26 Oct 2021

Smithers Pira highlights impact of changes in communication technology

Communication technology drives changes in the $16.3bn print equipment market, says Smithers Pira

The changes in communication technology, from mobile phones to social media developments, has had a fundamental impact on how people consumed Information and content from 2011 to 2016, according to Smithers Pira.

As their preferences shifted toward digital, the use of printed materials in publication and commercial print applications declined, affecting the level and pattern of demand for print machinery.

“From 2011 to 2016 there more jobs were being printed, with printing recognising the importance of individuals and micro-businesses as customers demanded high-quality print in smaller quantities. Print service providers used sophisticated workflow and job optimisation software to target new customers, to support them in design and artwork production, to print multiple jobs efficiently on a single sheet and defray setup costs, then to finish and deliver multiple jobs efficiently,” says Ashley Gange, author of the report

“Overall run lengths continued to reduce in most items (although there are still many long runs), with process changes to optimise cost performance. There were more versions, with updates to make products more timely and relevant, driving instant print fulfilment of very small runs.”

In its new report, ‘The Future of Global Print Equipment Markets to 2021’ [http://www.smitherspira.com/industry-market-reports/printing/equipment-raw-materials-and-consumables/future-of-global-print-equipment-markets-to-2021] Smithers Pira’s critical analysis of the key drivers shaping this segment shows that the total market value for printing machinery was recorded at almost $16.3 billion in 2016, approximately the same as in 2011 in constant terms. Over the 2011-16 review period, however, there was a significant change in pattern of sales by machinery sector.

As print runs tended to become shorter over the review period and demand for printed newspapers and catalogues fell, sales of new heatset web offset machinery declined dramatically at an annual rate of 20.2%, from $708.4 million in 2011 to $228.7 million in 2016. The sector may have neared its trough point, and although sales are forecast to continue falling, the decline is expected to occur at a much lower annual growth rate of 1.2% in 2016-21.

The coldset web offset printing equipment sector is dominated by newspaper presses. The sector recorded a major decline in value as newspaper applications adjusted their business models in the light of competition from the consumption of equal information using consumer digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets and PCs, and from a switch in advertising expenditure to digital media.

This report covers the supply of new printing machinery and equipment for graphics and printed packaging. These are predominantly printing presses, lithography, flexo, gravure and screen, and digital production systems used in print-for-profit (or in-plant) operations. There are also prepress and postpress finishing systems included in our data. We do not attempt to cover the pre-owned (second-hand) print equipment market that is well established across the world, with many of the major equipment manufacturers trading in the sector.