Hunkeler innovationdays bringing more inkjet

Finally, the Hunkeler innovationdays are back, not only bringing more inkjet devices, but also a lot of technology around the presses – of course with finishing being very prominent. If you have not been to the Hunkeler innovationdays: it is the event to get the best possible overview on continuous feed production presses. Not only will all important vendors for digital commercial, publishing and document printing presses be there, the event also allows seeing the latest presses printing side-by-side.

Hunkeler innovationdays bringing more inkjet

Already in November I had an interview with the new CEO Daniel Erni for exploring what we can expect this time. The relief is, that not much has changed: presses running and producing sample prints and products. 15 printer suppliers are listed for 2023. The big equipment will all be in Hall 2. There are some new exhibitors, which should make the visit the more interesting. Those are:

  • CTRL-S
  • MANZ

For people not able to travel, there is a digital experience, but there is nothing like being there and judging the print output first hand. Since 2003 I am a regular visitor and did see the changes in focus of equipment from transaction print to all kinds of document, publication and commercial applications. After starting as a monochrome toner event these trends resulted in the Hunkeler innovationdays bringing more colour inkjet to the show floor.

Following a four year break it will be good to see the progress made in productivity, quality and automation. As in previous years the Innovationdays will once again take place in the Messe Lucerne exhibition facility. The 2023 event (after two years of cancellations) will run from February 27 to March 2, 2023. Contact me to meet up for a chat or idea exchange.

Inkjet press placements picking up

2022 started fairly well in terms of inkjet press activities. It was supposed to be a decent year after the pandemic weighed down on businesses in 2020 and 2021. However, sales/placement announcements dropped off in Q2 and Q3. Finally, Q4 2022 sees inkjet press placements picking up finally. It ties in with printing companies having a more positive outlook again, e.g. in Germany.

For years I keep on collecting sales and placement announcements for production inkjet devices and use those to analyse trends and data. Placements and sales numbers for 2022 show a good start into the year with a decisive drop in activity in Q2 and Q3. However, Q4 showed a significant rise in numbers, easily surpassing even Q1 2022. Keep in mind that Q4 has not even ended, so there might be a few more units to add.

The lower activity in the mid of 2022 could be caused by a lack of components and supply chain issues mounting in 2022. This has been confirmed by industry analysts and vendor information. It seems that companies are getting a better handle on it now.

Continuous feed (CF) inkjet remains the main driver in the market and accounted for the largest number of installations again. B1 and B2 cut-sheet presses had a good year, with a bit more even distribution across the year. B3 inkjet presses had a very strong second half of the year, although these devices, not being as expensive as the two other categories, are more likely to fall through the grid.

2022 quarterly overview of production inkjet sales and placements

Small publishers and traditional media benefitting in 2022

2022 has not been the year many hoped for in the beginning. War in the Ukraine, supply chain issues, and energy price rises did throw a spanner into many plans. The ad market is surely no exception and the high growth expected had to be downgraded in the year-end reviews coming out now. There were some notable exceptions however as small publishers and traditional media were benefitting in the 2022 ad market climate.

Magna, the central planning unit of global advertising behemoth IPG Mediabrands published its year-end outlook a few days ago. It had some surprising findings. According to Magna’s analysis, the top 15 media suppliers’ share of the global ad marketplace actually contracted two percentage points in 2022 to 58% (and this is not just down to Elon Musk wrecking Twitter). Both, the share for the 3 largest advertising media channels as well as the share of the following 12 largest providers declined, although it does not show all in the chart due to rounding. In any case, it is remarkable as it is the first time that the concentration in the ad market paused!

Share Main media suppliers of the global ad spending
Share Main media suppliers of the global ad spending

Additionally, the gap between growth in digital channels and traditional advertising media was down to 6%. This is by far the lowest gap for more than 12 years, where digital was often more than 20% ahead in growth. It is the more surprising as many expected a much stronger push for digital media after the pandemic experience – and this was certainly true for 2020 and 2021.

It is a good sign that the advertising channels are diversifying again. Grown up years ago it still seems unthinkable to me that 3 media suppliers receive almost half of the global ad spending. Only a few years ago hundreds of newspaper, magazine or directory publishers, TV channels, radio stations, mailers and out-of-home agencies competed for their piece of the advertising pie – almost all only in their own territory. Advertising has the power to change people’s minds (otherwise there would not be so much money spent on it), therefore I feel that it is worrisome that so much spending is concentrated on so few players now. More publishers being supported now is good news for more diverse communities. There is some hope as well that spending on social media platforms promoting misinformation is channeled back into quality journalism.

I hope that small publishers and traditional media will not only benefitting in 2022, but that the tide is turning for a more healthy, balanced and diverse media landscape.

Pulling out of the depression

The German Federation of the Printing Industry (BVDM) is publishing a monthly overview of the current state and business outlook of the printing industry. November 2022 survey data has just been published and it shows that the printing industry seems to be finally pulling out of the depression that started in early 2022.

The survey data covers the current situation, a short term and a long term outlook. Especially the long term outlook for the next six months (Geschäftserwartungen – grey line) showed a strong recovery. Also, the short term outlook (Geschäftsklima – red line) had a 6% upswing, indicating that conditions already start to improve. On the current business situation (Geschäftslage – blue line) remains almost unchanged. All indicators remain in the negative, however.

chart of German print industry outlook nov 2022
Business Situation and Outlook print Industry Germany

Production Inkjet Buying Guide

At Inkjet Insight we have developed a buying guide for inkjet – that is for production printing presses used in document and commercial print. The number of new launches can make this market bewildering and we felt the best would be to present an overview by main target market segments. We had some discussions on which segments would best (and you can still argue), but we came up with four as a good compromise between granularity and breadth of overview.

Entry Level presses cater for the budget minded, which are willing to compromise on speed and/or quality. Still a good number of cut-sheet and web-fed presses are out there. The overview is here.

Big rigs include the fastest inkjet presses in document printing, when the speed trumps everything else. This includes all wide web presses.

The guide for graphic arts quality presses (the ones which can print at offset quality and on standrad coated paper) can be found here. Sheet-fed presses in all sizes and a growing number of webfed presses fall into this segment.

Finally cross-over presses cover the middle ground, when not highest productivity or quality is needed, but a good compromise between everything and a great price/performance ratio.

The Inkjet Insight buying guide for inkjet is intended to give an overview on what is out there as a start for research. There is a lot more detail to each press and digging deeper into specs as well as other factors (price, availability, infrastructure, service,…) will be necessary. If you want to comment, add or disagree, please let us know.