Three Wide Format Technologies Driving Growth Expectations

Understanding which wide format print technologies are seeing the most growth can help IT decision makers become familiar with new capabilities to help their businesses. This blog post will discuss three wide format technologies that are expected to see double-digit compound annual growth rates (in terms of unit sales) over the next few years: single pass aqueous, latex, and UV-curable.

Estimated compound annual growth rates for various wide format print technologies

Technology/material

Applications

Leading suppliers

Unit sales compound annual growth rate,

2015–2020 

Aqueous graphics

Proofing, fine art, photo, indoor graphics

Epson, HP, Canon-Oce

-2%

Single pass

aqueous

Indoor posters, short-term banners, technical documents

Canon-Oce, FX-Xante, Xerox

64%

Latex

Indoor & outdoor graphics, textiles

HP, Mimaki, Ricoh

11 %

Eco-solvent & solvent

Indoor & outdoor graphics

Agfa, Roland, Mimaki, Mutoh

-10%

UV-curable

Indoor & outdoor graphics

HP, EFI, Canon-Oce, Durst, Mimaki, Roland

10%

Dye sublimation

Fabrics

Mimaki, Epson, Mutoh

21%

Source: Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends Wide Format Printing Consulting Service

As a refresher, wide format printing is considered printing on media that is 24 to 96 inches wide (based on Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends’ definition). This surpasses regular office printers, which typically print on paper that’s no wider than 13 inches.

Single pass aqueous technology

Single pass aqueous technology is seeing the most growth in wide format unit sales, with Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends forecasting a 64% compound annual growth rate over the next few years.

Aqueous technology uses water-based ink that either contains dye or pigment. Dye-based inks can be used to deliver a very small dot size—allowing for exact placement and very detailed images, while pigment-based inks are generally resistant to fading from UV exposure as well as waterproof.

“Single pass” aqueous refers to devices whose print head prints across the page in a single pass, enabling faster printing. With fast printing and turnaround time a top concern for wide format customers, this technology proves highly attractive.

Latex technology

Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends estimates that unit sales of latex print technology will increase at an 11% compound annual growth rate in the coming years.

This technology also uses water as the main ingredient, but the carrier for the pigments is latex-based. While this means exposure to high temperatures is required for drying, the inks tend to cure very quickly—enabling prompt finishing.

Latex inks are considered versatile, as they can print on a wide variety of media—including coated and uncoated materials, backlit films, and textiles. Another benefit is durable output for outdoor and indoor applications.

UV-curable technology

UV-curable technology is also seeing growth in unit sales, with Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends forecasting a 10% compound annual growth rate for this category.

Similar to latex inks, UV-curable inks are deposited on a rigid substrate and “dried” by exposure to strong ultraviolet light. Compatible media types include plastic, wood, and some metals; increasingly, more flexible substrates are supported (the ink does not crack when flexed).

While this technology requires special curing modules in the printer, UV-curable inks produce a very saturated image.

Summary

There’s a reason that wide format print technologies like single pass aqueous, latex, and UV-curable are expected to grow in popularity in coming years. Benefits around speed, versatility, and/or durability making them attractive for a variety of office, technical, and outdoor applications relevant to today’s businesses.