Last updateMon, 01 Feb 2021 12pm

Konica Minolta: 4 Market Trends for Production Printing 2021

Through the crisis with digital technologies, automation, inkjet and finishing

There is no doubt that the Corona pandemic will leave its mark on the printing industry. The coming months will show how severe the impact will be, which sectors are most affected and how quickly a new normality will be established in the printing industry. What is certain, however, is that despite all the changes in the print and media industry, digital printing will once again hold its own. With the possibilities of digital technologies, print service providers and printers are addressing changing customer demands through new and profitable business models. Konica Minolta has identified four market trends in production printing that printers will not be able to avoid in 2021.

Crises have a way of accelerating rather than slowing down ongoing technological developments. Currently this is clearly evident in the areas of automation, web-to-print and the procurement of print products via web shops. In parallel, the transition from analogue to digital technology has gathered massive momentum in recent months. The combination of these developments points the way towards print processes that are fully end-to-end automated in the coming years. This will meet the needs of printers, who will have to make do with fewer and fewer operators as their workload increases.
1. digital printing will benefit
Digital technologies will continue to challenge traditional printing for market share in 2021. Commercial printers would be well advised to expand their range of digital printing services as traditional offset/flexo print jobs increasingly disappear.
The IDC study "Out-of-the-Box Thinking: Industrial and Production Printing in the Aftermath of Covid-19"1 identifies sectors where the pandemic has created new opportunities in industrial and production printing: Labels and Packaging, Finishing, Signage and Textiles. These are sectors in which digital printing in particular scores with profitable business models. IDC forecasts an increasing recovery for digital printing in the coming year, after sales of both toner and inkjet printing systems fell significantly in the middle of the first lockdown throughout Europe.
In terms of overall volume, the global print market will shrink in the coming years - but only slightly. According to Smithers Pira's study "The Future of Digital vs. Offset Printing to 2024"3 , output (measured in billions of A4 prints) was 49,973 in 2014 and is estimated to reach 49,654 by 2024. Digital printing continues to be the fastest growing print segment. Although it still has a market penetration of only about 5% in terms of total page volume, it now accounts for 20% of the total global market value.
Growth engine 1: Automation
In the current situation, printing companies face substantial challenges. These include the need for cost-cutting measures as well as the ability to handle the increasing volume of digital print jobs with ever shorter print jobs and the constantly high margin burden. The industry is therefore increasingly interested in the topic of automation. After all, automatically running process steps in print production relieve operators of error-prone routine tasks. Consequently, Konica Minolta has equipped its new flagship in toner-based sheetfed printing, the AccurioPress C14000 series, with automation technologies that control a virtually autonomous print run as soon as the job is started. Just eight months after its sales launch in Europe, Konica Minolta stands at 200 installations of such a system. These sales figures are one of the reasons why the company has remained the leader in the production of digital printing systems with a market share of 26.1%.
The series is particularly popular in Germany and Austria, where more than 50 printers and print service providers have already opted for the system. In Germany, Konica Minolta is the market leader in production printing with a market share of 42.9 per cent, as it is in Austria with a market share of 39.1 per cent, according to InfoSource (full year 2019). Konica Minolta continues to drive this development with its latest series, the AccurioPress C4080, which is equipped with extensive innovative automation technologies.
3. growth engine 2: high-end inkjet printing
The market for inkjet-based sheetfed printing systems will continue to gain momentum in 2021. Inkjet printing has already established itself as an advantageous solution for many high-end applications. Sheetfed inkjet printing forms an efficient technological link between digital and offset printing - a development that will become increasingly consolidated in the coming year. Contributing to this are recent technological developments that enable systems to produce on a wide range of media - be it fine art and picture printing, uncoated papers, transparent media, foils, metallised media, canvas or plastic substrates. The successor to the Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1, the KM-1e, which will be unveiled in summer 2020, will further fuel the trend to switch from offset to inkjet printing. With this system there is no production-related need to use special digital printing papers or to treat the surface of the substrate in advance, for example with primer.
4 Growth driver 3: Digital finishing
Digital finishing will again have a positive impact on the production printing market in 2021. This is because it represents a profitable opportunity for print service providers, commercial and in-house printers to stand out from the competition. UV spot varnishing in defined areas allows four-colour digital and offset prints to be enhanced with exceptional 3D haptics. Combined with an inline foil module, even more glossy effects can be achieved.
A refined package, book cover or brochure in turn awakens the consumer's incentive to buy. A study by the Foil and Specialty Effects Association, for example, shows that these products generate 18 per cent more attention than pure print products. This is not least due to the fact that a variety of foils are used, which can also be used alternatively in security printing. Personalised finishing, which can only be realised digitally, is also becoming increasingly popular and offers agencies and publishers the opportunity to address customers directly with the greatest possible effect. After all, the consumer's visual attention has a strong influence on their purchase decision: the longer they focus on an item, the more likely they are to choose it. Entry-level models for UV spot coating in particular, such as the MGI JETVARNISH 3D One, offer print service providers new opportunities to generate profitable orders from the publishing and advertising sectors in the finishing market.



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