The huge influx of print service providers (PSPs) into the wide-format print market in recent years has made it an incredibly competitive sector, with a number of leading manufacturers vying for business.
With such intense competition between some of the industry’s leading brands, it begs the question, who will come out on top in the long term?
Simon Isaacs, National Sales Director for Ricoh UK, said that the manufacturers likely to see more success are OEMs that can provide end-to-end service and control their manufacturing process, rather than just resell equipment produced elsewhere.
This, Isaacs said, is why Ricoh has a significant advantage in the market, as despite being a relative newcomer to wide-format, Ricoh has unique heritage in inkjet development that stretches back to 1973.
“Most people don’t realise what we offer, as we have the broadest portfolio of solutions in the print industry,” Simon said. “Our clients also have access to all of the other SMB and enterprise solutions we offer, such as IT and workspace products.
“Approximately 30% of printheads used in the wide-format print market – and indeed more in other parts of the inkjet sector – are developed by Ricoh. You can see for yourself our level of innovation in this area.
“We have learnt from experience and have great expertise in providing printheads to the industry and empowering PSPs to achieve their goals. With this in mind, we are always working to improve our offering and bring new, innovative solutions to market.”
Leading with purpose
Among some of the most recent and major developments for Ricoh in terms of its future wide-format print strategy come in the forms of acquisitions and collaborations.
Some of the latest additions to Ricoh’s portfolio are digital inkjet printing software specialist ColorGate, 3D print surface print expert LAC and workflow solutions provider Avanti. Aside from these acquisitions, there are exciting collaborations with textile ink company Farbenpunkt, finishing specialists Comagraf, Summa and Valiani, wallpaper companies and paper houses.
Together, Simon said this positions Ricoh as an attractive end-to-end solutions provider to work with in the wide-format sector.
“Ricoh leads with real purpose,” Simon said. “We have the breadth of experience to look at the big objective and help create a system that takes a business closer to realising its goals.
“We also help at a much smaller level; we can consider the purpose of every process, every document, every touchpoint in the business; we can find ways to do them better, and to maximise their contribution towards attaining the wider objectives.
“It makes Ricoh an organisation that has a far more profound purpose of its own than simply selling things. Instead, we are value adders. We help customers implement their own digital transformation.”
With constant development a major part of Ricoh’s wide-format print strategy, this ensures Ricoh keeps up to date with the latest advancements in the wider market in terms of both the technology available to PSPs and indeed the types of work that is driving growth.
Looking at printing hardware, Simon has no hesitation in recommending UV and Latex technology over solvent and analogue or screen machinery. UV and Latex presses offer a much more environmentally friendly option than alternative technologies, with an increasing number of PSPs opting for this type of kit.
Simon said investment in UV and Latex wide-format printers – such as the solutions on offer from Ricoh – also allows PSPs to take advantage of the work sectors that are proving to be most profitable and active in the wide-format print arena.
“At Ricoh, we’ve seen significant increases in the amount of personalisation, customisation and on-demand print work being produced by our customers,” Simon said. “These trends have been apparent for some time now and demand for this type of work shows no signs of slowing down.
“There’s also rising demand for bigger, large-format work, such as applications in the interior design market. Ricoh’s expertise in inkjet allow our customers to access profitable work in this growing sector.”
So, what is next for Ricoh in wide format? Ricoh already has an extensive range that caters for the target audience within general commercial print, corporate print and the signage market, experiencing growth in each of these sectors year-on-year.
However, Simon said that Ricoh is not a company to rest on its laurels and will continue to commit significant R&D resources and spend to continuing to improve its solutions in the wide-format market and beyond.
“We are constantly improving, we always listen to customer feedback and we release new technology to the market on a regular basis,” Simon said.
“Constant innovation will always be a core focus for us at Ricoh. Some 30% of all R&D global spend is committed to production print, where we see huge growth potential in 2021 and beyond.”