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Vantage Strategic Marketing (VSM) publishes new report covering ‘direct-to’ technologies

Press release from the issuing company

September 30, 2003 - Now in its tenth year of publication, the new ‘Market Opportunities for ‘Direct-to’ Technologies 2002-2007’ is intended for manufacturers and suppliers of machinery and consumables to the offset printing industry. It covers market developments for CtP plates and platesetters, CtF film and imagesetters, polyester and paper plates, digital proofing, DI and electronic presses in North America, Europe, Japan, Latin America and the Asia Pacific Region specifically, as well as the rest of the world. Compiled from extensive discussions with printers, distributors and manufacturers over the past twelve months, the comprehensive £20,000 report looks ahead for the next five years at all the various elements that are likely to affect the printing industry worldwide and highlights Offset Printing - Rather than being written it off, demand for offset printing will continue to grow at some 4% p.a. despite the rise of electronic presses at the short run end of the market. - Even with an installed base forecast to reach 120,000 by ’07, electronic presses will still lag well behind the 710,000 offset presses expected to be installed worldwide at that time. - Overall press sales however, are likely to remain depressed in the long term and press manufacturers will have to become increasingly flexible in their design and market segmentation if they are to survive. Plate Demand - Offset plate demand stood at some 440 M2 million in ’02, of which 26% were CtP plates - up from 18% in ‘01. - Regionally, CtP plate usage now accounts for 48% of all offset plates in North America and 41% in Europe - up from 36% and 29% respectively in ‘01. - Having increased significantly over the past five years, the proportion of thermal CtP plates used has halted at 64% as more visible (violet) address platesetters have come into the market. - The number of thermal plate suppliers has increased by 50% in the past twelve months give rise to speculation of even more plate price erosion. Non-consumables manufacturers such as Heidelberg are selectively sourcing from these newcomers in order to offer bundling deals, while Creo has started to purchase its own network of producers. However, consistency of product and distribution logistics still have to be proven. - VSM expect KPG to announce their own visible (violet) light plate. This is expected to be based on Mitsubishi Chemical photopolymer technology who’s plate manufacturing side VSM expect KPG to acquire shortly. CtP - Sales of platesetters rose by 32% in ’02, confirming VSM’s predictions of adoption rates. The worldwide installed base now stands at some 14,000 machines. - Thermal machines accounted for 56% of annual sales last year - the same as in ’01. VSM indicate that this proportion is likely to decline in favour of visible in the short term until true processless plates become available from the big consumables producers of KPG, Agfa and Fuji in ‘05/’06. - While other industry watchers have predicted a slow down in annual sales of platesetters, VSM see continued growth for the next five years in overall terms. However, the European and North American markets will have neared saturation by the end of the decade, with replacement sales making up the majority of transactions. CtF - Sales of imagesetters continued to fall (-24% in ’02) so that for the first time the number of platesetters sold actually outsold those of imagesetters. - However, the platesetter installed base of 14,000 still remains far short of the 100,000 or so imagesetters that were in place when CtF was at its height. - Despite the onward rush to CtP in ‘developed’ markets, there will remain new sales opportunities for suppliers of imagesetters to the Far East and China in particular, where CtP is, as yet, unaffordable. Graphic Arts Film - Worldwide demand for film fell a further -7% last year. VSM expect the total market for Graphic Arts film to have declined by 33% in the period ’00 - ’07. - Greatest falls will be in Europe and North America which will each see their markets decline by over 60% during this period. Digital Proofing - VSM detect a wavering in demand for halftone proofing as new generation colour management and screening software make inkjet almost unbeatable. Sales of inkjet proofers are expect to top the 60,000 p.a. mark in ’07. Direct to Press - Despite KPG’s active involvement in becoming a DI press vendor, VSM forecast only modest growth for DI presses in the short term. The general commercial printer is not geared to deal with very short runs (where the DI press scores) and the kit and consumables are relatively expensive. Electronic press manufactures have much more flexibility in designing ‘horses for courses’ in tackling this short run market. - VSM are forecasting an installed base of only 5,000 or so DI presses by ’07, as compared with an expected 120,000 electronic colour presses.