The signage and graphic display markets have come a long way since we first launched our ImagePerfect range of digital substrates almost 20 years ago. Back then, we were predominately producing digitally printable white and clear vinyls to support our customers’ customers’ visual communication objectives.
Now, the number of different substrates and the types of creative applications being produced is staggering, with many of our customers contributing to a global printed Point-of-Sale(POS)/signage market that amounted to 12.8 billion square metres of material in 2014 and was worth over $49.4 billion. And with the speed and level of product development showing no signs of abating, what does the future hold for sign service providers and other promotional print businesses?
That’s up to the customers, who play a fundamental role in driving product innovation. As their needs and those of their clients evolve, so does the technology to meet their requirements. We’re constantly being pushed and inspired by the vision and invention of the signage and visual communications professionals we work with to help them realise their ideas.
Furthermore, buyers and specifiers are choosing media more carefully for each job. They know it’s quality that counts and buying cheaper materials is potentially false economy, reflected in strong sales of our higher performance cast-coated banner materials. But it’s not just superior quality – customers today are seeking out the right material for every job. ‘Making do’ just isn’t good enough.
Currently, we’re recognising a number of other market trends:
- Productivity: The need to operate faster has wide format printers asking for two key things: improved handling for high throughput, and optimum ink absorption to stop ink ‘swimming’ on the surface of the substrate or delay drying, both of which cost the printer valuable time.
- Durability: Signmakers require greater dimensional stability to prevent shrinkage post-installation.
- Environment: We’re also seeing demand from our customers’ customers for graphics that fit with their environmental purchasing policies, for example PVC-free and biodegradable products.
- Self-adhesive: Demand for vehicle wraps and window graphics is driving suppliers to innovate in areas such as bond strength, repositionability and opacity to prevent show-through and give the finished application a crisper look.
- Soft signage: Another growth area, particularly in the events industry but also in applications such as indoor wall graphics.
- Decorative: Offers huge business potential for graphics professionals. We’ve helped customers to pursue this by introducing special interior decoration products including wallpapers.
Moving forward, we‘re confident that that the majority of printers and signmakers will continue to benefit from the latest substrate developments to diversify into new application areas. This may include areas such as digitally printed apparel and promowear, while more businesses may begin to explore self-adhesive vinyl for vehicle wraps and other decorative applications.
Every day, customers surprise us with their ideas and we relish the challenge that it presents us. Not only does it enhance our R&D, but it benefits their business, their clients’ business and the industry as a whole.
For more information on our latest product developments, please visit https://shop.spandex.com/en_GB