Color drives the production printing market

Ralf Schlozer
Jul 23, 2012
Every year InfoTrends updates its five-year print on demand (POD) forecast, with the latest edition now covering the years from 2011 to 2016. The forecast looks at placements, print volumes and revenues achieved in digital production printing. It is becoming obvious that digital printing is not a niche process anymore. The retail value of digital printing (excluding office, home and large format printing) in the U.S. and Western Europe was $63 billion in 2011 when considering all production printing environments from copy shop and small in-plant to large commercial printers and data center service bureaus. InfoTrends expects revenues to grow by about 4% annually.
What is noticeable in the current forecast is that the growth rate for color impressions in production copying and digital printing has accelerated compared to the previous forecasts. In fact, the growth rate is expected to increase to 18.5% CAGR compared to almost 15% in the last forecast for the United States. Continuous-feed inkjet color and, to some extent, the expected new B2 devices are responsible for this growth. Since there is an increased color share in this forecast, color impressions will have a more pronounced influence on the total POD volume and associated revenues. The color share of all U.S. impressions is expected to grow from 23% in 2011 to 48% in 2016. The decline rate of black and white impressions, however, remains almost unchanged. Western Europe will show an even stronger shift towards color, with an average annual growth of 20.4% for impressions made on color devices- opposed to a decline in impressions on black & white devices of over 7% per year. The European market is already more inclined towards color print and by 2015 more digital impressions in Western Europe will be done on color devices than on black & white devices. This is quite a shift for a market in which black & white accounted for 80% of impressions only five years ago.

Annual Impressions: U.S. and Western Europe - Production Copying & Digital Printing

The trend towards more color is reflected by product launches. We counted six new black & white production devices selling for the first time in 2011, while over 50 color production devices became commercially available in 2011. Even when discounting entry-level colour products, devices in the overlap market of high end office and small production environments such as copy shops, quick print and CRDs, 27 new true production devices started selling in 2011. And there is no end in sight of the constant stream of new color products.

At drupa 2012 B2 products and technology announcements grabbed the headlines and stirred the interest of print service providers. For the time being InfoTrends is taking a more conservative stance on the growth opportunities of digital B2 presses. Experience tells that it takes time to commercialise a brand new generation of devices on the supplier side and to build up enough volume on the print service provider side to make good use of a potentially very productive class of machines. We were also not convinced by what we’ve seen of some of these early B2 designs and think that some fine-tuning of the press concepts is still necessary. Nevertheless even small numbers of the B2 presses will be very productive and account for about 5% of all colour impressions by 2016.

The growth of high-speed continuous-feed color inkjet, on the other hand, is in full swing already. We have seen a stunning growth in uptake in recent years and expect the growth to continue for several more years. These devices will account for more than half of all color impressions by 2016 and has gone from a minor contributor to production digital print pages a few years ago to a challenger not only for offset, but also for electrophotography.
The shift towards inkjet has strong implications for service and supplies revenues as well. The average cost per color impression in services and supplies will drop by about 12% annually, mainly driven by the ultra-high volume inkjet printers. The upside of the drop in revenues per impression is, that digital print will become ever more competitive compared to analogue processes.
InfoTrends’ recently published the U.S. Production Printing & Copying Market Forecast 2011-2016 and  Western Europe Production Printing & Copying Market Forecast 2011-2016. Both provide a placements, installed-base, print volume, equipment, service, supplies, and print revenue forecast for the production printing and copying market between 2011 and 2016 in the respective geographies. It includes dry toner, liquid toner, and inkjet printing technologies in process color, spot color, and black and white.
These reports are available immediately for purchase. Forecast for other geographies will become available soon. For more information, please visit our online store or contact Stephanie Tose at 781-616-2103 or

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