Studies by several reputable sources confirm that Inkjet is the fastest growing printing process in the world, with Asia-Pacific leading the way. Up until last year, the CAGR of the overall inkjet printing sector was calculated to be around 5.1%. That Compound Annual Growth Rate is now 8.32%, according to a new report using 2021 data, issued by Smithers research, and paralelled by Mordor Intelligence.

 Inkjet fluiddynamics RIT
 Faster, higher dpi, wider and more diverse - Inkjet is print's promising future


The inkjet printing market was valued by Smithers and Mordor Intelligence at USD $86.29 billion in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD $138.81 billion in 2027. The market is expected to register a CAGR of 8.32% during 2022-2027. This contrasts with the last survey period published in 2019, of 5.1% CAGR. It's a phenomenal increase and, most likely, is driven by higher inkjet volumes from installed equipment, confirmed by volume growth being 2% higher than average growth; and also the uptake of faster, more industrial inkjet is sectors such as packaging, direct mail, transactional and of course wide format where equipment is being used for output far beyond signage and posters - even into textiles. It's a sesmic shift in the way the world prints - akin to offset's impact 100 years ago.

On releasing its report, Smithers issued the following:

Supply chain and print buying changes, combined with technology advances mean digital print – and inkjet in particular – is now the most important print segment for innovation and market growth. The outlook for this is profiled in a new detailed market data study – The Future of Inkjet Printing to 2027 – authored by Smithers print consultant Sean Smyth.

In contrast to competing analogue processes, inkjet is forecast for strong future growth for a global market worth $86.8 million in 2022. A compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2% for 2022-2027 will drive this value to $128.9 billion in 2027. While inkjet is well established in some lower-run applications, faster presses mean that it is becoming more cost-competitive for longer print runs, even as many customers have revised their print buying strategies. This is reflected in the volume of inkjet prints, which will rise from 1.0 trillion A4 print equivalents (2022) to 1.7 trillion (2027) – equivalent to a 10.0% CAGR for 2022-2027.

Highest growth is packaging

The greatest expansion will come in packaging applications with installations of the latest dedicated presses for corrugated, cartonboard and flexible substrates. Inkjet is also broadening its market with double-digit growth forecast across the same period in commercial print, books, catalogues, magazines and directories. As the technology suite for inkjet improves it is increasingly pushing electrophotography (toner) print out of several core markets.  

Smithers’ comprehensive market data is combined with critical analysis of the technical developments that will shape and support the future evolution of inkjet printing:

  • Press speeds and resolution will continue to increase. Over five years, the 200m/min presses and printheads offering 1200dpi in 2022 will improve to a standard of 300m/min and resolution of 2400dpi in 2027. The segment will benefit from greater integration of robotics using smart monitoring to minimise downtime, and improving precision in direct-to-object print
  • This productivity will be available in a wider range of press formats, including more large format sheet-fed machines, able to produce up to 10,000 A4 impressions per hour
  • The wider uptake of inkjet will see ink prices fall from their current premium. The market will be bolstered by an improved range of UV-curing and water-based inks; and the steady evolution of more specialist whites, metallic effects, fluorescents, varnishes and security inks.
    The arrival of additional embellishment and tactile finishes, will allow further diversification into segments like home décor, transport, garments and other textile applications
  • As inkjet prices fall and higher throughput equipment is installed, digital print will become price competitive with analogue on all but the longest commissions
  • The market is benefitting from technical developments that in enabling inkjet to print on standard paperboard substrates, with a quality that is already approaching that of offset litho at the top of the market. Through to 2027, inkjet print rooms will benefit from systems that give real-time comparison to digital masters to deliver defect-free print runs; and better integration with more options in finishing
  • As a digital-native technology inkjet is best placed to integrate with online sales and maintenance – making it a strong fit for post-Covid boom segments, such as e-commerce packaging. It is also more accessible to new users, helping address the skills shortage that is now afflicting many print rooms. 

These – along with complimentary market trends – are examined in-depth in the new Smithers study The Future of Inkjet Printing to 2027.

No print process is immune to Inkjet

Its comprehensive market data forecasts are presented in over 250 data tables and figures, segmenting this dynamic sector by: End-use application (Books, Magazines, Newspapers, Directories, Catalogues, Advertising Print, Commercial Print, Photobooks, Transactional print, Security print, Graphics, Labels, Packaging, and eight functional/industrial print markets; Ink type (Solvent, Water-based, Radcure, Other); Eight geographic regions (North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia, The Middle East) and 58 leading national markets worldwide.

The Smithers technical and market guide is available for purchase now, priced at USD$6,750.




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