The signage market has seen rapid growth over the past five years and analysts are confident that this trend is set to continue, stimulated by new applications and technologies, writes Dave Connock, development manager: Designjet Large Format Printing at HP RSA. 

It is important for vendors to provide digital solutions that are designed to help print service providers (PSPs) evolve their business strategies to meet rapidly changing industry demands.  Industry projections show a double-digit growth until 2011 and this makes now an ideal time to invest in solutions that provide companies with a new competitive edge.
The wide format revolution and growth is driven by market conditions, changing consumer behavior and innovative technology.  More and more enterprises from global corporations to local businesses are recognising the importance of wide and super-wide format products to address local market needs.  Simultaneously, signage in cities, shopping areas, on vehicles and public transportation is growing as a medium and becoming an integral part of the marketing mix.
Advertising agencies, for example, are among the customers interested in versatile, high volume production of durable outdoor and indoor applications.  They are constantly striving to develop creative campaigns and projects to drive brand recognition through larger media formats and more dynamic print solutions.  They therefore require technologies that provide greater differentiation and versatility in service offerings, backed with added capability to produce accurate, high-quality prints and ways to maximise printer utilisation.
Signage is vigorously proving to be an ideal way to capture consumer attention and campaigns are extending to include wide and super-wide applications such as Point Of Purchase (POP) displays, banners and graphics to generate awareness, impact and excitement.
PSPs need to look for vendors that offer the right products to address growth whether, through format types, ink or printing technologies. Vendors also need to be in a position to deliver the most innovative technology and customer driven products possible.
There are vast and varied solutions in this space.  For food and pharmaceutical companies, applications solutions should ideally include solvent inks, aqueous inks and UV curable inks which facilitate a wide range of applications and open new market opportunities to PSPs.
Double sided printing and printing rigid substrates offer a compelling range of speeds and applications including POP and Point Of Sales (POS), which is a necessity for advertising agencies.
Recent technologies in wide and super-wide digital inkjet printing strategy and products support the choices of today’s market and enable PSPs to fashion their own colorful future.
Not only will PSPs enjoy fantastic features and products such as inline laminating and near-line digital die-cutting, they can also achieve profitability as these wide format inkjet solutions are affordable and profitable.  Whatever technology a company decides to use in this space should enable variable data printing for projects which was never possible historically.
The types of projects include signage with local retailers’ details, short-usage promotional work, vehicle and building wraps, short test runs for new product packaging, designs or product trials as well as rigid substrate printing and textile printing for interior decoration and fashion markets.