By Bernice Hynard, General Manager: Print Solutions
While we are already seeing advancements in technology that improve the efficiency, security, and quality of printing, we can also expect a shift in consumer behaviour, with the demand for a range of varied and unexpected printing solutions continuously increasing.
This growth, powered by worldwide digital transformation, ongoing advances in technology, and a new breed of demanding customers, ensures a wide range of factors are at play, influencing the printing industry in 2023.
While e-readers and other digital media continue to soar in popularity - a trend that shows no sign of slowing down, as digital makes access to media easier and less expensive – the printing industry still holds a few cards up its sleeve.
With several exciting new innovations that are set to revolutionise the industry, print is reinventing itself. For example, breakthroughs in technology such as 3D printing facilitating prototypes more rapidly, more economically, and spanning a wider set of industries than ever before.
Moreover, this innovation enables printing industry experts to create custom goods directly from source, cutting out the middleman, and fulfilling customer orders with greater speed, and often at a far higher quality, than before. 3D printing sets new standards by enabling far more complex designs to be executed than the traditional printing process ever could.
Similarly, as the design restrictions associated with traditional printing are eliminated, and 3D printers manufacture ready-to-use items, such as machine parts or medical modifications, in a matter of hours, or even minutes, prototyping of almost anything one could imagine, becomes infinitely faster.
Custom printing takes off
Another innovation we are seeing, is the rise in custom printing, across a wide range of media, including clothing, books, and magazines. This is a clear indication that customers are after more individualised products and services, and that printing vendors are asked to rise to the occasion and offer a wider range of solutions to meet this demand.
In fact, the advent of customisation has completely changed the way consumers buy products and has empowered the purchaser to bring their unique creativity to life through modular, personalised, and bespoke products, printed on demand, even in small quantities.
The printing industry is waking up to this phenomenon and jumping on the customisation bandwagon. Before customisation rose in popularity, businesses had to invest heavily upfront, store specific products in bulk, and keep their fingers crossed that it all sold before going out of fashion. Custom has printing turned this phenomenon on its head, as companies can quickly create bespoke products without incurring any extra expense.
The rise of holographic printing
Not surprisingly, given that brands in every industry are constantly looking for new ways to make themselves stand out from the competition, another major trend in the printing industry is the rise of holographic printing. Although it is not entirely new, holographic printing is becoming more affordable and can easily be used to heighten a brand's marketing efforts, helping to raise profitability and customer-centricity.
Today’s consumers demand a level of convenience and personalisation that can only be delivered by harnessing the latest technologies and innovations the industry has to offer. Holographic technology is one such printing trend that is set to soar in the coming years.
This printing method brings a number of advantages for brands, including the ability to create high-quality holograms at an affordable cost. Concurrently, it helps businesses set themselves apart from their rivals, by creating a realistic experience, and giving clients the hyper-individualised products that they are looking for.
Going greener and the allure of sustainability
Another trend that is set to grow in the next few years is the rise in sustainable printing solutions. As the world becomes more environmentally conscious and eco-friendly, green technologies will no-doubt be incorporated into every facet of IT.
Eco-friendly printing materials continue to advance and businesses are becoming more aware of how they can reduce their carbon footprint, lower costs, and enhance their brand story and relatability, at the same time.
Multi-function printers soar in popularity
One final trend that is accelerating as entities become more aware of waste in their business processes, is the use of multi-function printers (MFPs). During the almost overnight move to distributed workforces, there has been a gradual shift from single-purpose printers, copiers, scanners, and faxes, to all-in-one MFPs as the ideal solution for remote workers.
MFPs are becoming highly popular because they support intelligent document management and significantly drive the contemporary objective of consolidating office automation fleets. For starters, they take up less space than single-purpose devices, and are often less expensive to buy, run, or even utilise as-a-service.
In addition, tying into our point about sustainability, the amount of innovation we’ve seen in creating office automation tools that have less impact on the environment is encouraging. For one, safer materials including ultraviolet (UV) and electron beam (EB) inks are replacing the volatile chemical compounds that were commonly used in the past. Furthermore, MFPs are being designed with the efficient use of energy in mind.