Everybody seems to be talking about wide-format graphics these days. It’s no wonder. When wide-format was largely a screen printing operation, it was an entirely different business. Now that it’s being done on digital devices, it’s growing in the commercial printing industry like gangbusters, both in volume and creativity.

It’s not just that the equipment now fits the printers’ business models. It’s that there is still much untapped opportunity. With the ability to print on pretty much any substrate, you can do things that nobody even considered before. Who imagined that we’d be talking about PSPs cranking out personalized wallpaper for orthodontists’ offices, branded apparel, or corporate décor? Yet, here we are.

In a November 29, 2018 webinar (“Accelerating your Path to Profitability with Wide-Format”), Dan Johansen, marketing manager, commercial and industrial printing for Ricoh, cited data from variety of research studies that show just how quickly this technology is growing. While these numbers aren’t new, as we prepare to head into a brand new year, they remind us just how important wide-format is becoming.

  • The retail value of wide-format print is growing at a healthy 6.7% CAGR — from $16.1 billion in 2012 to $22.3 billion in 2017.[1]
  • Among print providers, 73.6% of those surveyed say their print volumes of wide-format graphics have increased.[2]
  • Among print buyers, 31.4% of those surveyed said their volumes of wide-format graphics will increase, while 63.8% said their volumes will hold steady.[3]

This growth, Johansen said, is being credited in part to the introduction of new substrates, which are opening doors to an exploding array of applications, from indoor and outdoor, short- and long-term, and everything in-between. “Every surface is an art board,” he said. “Diversity is driving innovation...and fueling growth.”

Citing InfoTrends data, Johansen showed the demand for wide-format by industry. The fastest growth is among healthcare (59%), advertising, (57%) and construction (55%), and retail (54%), with the others not far behind.[4]

Most profitable wide-format applications? Banners (with 55% of respondents saying this category is highly profitable), vehicle graphics (53%), signs (51%), and wallpaper/interiors (49%). 

To me, wallpaper/interiors is particularly interesting because it reflects the newer applications for this technology that are on a growth trajectory based on “Hey, I didn’t know we could do that!” How cool is that when you can offer your customers the opportunity to do something they didn’t even know was possible?

It was really neat to see this data compiled and made available to the industry. Wide-format is on everyone’s radar right now, and with numbers like these, it’s easy to see why.


[1]“Wide Format Service,” InfoTrends 2017

[2]“Emerging Trends Wide-Format,” InfoTrends 2017

[3]“Wide Format Printing Critical Element in the Communications Mix,” InfoTrends 2013

[4]“Looking for BIG Opportunity in Graphic Communications & Specialty Printing,” InfoTrends 2017