Large Format Printers Poised for Market Growth

Despite pandemic slowdown and digital expansion, printers are in demand—especially in APAC.

A large format printer, the HP Latex 1500. (Source: HP.)

A large format printer, the HP Latex 1500. (Source: HP.)

The explosion in digital media and advertising hasn’t precluded the continued appetite for large format printing. Although the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily stymied the growth of the printer market due to the economic impact of lockdowns and a diversion of resources to the healthcare sector, 2022 is gearing up to be the start of a resurgence for the industry.

The global large format printer market is projected to swell to $11.4 billion USD by 2026, up from $8.8 billion in 2021 with a compound annual growth rate of 5.4 percent, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets. Another report from Allied Market Research estimates a growth rate of 4.2 percent between 2021 and 2030, reaching $13.7 billion.

The adoption of technological advancements in large format printing by major players like Hewlett-Packard, Electronics for Imaging, Xerox Corporation, Lexmark and others are behind much of the growth in North America. Although laser printing was the choice method in the past for fields like architecture, engineering and construction, the development of faster inkjet printers with lower operating costs for large format printing have sparked the desire for use in technical and CAD printing applications.

Another game-changer for large format printing is the emergence of UV-cured ink. Although other inks like aqueous ink and solvent inks come with cost savings and quality, aqueous ink has an extended drying time, isn’t waterproof and can’t withstand UV light. Meanwhile, solvent inks produce extremely harmful chemical fumes during the printing process. In contrast, UV-cured ink dries nearly instantly. In addition, it is UV-resistant and more environmentally friendly. According to Allied Market Research, this makes it likely to dominate the market share with a CAGR of 7.7 percent from 2021 to 2030.

Latex ink is another type of ink for large format printing that could gain in popularity. The ink is a water-based polymer bonded to a substrate with heat that doesn’t require air purification or solvent extraction. It’s also odorless, which makes it a good option for wallpaper. However, the downside of using latex is high energy consumption due to the need for heat, which can also damage some substrates.

In addition to the rise in popularity of dye-sublimation and UV-curable inkjet printers, large format printers are poised to get a boost from the textile and advertising industries. However, initial investment and operating costs are high, likely dampening the outlook. Although digital advertising is a popular option, large format printers are expected to be adopted for uses like vehicle wraps, home furnishing, decor, banners, posters, backdrops for theaters and construction designs. Advances in printer technology mean higher quality images and graphics suitable to showcase architectural and interior designs with clarity.

Even though 2020 represented a slump for the large format printing market due to the closure of manufacturing facilities, signage held the highest market share that year, accounting for over one-fifth of the global large format printer market, according to Allied Market Research. Demand for signage held for indoor and outdoor traffic warning messages, corporate symbols, and retail advertising. The decor sector is expected to experience the fastest CAGR of 6.7 percent between 2021 and 2030 due to home and workplace customization trends.

While the North American market may be the home of the biggest large format printing corporate players, the Asia Pacific region is expected to lead the post-pandemic high growth rate during MarketandMarkets’ 2021 to 2026 forecast period—especially India, Japan, and China, driven by high-growth in graphics, apparel, textiles, CAD and technical printing.

A report from Technavio stated that demand for large format printers is also expected to rise for use by technology, hardware, storage and peripherals industries by $331.91 million from 2020 to 2025. Again, the Asia Pacific region will garner the highest rate hike, accounting for 76 percent of the global growth during that period led by China, Japan, and South Korea.