Conducted in partnership with InfoTrends, a division of Keypoint Intelligence, 1,405 respondents were surveyed from 102 countries, representing a 59% broader geographical reach than the 2015 research.
Data was collected throughout 2017 at Fespa events and from association members in Europe, Eurasia, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand and South Africa.
The Census collected data from a wide range of printers that defined their business focus as: digital printing (17%); screen (15%); sign and display (10%); textile fabric and direct-to-garment (10%); commercial print and reprographics (13%); graphic arts and creative (11%); packaging (4%); and other (20%).
Key findings included 83% of respondents stating that they are optimistic for the future of their business, up from 80% in 2015.
72% of respondents reported increasing demand for fast turnaround, 61% have seen a growing requirement for short runs, and 59% noted rising expectations of just-in-time delivery.
The sign and display applications landscape continues to be dominated by banners, with 68% regularly producing these and half of respondents seeing continued growth potential. Signs and billboards, meanwhile, maintained their 2015 position among the other top applications being produced by respondents.
The continued growth of printed decor applications was also evident, with 74% of respondents identifying wallpaper and interior decor as a growth area for their business.
54% of respondents cited increased capacity as their main motivation for capital spend, up from 34% in 2015. Cost reduction is a factor for 53%, while diversification into new markets and product offerings remained a key investment focus for 53% of those surveyed.
Revenue from UV, latex and direct and dye-sublimation was found to be growing, in contrast to declining use of solvent, aqueous and analogue technologies.
While textile printing is still dominated by analogue processes, 56% of printers focused on textile have made digital investments, and 19% plan to do so in the next two years. Screen and textile printers expect digital’s contribution to textile printing revenues to grow by 12% in the next two years.
The Census also found that environmental investments are heavily influenced by customer expectations regarding sustainable manufacturing and materials. 76% of respondents said customer demand for environmentally responsible products is shaping business strategy, while more than one in five said it is a major influence.
Fespa executive director Sean Holt said: “The picture in 2018 is a very positive one – we see a diverse community of thriving businesses enjoying sustained growth, responding to evolving customer expectations and taking advantage of technology developments to expand and innovate their product and service offerings.”
The full 2018 Print Census report is available free of charge to members of Fespa national associations or to Fespa Direct members, while non-members can buy the full report for €2,000 (£1,750).