Why go into large format printing?

Some people say that printing is a sunset industry, that large format printing is going down. Well, is it?

There are many things to consider when looking at the future of such a longstanding industry, and there are many variables and unknowns to such an equation. One thing we do know is that large format displays will be here to stay for a very long time. In an era where marketing, media, and advertising is more pervasive than any time in history, large format displays serve as the primary medium for physical advertisement and

This article serves to address some of the more prevalent issues that revolve around large format printing, and why it makes sense to enter such a seemingly competitive and saturated market.

The first issue that most prospective entrants have is competition. Most cite a saturated market and cut-throat price pressures. They aren't wrong. However, just as in most other markets, clients in the print industry can also be stratified, as shown in the diagram below.

The diagram depicts the pyramid of prospective clients in the print industry. Right now, most of the competition is concentrated around the base of the pyramid, which is predominantly a high volume, low margin business. Barriers of entry are so low, that almost anyone can participate with a low-grade machine and mediocre products. Now here's the interesting part - much of the upper tiers of the pyramid remain unsaturated. Barriers to entry become higher at the upper levels as clients who are more particular about colours and quality are more often the ones who are willing to pay a
premium for it. Machines like the Epson S80670 will allow you to compete effectively in these profitable pockets in the market. By competing in these market segments, you will not only be able to enjoy higher margins, you will also be able to raise the profile of your company and tender for larger projects in the future.

Knowledge and expertise
Another common concern is that they do not have the necessary expertise to penetrate the large format printing industry. The ability to execute effectively in large format printing can be broken down into two parts: i) printing, and ii) installation. Firstly, large format printing in many sense is
similar to other forms of printing (offset, digital, label, etc), so many of the skills required are actually transferable. And if that's not impetus enough, large format printing can be picked up fairly quickly as long as one has a rudimentary knowledge of design software such as Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop. Most companies who supply these printers will provide
training for your operators.

A note of caution: many nonbranded printers or distributors who aren't reputable may provide no, or shoddy training and technical support, therefore your choice of whom you decide to work with must be carefully considered. Secondly, we understand that most
companies would want to provide a complete solution, which necessarily involves installation of large banners, backlits, and wall stickers. Such installations can be tedious and labour intensive, which is why we suggest sub-contracting the installation part of the job to firms specialising in this area.

Once the volume reaches a point where the return on
investment makes sense, then consider building an in-house
installation team.

Disruption in the industry
Lastly, opponents of large format printing often tout the emergence of new technology, such as LED displays, which will render industries like large format printing obsolete. It may be true that LED displays have begun to occupy certain areas of the advertising space which used to be dominated by large format prints, however, there are several reasons as to why we are convinced that large format printing will be insulated from disruption, at least in the near future. Firstly, as new technologies creep into the market, applications for large format printing is broadening at an equal, if not quicker, pace. The range of usage for wall stickers, backlits, and fabric usage continues to grow as advertising becomes more commonplace and affordable. Large format printing technology has also advanced leaps and bounds, which has the dual effect of making the cost of printing cheaper while improving print quality. Secondly, certain applications for large format prints remain irreplaceable for the foreseeable future. For example, vehicle wraps are not likely to be substituted by LED displays due to the hazardous nature of lighting displays on moving vehicles. Installation for large format prints is straightforward. LED displays are still limited by size, and when they do increase in size, costs increase disproportionately.

Cause for optimism
There are many reasons to justify our optimism toward the industry, to renew the faith of the pessimists, and to quieten the naysayers. This article lists but a few. In short, we believe that the industry holds much promise and profit for the bold who dares venture. With the right tools and careful support from trusted suppliers, the moat that protects large format printing against disruption remains robust.

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