In a world where consumers are becoming more conscious of their consumption and the scarcity of natural resources, digital print technology remains the shining light for print providers in a fast-moving world. The digital age of cross-channel communications may change how we understand, interact and live but will never replace the excitement that print generates.
With digital printing being described as the “engine of growth”¹ for equipment manufacturers in the 2020s, we continue to see a pendulum swing towards from analogue as more brands and retailers identify agility, automation and fast response as critical factors in meeting rapidly changing demand patterns in a new world of opportunity.
Other trends towards fast fashion, short runs, personalisation and quick delivery are underpinned by using digital printing. There are real positives as we move forward with the analogue to digital transition. It is like the sound of charging horses moving ever more closer and getting louder. The transition is unstoppable.
With trends accelerating such as automation, online print purchasing and webshops, we see opportunities everywhere for customers wanting to ignite printing possibilities as they continue to enter a new world of
opportunities afforded by new applications that can only be delivered through digital production.
Looking forward, we see further adoption of process optimisation and automation in the drive to the smart factory. People’s skills and creativity will always be important and valuable for print businesses, but automating processes wherever possible reduces labour costs as well as maximising productivity. Less touchpoints help eliminate the chance of human error that can cause costly delays or mistakes in production.
Workflow, software and process automation, together with cloud solutions, and post-press are key drivers towards efficiencies and creating added value as part of the drive towards the ‘smart factory’. Opportunities are everywhere. Commercial and industrial print markets continue to grow thanks to digital printing, as run lengths continue to come down and demands increasingly grow for sustainable ways of production by reducing waste. This has become ever more important, particularly with global challenges over the availability of raw materials plus price and energy rises, as well as skills shortages that have hit confidence levels.
Packaging is also a strategic part of a product, for which printing is essential. Traditionally, this was done using analogue systems with large-scale production. However, the need for short runs, cost reduction and fast turnaround times are all factors that are now accelerating the penetration of digital solutions in this segment.
Whereas analogue still dominates the overall print market in volume and value terms, digital is growing more quickly and taking a higher share of the value, a trend accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. According to Smithers², the rise in digital print value across Europe as a print process is growing, from €27.6 billion in 2017 to €41.2 billion in 2027, a change of 14.2%, and by volume all digital will go up from 351 billion A4 prints to 582 billion A4 prints, a change of 66% in the same 10-year
period. Overall, digital value will go up from 16% of all overall print and printed packaging value in 2017 to 19.8% in 2027. Smithers³ points to digital printing as the “high growth sector of print-for-profit and is also changing supply chains and business models”.
There is still growth in cut sheet colour, electrophotography is making some inroads into packaging, is well established in labels and is growing in cartons and flexible packaging, “but inkjet will have the major growth, with many suppliers proclaiming the arrival of a truly disruptive technology”⁴, adding that its achievable quality is the
equivalent of process colour litho. And it is the “fastest growing print process”.
New inkjet equipment is the fastest growing equipment in many categories⁵, one of which is sheetfed inkjet where we have such an important presence with our multi-award winning AccurioJet KM-1 presses, dubbed “the Swiss army knife of printing” because they have so many uses.
With digital printing technology in the ascendancy, we remain extremely positive for the future. Our optimism is also mirrored by the 8th drupa Global Trends Report⁶ that points to returning confidence despite the global economic markets experiencing more shocks in the last two years than at any time since the second world war. “Printers and suppliers report a determination to grow their business, investing as necessary, starting in 2023,” says a summary of the report⁷.
Analysts Smithers⁸ also predict a ‘consistent’ rise in digital machine sales in to 2032 with recovery meaning a return to near-2017 investment levels. New equipment sales will increase by 2.2% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) in the 10-year period.
“New printing machinery is the engine of growth for the digital print market,” states the report⁹. “In electrography there are cut sheet and webfed machines at various levels of performance. Inkjet has a very wide range of machinery – low cost, wide-format machines, specialist integrations and a wide range of we and sheetfed presses in various formats.”
By 2032, digital print will be worth $230.5 billion, accounting for almost a quarter of all print and printed packaging (just under 30 trillion
prints). The report¹⁰ also states the digital print value will grow at 5.8% CAGR constantly from 2022, while volume will rise by the same amount, a total increase of 75.2%.
Inkjet is the big winner. This accounted for 61.4% of digital print value and 62.4% of volume in 2017. Inkjet will increase to 74% of value and 77.5% of volume in 2032. Smithers says the lower volume growth reflects the phasing out of mono continuous toner printing – except in some security niches.
