FESPA 2016: 10 years of wide format digital print

FESPA 2016 in March is not just the return to Amsterdam, but also the 10 year anniversary of the biggest wide format printing show in the world. 10 years ago wide format printing was one of the hottest items in our increasingly digital industry. According to Lynda Sutton, FESPA´s marketing manager, the fact that digital print´s market share has doubled is confirmed by the number of exhibitors and visitors expected for 2016. 2008 saw 234 exhibitors and 9,317 visitors, this is expected to be twice as much in 2016, based on visitors and exhibitors of FESPA Digital 2014 in Munich. That year 16,766 visited FESPA Digital´s 536 exhibitors.
FESPA Digital 2016 has to prove that wide format is alive and well, and that new applications such as textile printing, interiors and industrial printing offer growth opportunities for entrepreneurs who have the guts to invest in these. More info on 10 years of aid format in the following FESPA press release:
2006 to 2016: 10 years of wide format digital print

As FESPA gears up for the 10th anniversary of the FESPA Digital branded show back at its start point in Amsterdam in March 2016, Lynda Sutton, Marketing Manager at FESPA looks back at how digital wide format technology has grown since 2006.

FESPA Lynda Sutton

A decade of digital growth

10 years ago, FESPA launched its dedicated exhibition “FESPA Digital 2006” which was to focus on emerging digital technologies in the signage and graphics market.

Taking place in Amsterdam, the event played host to 234 exhibitors and attracted an attendance of 9,317 individual visitors. Since then, the most recent iteration – FESPA Digital 2014 in Munich, hosted 536 exhibitors and saw a total attendance of 16,766 – an increase of 129% and 80% respectively since 2006.

This growth has also been mirrored by that in the digital printing market, with its overall global market share set to more than double from its 9.5% share in 2008.

 to 19.7% by 2018. This is hardly surprising when you consider the number of commercial printers expanding into wide format or the fact that almost 50% of respondents to The World Wide Survey 4 in 2013 saw digital printing as the key to their future success.

Indeed, two years later, print businesses surveyed in FESPA’s Print Census reported a CAGR of 7% revenue growth for digital wide format print from 2007 to 2015.

Buoyant businesses

Even amidst the maelstrom of the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, wide format print service providers remained optimistic. If you look back at the 2007 and 2009 versions of The World Wide Survey, respondents rated their optimism for the industry at 7.1 and then 7.2 on a scale of 1 to 10 .This positive outlook was proved correct as the industry weathered the economic storm particularly well compared with other areas of the industry, driven in part by how digital print’s flexibility enabled many to explore alternative applications and revenue streams.

If print businesses’ intentions to invest in new equipment is an indicator of market health, this is definitely a market that is on the rise. In 2010, 37.4% had such plans, by 2012 this had risen to 47% and in 2015 more than 50% of print businesses indicated their intent to buy digital wide format printing equipment.

Broadening markets

The technologies that feature in purchase plans are telling too. In 2012, 40% of respondents had plans to buy a UV-curable inkjet printer and no other technology was in the plans of more than 13% of respondents.  In 2015, however, purchasing plans were far more mixed, dominated by UV printers (27%) and textile printers (21%), with solvent printers (17%), eco-solvent printers (16%) and latex printers (14%) also featuring.

The reasons for these investments have changed too. While the most common objectives for investments in 2012 were speed, ability to print onto uncoated materials and access to special colours or capabilities, by 2015 most investments (45%) were being planned with a view to moving into new markets.

In part, this diversification was necessitated by challenges that arose during the recession in the late 2000s. However, developments in wide format digital print technology have also been a major driver in this broadening of markets, with wide format digital print now being used in ways that may not even have been imagined back in 2006.

Throughout the first ten years of FESPA Digital we have not only witnessed, but also been part of the exciting digital developments changing the face of the wide format print industry. We have evolved our event portfolio to reflect this, introducing the Digital Textile Conference in 2008 to educate the market about wide format digital print for textile applications, and more recently launching Printeriors to cater to the growing printed interiors market. Now, as we look ahead to celebrating the tenth anniversary of FESPA Digital in Amsterdam in 2016, we look forward to continuing to support the industry in shaping the exciting future of wide format digital print.


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Rob van den Braak

Printer’s devil (1964), phototypesetter, offsetprinter, teacher of graphic techniques, salesmanager, productmanager, trade journalist, founder of BlokBoek e-zine (2011). But above all husband, father, friend and lover of life in southern Spain (since 2010).

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