It looks like flexographic printing will have a banner year in 2019. An expanding economy, more manufacturing activity and rising retail sales will help the U.S. flexo market reach around $20 billion.
Flexo printing inks alone should see more than 4.5 percent growth, heading toward a $24 billion by 2024.
So what’s behind the expanding flexo market?
4 Flexo Trends to Keep An Eye Out For in 2019
The experts point to a few trends that are helping things along:
Speed is becoming a priority
Increased use of digital technology
Adaptability to a changing market
A consumer appetite for branded goods
1.Automation Rises and Durability is Prioritized
Customers want their products as close to the order time as possible. Amazon and others have seen to that, and flexo is no different. This means faster turnaround times are becoming more important than ever to meet demand.
Fortunately, improvements in factory automation as well as image carrier technology can help flexographic printers meet their goals.
Here’s what savvy press operators have on their wish lists for 2019:
Continuous print solutions that don’t yield plate breaks and seams.
Durable elastomer image carriers that offer higher ROI than traditional plate materials.
More software integration into their presses and technology on the floor.
Flexo printers who don’t opt for more automation and improved image carriers will likely be left in the dust.
2. Digital on the Rise
What happens to the non-automators will also almost inevitably come to printers who stick with analog. Digital is here to stay, but adopting it will affect your budget. Opting for digital printing can be more expensive.
One of the less disruptive trends is toward hybrid printers. They’re able to meet the growing demand for short-run capabilities by reducing changeover times significantly.
Shorter runs look to be an enduring trend, and having a digital answer to the challenge is important.
3. Markets Change
The wallpaper trend is fading, as are some other formerly important flexo markets. This does not mean flexo is fading, people still want expensive products that require branded packaging that can be printed flexographically in booming markets (think craft beer labels).
Increased flexo capabilities are allowing flexo to expand into more markets than ever, encroaching on the territories that were once exclusively gravure and other methods.
4. Consumers Get Richer
People want more expensive products because they have more money. The middle class is more affluent, and it’s looking for cool stuff to buy, especially in places like North America and Europe.
Right now, North America accounts for something less than a third of the world’s flexo market, with Asia holding the lead by a wide margin.
In 2019, we expect to see growth in the North American flexo market due to higher consumer demand for flexo products -- and the growing capabilities of flexo to meet these demands.
Additionally, we’ve been seeing an increase of European presses coming to the United States, thusly growing the market here.
Staying Ahead of the Future
Seeing into the future is impossible, but it pays to follow trends and invest when possible. There’s always the possibility that circumstances will cause trends to reverse or simply fade away, but experience says that the ones outlined here will probably stand the test of time—at least a year’s time.
It will be interesting to check in again in late 2019 to see how things are going. In the meantime, the future looks promising for flexo printing.