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Marco Boer on where the wide format market is going

Published on November 30, 2012

Marco Boer, VP at IT Strategies, talks to Richard Romano about where he sees the wide format market going and discusses innovations happening and the implications for printers in the future.

Richard Romano: Hi, this is Richard Romano, Senior Analyst for WhatTheyThink.com and we're talking with Marco Boer from IT Strategies about the wide format market. Thank you for joining us.

Marco Boer: Good morning.

Richard Romano: Now, where do you see the wide format market now and where do you see it going in the foreseeable future?

Marco Boer: Wide format printing market is a phenomenal market. It's almost 20 years old and by most measures in digital printing that would be mature, but we are on the cusp, I think, of a new generation of innovation. We're seeing lots of new ink developments, echo solvent being at prices lower than ever before, latex, UV curable. And so the range of applications that you can print on is just exploding. And that's causing continued growth. So it's a great space to be in.

Richard Romano: And what are some of the hardware and technology innovations that are also driving the market?

Marco Boer: So the real innovations have come, as I mentioned, from the inks. The ability to print not just indoor signage, but outdoor to get better quality. The range of products that are being printed is just phenomenal. You've got people printing on vinyl and all the sudden making shower curtains of them. So they're profitability of the output as a result of being able to print on this broader range of substrates is just causing really a lot of excitement, particularly among people that have never invested in these machines.

Richard Romano: So who are the types of businesses that are investing in these machines? Are they general commercial printers moving in to the wide format space or are they all sign shops moving into wide format or screen printers, or does some combination of them all?

Marco Boer: So historically if you look back it was photo labs that first adopted them. Then we got into screen printers. But as you hinted at, the real growth is coming from commercial printers, 'cause commercial printers have the customer base and the quality and the ability to print, you know, very short runs. It sort of mixes with what they're doing on the document side.

Richard Romano: Now what type do they need to know that just tell wide format services to clients versus what they needed to know in the document market?

Marco Boer: So the trick is really – typically, it's backwards stumble into it where they say, "Oh, you know, my customer orders all this collateral and, oh, I have this absent proofer. I could do a poster for him because they couldn't get it done at their screen print shop." And then they roll into other, you know, bigger account deals. It just moves on from there.

Richard Romano: What about finishing? Is that an issue as well? Should printers be looking to adding finishing equipment or what would your advice be there?

Marco Boer: Finishing is depends. It's such a broad field, but the largest growing application actually for echo solvent and latex these days, or the fastest growing, is vehicle wrapping. And so you print the vehicle wrap and that might cost you $300, $600 but then the mounting or the finishing of that could cost you $2,000. So it's incredible how that finishing creates an ancillary revenue that that often is larger than the print value.

Richard Romano: Nice until somebody invests say drive-through wide format printer.

Marco Boer: That'll be a little ways away.

Richard Romano: That would be a little ways away. Any other advice you have for commercial printers who might be looking to get into this segment?

Marco Boer: I would recommend probably investing sooner rather than later because the old adage is, you know, if I wait technology's going to become cheaper, but the reality is is that the real cost isn't the learning curve. So it's the opportunity cost. So the sooner you start, the sooner you'll learn it and most of these devices are now so within reach of getting a return on investment of probably three months, six months that that really doesn't bode well to wait.

Richard Romano: Great. Well thank you very much for joining us.

Marco Boer: Thank you.

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Wide Format Editor

Richard Romano

Richard Romano, Section Editor/Senior Analyst
Richard has written about communication, graphics hardware and software trends for the past 15 years.

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