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MAN Roland launches major analysis of the print market

Friday, 03 October 2003
By Print 21 Online Article

In its most recent Print Media Monitor (expressis verbis Edition 2002), MAN Roland has looked into the development of the print media under qualitative aspects: Which applications do the given print products in a portfolio represent? Where is the trend heading? The findings: sheetfed printing is firmly established in the three market segments of publications printing, commercial printing and packaging printing, especially where high-quality results are demanded. In publications printing, sheetfed presses produce books, works of reference, forms, calendars and greeting cards. In commercial printing, sheetfed presses are used for producing brochures, short-run catalogues, folders and flyers, direct mails, as well as in-store and outdoor advertising material. In packaging printing, sheetfed presses are indispensable for the production of transport packaging and dis-plays, collapsible boxes, paper labels and package bands, film/foil labels, and metal packaging.

Print product portfolio shows more
Nevertheless the more recent trends influence the individual value of every print product, and it is worth looking at the current trends. In the course of globalisation and with the advances in commu-nications and technology, new print products will result and new market niches will come into ex-istence. The portfolio model developed by MAN Roland Market Research Department, helps in sizing up opportunities and challenges and on the basis of detailed study, describes four types of print products.

1. The endangered Print products increasingly tend to be replaced by electronic solutions or to be produced on PC by the end customer himself. They include questionnaires, bank order and in-voicing forms as well as greeting cards.

2. The complementable Print products will continue to coexist with electronic products. Works of reference with below-average growth chances is an example.

3. The rocks Print products will prove such in the battle with the electronic media. For sheetfed production, packaging printing is a prime example.

4. The sellers Pushed by the advertising industry, print products are the fastest-growing print market. Advertisers demand ever-new concepts enabling them to improve the efficiency of their advertising and to cover target groups in more exact and individual ways. So the future looks rosy for brochures, folders, flyers and direct mails as well as various cross-media products.

It will become necessary for every printer, the sheetfed printer in particular, to define himself through an individual, unmistakable print product portfolio, in which variety of production options and producing for niche markets must not preclude each other. Whatever the segment – publica-tions, commercial or packaging printing – the important thing is to set trends individually or with others, instead of just jumping on the bandwagon. The portfolio of print products with which a graphic arts company forms its operational profile should guarantee that the printer does not be-come easily replaceable as a provider of services.

Emerging trends
The market for print media is becoming progressively more diverse. A company can no longer be successful in the market on the basis of price alone. Specialisation is called for, and answering special customer wishes.
Commercial printing segment
The medium-size, all-round commercial printing business increasingly needs reliable, highly pro-ductive and flexible presses for a broad range of substrates. The need for high-performance sys-tems in the half-size format is also growing.
A high maximum rate of sheet output is required despite the tendency towards decreasing run lengths because in fierce competition it can in any case affect a higher net productivity and shorter, more flexible delivery time.
The market for the exquisite [high-coated and embossed print] can be developed further. This makes it possible for the strong medium of printing to consolidate its position, because no electronic medium can emulate the haptic and visual perceptions conveyed by enhanced books or brochures.
Not only poster printers desire an even larger size, for example, in format eight it is possible to produce City Light posters in one piece. Additionally, advantages result in displays and in the form of high folding carton multiples.

Packaging printing segment
The demands of packaging printers are especially dynamic, regarding availability and productivity in the fully industrialized production process. Packaging printing companies increasingly use half-size format presses in addition to large- and medium-size types, specifically to offer their customers greater flexibility.
Packaging has not only a front or outer side. The back, or inner side, formerly not printed, is being more and more widely used for additional information or other extras. A packaging printer producing inside-printed folding cartons enhanced by coating must, in order to do so economically, be able to produce with one pass through the machine.
State-of-the-art press technology is increasingly being used for special-purpose machines. Metal decorators, for example, want to produce their tins in sheet offset just as efficiently as packaging printers produce there folding cartons. Offset postprinting of corrugated board is also becoming more widely used, and plastic film is becoming as uncomplicated to process as any other printing material.

Publications printing segment
Higher efficiency is desired especially in book printing. New perfecting concepts provide even more cost-effective production possibilities for this – such as the ROLAND 900 for 1/1 printing in short-run application. Since 2000, five presses of this type have been sold and are producing most suc-cessfully.

Percy Dengler is Sales Manager Sheetfed Presses at MAN Roland.

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