress and post-press finishing systems included in the data. Smithers Pira did not attempt to cover the pre-owned (second-hand) print equipment market that’s well established across the world, with many of the major equipment manufacturers trading in the sector. For more information, please click here: ‘The Future of Global Print Equipment Markets to 2021’.



Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.