February 9, 2017 | Amanda Flower

5 Takeaways of 2017 Printing Predictions

How’s 2017 shaping out for you and your business? Are your strategies and goals aligned with the predictions of printing experts?

LaManna Alliance, a cadre of specialized partners offering business advisory services to the print industry, released their 2017 Predictions for the Printing and Print-Related Industries. Several thought-leaders contributed compelling insights to industry predictions for 2017 and it’s projected to be an exciting year.

Our 5 key takeaways:

  1. 2017 looks bright
  2. 20-30% growth rates projected for the printing industry
  3. Innovation is fueling the growth of the label industry
  4. Optimization of job and asset management is critical
  5. Hybrid printing – processes combining flexography and digital technologies – is proven

A reoccurring trend shed light on narrow web label printing and converting being a vibrant and excited sector of the printing industry. Labels and packaging continue to be an area of growth.

Rock LaManna, President and CEO of LaManna Alliance says, “In 2017, you should be pushing 20-30% growth rate. Otherwise, you’re lagging.” Now that’s inspiring motivation moving into a new year.

2017 Printing Growth Rate

“Brand owners and end users are getting accustomed to and now demanding innovative, personalized labels,” shares Steve Katz, Editor of Label & Narrow Web. This demand is creating the need for flexibility to meet and exceed expectations.

Converter successes we’ve seen with this include optimizing existing workflows with the advantages of digital hybrid label solutions. Continuous advancements being made with digital technologies, to include faster speeds and inline decorating and converting, combined with the rise of shorter run sizes and production order quantities makes the purchase of a digital label press more compelling.

As Ray Dickinson, Vice President Marketing and Business Development – Digital Solutions states, “Converters considering the purchase of a digital label press found ROIs to be far more compelling than previously, transforming the former question of ‘what work makes sense to run digitally’ to now asking ‘what work makes sense to run flexographically?’”

Digital vs Flexo Printing

Flexibility in job and asset management by integrating the two printing processes – digital hybrid and traditional flexo – will improve efficiency, lower costs and waste, and deliver more profits for the entire operation. 2017 is turning out to be an exciting year for the label and packaging industry.

LaManna says it well, “It’s going to be a fascinating year in so many ways. Buckle up, folks. The wild ride has just begun!”

Please see full contribution of those quoted below.

Rock LaManna, President & CEO of LaManna Alliance states:

“My outlook for 2017 is BRIGHT!

Bright is the word for a vibrant marketplace. Across the board, we’ve seen strong growth in wide format, labels, converting, signage — everyone is doing well. In 2017, you should be pushing 20-30% growth rate. Otherwise, you’re lagging.

Right now, it’s a great seller’s market, but it’s an even better buyer’s market. The buyers really know the marketplace, they know the future. They have the talent, strategy, and resources.

One of the biggest stories in 2017 will be talent. I can’t tell you how many owners I’ve talked to who have said they can’t get enough operators to grow their businesses. Who will invest in the training programs to grow your own well-trained workforce? I’m not sure you can count on the government for anything these days – who will make it a priority to do it themselves?

It’s going to be a fascinating year in so many ways. Buckle up, folks. The wild ride has just begun!”

Steve Katz, Editor of Label & Narrow Web shares:

“The past 12 months have shown what makes narrow web label printing and converting such a vibrant and exciting sector of the printing industry. And as the calendar moves into 2017, I see no signs of a slowdown. Momentum will carry over into the New Year, and companies that are not current players in the space are going to continue to look toward labels and packaging as a potential area for growth.

The year 2016 was chock full of activity. Events such as Dscoop, drupa and Labelexpo Americas saw the global and regional introductions of breakthrough digital technologies. Hybrid printing – processes combining flexography and digital technologies – have also made major inroads in the label market. Over the last few months, numerous digital and hybrid press installations have been announced from converters of all sizes, and I only expect the rapid pace of digital press purchasing activity to continue into 2017.

Inkjet printing technology keeps improving with regard to speed and quality and will continue to challenge and compete with the leading electrophotographic (EP) press manufacturers. There are numerous digital press manufacturers now, and of the newcomers, it will be interesting to see who emerges and who falters.

In addition to major equipment acquisitions forthcoming, I also envision some major M&A announcements. I predict big players will make big moves, thus throwing their hats into the label ring – and digital will prove to be a driving force. Recent developments have been Brother acquiring Domino, Bobst acquiring Gidue, Heidelberg adding Gallus, and Flint Group acquiring Xeikon. I’m anticipating more moves like this.

Innovation is fueling the growth of the label industry on both the converter and supplier levels. Brand owners and end users are getting accustomed to and now demanding innovative, personalized labels. The bar has been set high, and we at L&NW, are looking forward to what’s in store for 2017. To stay on top of the label industry, subscribe to both the print issue as well as our weekly e-newsletter!”

Mark Andy’s very own Ray Dickinson, Vice President Marketing and Business Development – Digital Solutions reflects and predicts:

“2016 was a year of change for digital printing in the narrow web labels and packaging market. Hybrid technology made considerable advancements in its ability to meet, and exceed, expectations of both converters and brand owners. Converters considering the purchase of a digital label press found ROIs to be far more compelling than previously, transforming the former question of “what work makes sense to run digitally” to now asking “what work makes sense to run flexographically?”

A primary driver for this paradigm shift has been speed. As label production speeds are now exceeding levels of 200 linear ft/min (61 m/min), it is no longer only very short run sizes which are cost advantaged to run digitally. Couple these advances in speeds with the wholesale shrinkage of run sizes and production order quantities and we are now at a point where digital label production is making more and more sense for a wider variety of jobs.

As we move into 2017, higher-speed digital hybrid presses, coupled with right-priced consumables, will make those former breakeven points between flexo and digital almost non-existent. This doesn’t mean an elimination of flexo, but rather an optimization of job and asset management. Converters who take advantage of all-digital workflows and single-pass digital hybrid printing with product decoration and converting, will free up space in their flexo work centers to run larger jobs more exclusively. This flexibility in job and asset management will yield more sellable units, lower costs and ultimately higher profits for the entire operation.”

Closing Thoughts

Will your business stay ahead of the trends? Mark Andy is committed to offering customizable solutions that respond to your unique needs and offer flexibility to grow in the future.

Our digital hybrid solutions are efficiently designed, end-to-end workflows offering digital printing with in-line converting, decoration and finishing all in a single pass for any size converter or any size job.