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The future of global print equipment markets to 2021

Smithers Pira’s printing equipment report

The changes in communication technology, from mobile phones to social media developments, have had a fundamental impact on how people consumed Information and content from 2011 to 2016.

As their preferences shifted toward digital, the use of printed materials in publication and commercial print applications has declined, affecting the level and pattern of demand for print machinery.

Ashley Gange, author of  Smithers Pira’s report The Future of Global Print Equipment Markets to 2021, notes: “From 2011 to 2016 more jobs were being printed, with printing recognising the importance of individuals and micro-businesses as customers demanded high-quality print in smaller quantities. Print service providers used sophisticated workflow and job optimisation software to target new customers, to support them in design and artwork production, to print multiple jobs efficiently on a single sheet and defray setup costs, then to finish and deliver multiple jobs efficiently,

“Overall run lengths continued to reduce in most items (although there are still many long runs), with process changes to optimise cost performance. There were more versions, with updates to make products more timely and relevant, driving instant print fulfilment of very small runs.”

Smithers Pira’s critical analysis of the key drivers shaping this segment shows that the total market value for printing machinery was recorded at almost $16.3 billion in 2016, approximately the same as in 2011 in constant terms. Over the 2011-16 review period, however, there was a significant change in the pattern of sales by machinery sector.

As print runs tended to become shorter over the review period and demand for printed newspapers and catalogues fell, sales of new heatset web offset machinery declined dramatically at an annual rate of 20.2 percent, from $708.4 million in 2011 to $228.7 million in 2016. The sector may have neared its trough point, and although sales are forecast to continue falling, the decline is expected to occur at a much lower annual growth rate of 1.2 percent in 2016-21.

The coldset web offset printing equipment sector is dominated by newspaper presses. The sector recorded a major decline in value as newspaper applications adjusted their business models in the light of competition from the consumption of equal information using consumer digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets and PCs, and from a switch in advertising expenditure to digital media.

The report covers the supply of new printing machinery and equipment for graphics and printed packaging. These are predominantly printing presses, lithography, flexo, gravure and screen, and digital production systems used in print-for-profit (or in-plant) operations. There are also prepress and postpress finishing systems included in the data. The pre-owned (second-hand) print equipment market that is well established across the world, with many of the major equipment manufacturers trading in the sector, was not covered.

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