Over half of the 250 printers surveyed globally by document technology strategy and consulting firm Infotrends, on behalf of Fespa, reported that digital wide format represents more than a third of their revenue, with 72% expecting this to be the case in two years’ time.
The survey also found levels of planned investment to be higher than any other time since 2007, with 51% of respondents planning to buy a new wide format digital machine in the next year, up from 37% in 2010.
Chief executive of Fespa Neil Felton put this increased interest and investment positivity down to an improved economy and to printers now understanding the wide range of applications digital can open up.
He said: “The economy is looking up, though we’re not through the downturn completely. But it’s looking up for the majority of the European countries we deal with and internationally.
“And digital is opening up so many applications. There are so many more opportunities out there with these applications and I think printers are now understanding better all of the different things they could be doing.”
Backing this up, the survey found that though banners, posters and signs remain the top three applications, textiles, POP, wallpaper/interiors, building wraps and ‘industrial’ applications are the fastest growing.
Eighty-one per cent of printers report handling more textile work, followed by 71% for POP, 69% for wallpaper, 68% for building wraps, and 67% for industrial print.
The report also found that, though solvent and aqueous inkjet still dominated, with 48% and 43% respectively using these technologies, other technologies are gaining ground.
Almost a third of those surveyed plan to invest in UV inkjet, 16% in eco-solvent and 13% in latex.
Another key reason for increased interest in digital, is the need for shorter turn-arounds, according to Felton, with more than half of those planning to invest doing so to achieve faster output.
Felton reported that his organisation hoped to build on these findings, from 53 countries, including the UK, by widening the survey’s reach in 2014.
He said: “If we can do this on a massive scale, so you can go into each individual country and find out the individual quirks and trends there, that’s even more useful. That will take wide format research to a whole new level.”
“We’ll be having a research facility at all of our shows next year. If we get 200 per show then immediately you have quite a lot. Then throw our database in as well, which is vast, and we’re going to have quite a sizable survey.”