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Worldwide Study on Direct-to Technologies Looks from Now to 2006

Press release from the issuing company

July 22, 2002 -- Industry analysts Vantage Strategic Marketing announce the successful publication of their new report ‘Direct-to’ Technologies 2001-2006. Based on intense personal interview programmes with leading suppliers, distibutors and end-users around the world, the 200pp report supplements the VSM pre-Ipex review published in April. Among the main findings of this, their ninth year of reporting information on the offset printing industry, VSM are of the opinion that Offset Litho Printing will remain the dominant process within our forecast horizon (and beyond) for general commercial printing. Although some volume will be lost to digital and other processes, for shorter runs, litho itself remains competitive with continued improvements brought by press manufacturers, CtP and quality control, in the areas of make-ready and reduction in paper waste. For all but the longest runs, litho remains unchallenged. Much of the digital colour printing is still for new products that would not have previously been printed by litho, or any other process, and can provide printers with incremental growth opportunities. Offset Plate Demand will grow at an average +3.4% p.a. between ’01 - ’06, to total some 500 m2 million worldwide. China and the SE Asian markets are expected to provide the main impetus to growth as better quality printing plates replace second-hand refurbished plate usage in those countries. CtP plates are expected to continue their dramatic growth in all sectors, but particularly in US and Europe. CtP plate demand accounted for 18% of the total plate market in ’01 and is expected to represent over 40% of worldwide demand in ’06. CtP Platesetter installed base totalled some 9,900 machines by the end of ‘01. Although this is still far less than the 68,000 or so imagesetters installed, the gap between annual sales of the two systems is narrowing rapidly. Last year, thermal platesetters accounted for 56% of all sales. However, the new generation of violet machines was only just starting to be shipped in any quantity, and in practical terms, there was really only one available plate. We expect this situation to change in the shorter term with additional plates becoming available and violet platesetter prices softening. 8pp format machines continued to account for the majority of sales - a little over 50% - but demand for 4pp machines increased significantly. The next few years will be one of increasing change, with the prospect of true commercial processless plates and platesetters becoming available; faster CtcP using true conventional plates; and the promise of inexpensive, higher quality inkjet CtP platesetting perhaps undercutting the present CtP technologies. Polyester CtP Although not everyone’s cup of tea, polyester CtP continues to grow at above-average rates in the smaller press format sector. Although requiring dedicated operation, we expect its adherents to remain loyal, even in the face of the new generation of 2pp metal platesetters now coming on to the market. Polyester and paper plates are expected to represent some 6% of all plate demand in ’06. Digital Proofing will have increased its importance from 28% in ’99 to 72% in ’06 in terms of finished proofing media. The affordability of inkjet and the great advances made in colour management systems making inkjet proofs acceptable for the majority of print jobs will see its relative importance virtually double from 32% in ’01 to 61% in ’06. Imagesetter sales of new machines fell almost 30% in ’01 compared with ’00 as the upswing in platesetter investment hit home. North America and Western Europe fared worst, recording annual sales falls of -44% and -26% respectively. Sales to S.E. Asia were also down, but we suspect that this may have been a temporary blip as second-hand machines were offloaded from developed western markets. The outlook for new imagesetter sales is not bright. CtP will continue to be implemented in more and more markets where digital workflow has been incorporated in daily use. GA Film. The robust growth in CtP adoption will see worldwide film demand decline by an average -4.1% p.a. between ’01 and ’06. Total demand for Graphic Arts film is expected to be 266 M2 million by ’06 - a net loss of almost 62 M2 million over five years. DI Presses continue to fulfil niche market roles where dedicated application can produce higher profitability. DI address technology continues to improve but so does conventional press performance. Despite all the positive spin placed upon DI - and we agree that ultimately the DI printing press should become the workhorse of the industry - our short term view is for continued modest adoption. We counted 2,400 DI press installations as of end ’01 versus some 48,000 electronic presses in place worldwide. The Report and associated consultancy programme, which is sponsored by most of the world’s leading GA suppliers, is available on annual subscription and covers markets in North and South America, Europe, Japan, China and SE Asia. For further information, or for specific articles about any of the above subjects, contact Barry Happé at VSM - [email protected]