We see opportunities in both toner and inkjet markets for our customers, as we seek to help rethink commercial opportunities with them in a partnership approach. Digital technology enables access to many features that customers in the commercial print, packaging and industrial sectors seek for profitable applications.
Besides accreditions like FOGRA certifications for the KM-1e HD and KM-1e presses in the area of our inkjet presses, we also had many successes with our toner-based systems, which we are confident of repeating into 2023. As one example, our AccurioPrint 7100 Series won a BLI (Buyers’ Lab Incorporated) 2022 Colour PRO Award from Keypoint Intelligence less than a year after being launched, as well as toy safety certification from TÜV Rheinland (also awarded to the AccurioJet KM-1e).
From entry-level presses such as the launch of the 100ppm entry-level AccurioPrint 2100 through to high-volume presses such as the AccurioPress C1400 Series, Konica Minolta uses advanced technology and designs for its award-winning printers. Together with partner MGI, we recognise the growth and opportunities afforded by providing added value on prints through coating and finishing technologies.
But we won’t be resting on our laurels. There is still a huge job to be done in educating the market on the benefits of digital production. In a partnership approach, we are determined to help our clients to identify and unlock the potential digitalisation that holds and to reach the next
level in the digital maturity of their organisation by rethinking the workplace.
In addition to continuing to cement our position as one of the major manufacturers in commercial and industrial print production, we will also look at the bigger picture to help customers shape their future. In support of an “intelligent connected workplace”, Konica Minolta offers cloud, IT, managed print and video solutions services for remote working, collaboaration, workflow management and automation and security.
We look forward to the opportunities we see ahead. And one thing for sure is that the pendulum swing towards digital production across all markets will become ever-more prominent.
About Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe
Konica Minolta’s journey started 150 years ago, with a vision to see and do things differently. We innovate for the good of society and the world. The same purpose that kept us moving then, keeps us moving now.
Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe GmbH, based in Langenhagen, Germany, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Konica Minolta Inc., Tokyo, Japan. With its unique expertise in imaging, data processing and data-based decision making, Konica Minolta creates relevant solutions for its customers - small and medium-sized businesses, large enterprises and public sector - and solves issues faced by society.
As a digital workplace solution provider, Konica Minolta helps its clients to identify and unlock the potential digitalisation holds and reach the next level in the digital maturity of their organisation by rethinking the workplace. In support of an ‘Intelligent connected workplace’, Konica Minolta offers cloud, IT, managed print and video solution services for remote working, collaboration, workflow management and automation and security. The company’s success in driving transformation is also confirmed by IDC, since the ‘IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Print Transformation 2023 Vendor Assessment’ has named Konica Minolta a “Leader” in print transformation. Konica Minolta has been a Microsoft Global Managed Partner since 2021.
Konica Minolta's Igniting Print Possibilities offering helps printers, converters and brand owners maximise workflow automation to increase efficiency. The company delivers consultancy in all communication matters as well as top-of-the-line production, packaging as well as label printers. Its finishing devices create print products that stand out and create added value. Konica Minolta has established itself as the production printing market leader for more than a decade in Europe (InfoSource).
For an increasing number of organisations, success today is more than the narrow definition of financial prosperity – it also includes protecting the environment and having a positive impact on their workforce as well as the societies they are embedded in. With its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Konica Minolta has pledged to consistently pursue its sustainability and social responsibility goals.
The company has been repeatedly recognised for its rich history of social contribution as well as for working towards achieving the SDGs throughout its business and supply chain. Konica Minolta received a GOLD Level Recognition Medal in the EcoVadis sustainability ratings for 2023.
For its remote services, Konica Minolta was awarded the prestigious ‘Buyers Lab (BLI) 2023-2024 Pacesetter Award in Remote Service for the Western European market’ from Keypoint Intelligence.
Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe is represented by subsidiaries and distributors in more than 80 countries in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. With more than 8,700 employees (as of April 2023), Konica Minolta Europe earned net sales of over EUR 2.26 billion in financial year 2022/2023.
Worldwide, the company has over 39,000 employees and is operating in over 150 countries.
For more information, please visit https://www.konicaminolta.eu/eu-en/news and follow Konica Minolta on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
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Team Manager Brand Positioning & Architecture, Content Strategy & Development
Corporate Communications International Marketing Division
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