A research firm Smithers Pira has revealed that digital printing will continue to take market share from offset presses.
The company said digital printing will have a market share of about 16.2% of the global print market and 2.9% of the volume.
It is an increase from 2.1% of volume from 2012 and the transition is expected to speed up to 3.9% in volume by 2022.
The report titled – The Future of Digital vs Offset Printing to 2022 forecasts that digital (toner and inkjet) process is expected to grow very fast between 2017 and 2022.
The dominant offset litho is expected to decline in terms of value. On the other hand, flexography in packaging is expected to moderately expand.
For the present year, litho is still the dominating method in printing in terms of the number of pages printed and by 2022, it could still account for about 70% of the world print output, but most of litho printing is relatively low – value publication printing such as newspapers, magazines and directories which are falling. And digital printing is expected to have the most lucrative opportunities in the form of value-added work.
From its introduction back in the 1970s, digital print has developed significantly for transactional print and colour cut sheets arrived in the mid-1990s.
And from then on, electrophotography and inkjet received lion’s share in terms of R&D budgets being spent on printing technology, which has helped in improving the quality, reliability and productivity of systems forward and at the same time reducing end-user cost of producing print. This helped in the adaptation of the technology into print service providers and packaging converters.
On the other hand, developments in workflow have also lowered transaction costs associated with printing, opening new market opportunities for individuals and small-businesses.
Sheetfed litho has also benefited as printers were able to group jobs together on larger sheets to share set-up costs. With automation in place, set-up times an wastage have also reduced, making litho more cost-effective against cut-sheet colour toner presses. Such incremental developments have replicated across all printing processes and now many companies are switching over to advanced manufacturing techniques to further improve their efficiencies.
Report author Sean Smyth said: “The relative cost position of analogue and digital printing is continually changing as new equipment comes on to the market, and the volumes of toner and inkjet grow while prices fall. This is generally making digital print more cost-effective against traditional analogue printing at ever higher run lengths.
“There is a continuing trend of falling run lengths as print buyers act to make sure their content is up to date and there is pressure to reduce the amount of inventory and work-in-progress. The result is a continuation of the analogue-to-digital print transformation.”