Last week, Big Picture published an informative article (Ask the Experts: The State of Wide Format, 11/16/16) that asked six digital print specialists to share the current state of the industry and what to expect next year.

“The wide-format market continues to redefine itself in the regard that multiple, entry-level products are being replaced by volume-oriented machines. Durable ink types such as pigment, latex, and UV have been the primary form of the wide-format deposition process. However, there is room in the market for new durable inks.” – Steve Urmano, Director of Wide Format at InfoTrends.

What We Expect to See in 2017

Heading into 2017, we expect to see demand for ink features continue to grow as wide-format UV inkjet moves into new markets. Emerging substrates and new applications create the need for ink that is developed to withstand different processes and end uses. Because wide-format machines are able to produce more and more output, and digital UV ink is being pushed to new limits, all aspects of the process have to be continually adjusted and re-evaluated, including ink technology. Ink technology is complex and the changing demands require constant R&D, which is why Fujifilm spends millions of dollars each day on research and development.

More commercial printers are beginning to see the value in upgradeable machines because technology is advancing at such an accelerated rate. The ability to swap channels quickly and efficiently is critical in order to eliminate unnecessary downtime on the PSP, and it also helps justify equipment purchases. If a commercial printer can increase capacity or attract a new group of customers by having new offerings to meet changing demands, they can act swiftly and protect the future of their business.

We also expect to see high-production wide-format inkjet printing prying its way into the industrial market as part of a manufacturing process. In this industry segment, high production machines like the Onset X series are being pushed to fit into an existing process and meet the performance requirements needed for the manufacturer. Just like most other areas of print, they’re also seeing the need for shorter print runs and more versioning than ever before. We all need to get used to this because the dynamics of print are changing.

“The Onset X series isn’t the only one that will see a move toward manufacturing,” said Heather Roden, product marketing manager for the Acuity product line at Fujifilm. “The Acuity Select series will also experience the same trend. In particular, the Acuity Select HS in conjunction with Uvijet KV will continue to make a big impact in the thermoformed vending machine applications. We’ve also seen the Acuity LED II being applied in touch panel displays.

“Finally, as the market continues to mature, users continue to clamor for LED-cured UV equipment. While the Acuity LED is already meeting that demand, we are projecting more movement in that direction.”

There’s no doubt that 2017 is going to be an exciting year for the wide-format printing industry.