The global value of flexographic printing will rise from $167.7 billion in 2020 to $181.1 billion in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.6% at constant prices, according to the latest exclusive research from Smithers. Data from the market report The Future of Flexographic Printing to 2025 shows this is equivalent to a rise in annual flexo output volumes from 6.73 trillion A4 prints to 7.45 trillion across 2020-2025.
The majority of extra demand will come from the dynamic packaging print sector, where new automation and hybrid press lines are giving flexo print service providers (PSPs) greater flexibility and the option to exploit higher-value print applications.
The global Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 will have an impact on growth due to disruptions in the supply chain and consumer purchasing. This will be compounded changes in purchasing behaviour in the short term. The predominance of packaging work means the flexo segment will rebound from the downturn caused by the pandemic faster than any other analogue process, as graphics and publication print see more severe drops in order volumes.
As the global economy stabilises, the greatest increase in demand for flexo print will come from Asia and Eastern Europe. New flexo press sales are projected to increase at 0.4%, to a value of $1.62 billion and a total volume of 1,362 units in 2025; in addition to thriving second-hand, refurbishment, and press enhancement markets.
Smithers’ exclusive market analysis and expert survey identifies the following key drivers that will shape the flexo print market over the next five years. Corrugated board will remain the largest value segment, but the quickest growing applications are in labels and folding carton print. For corrugated substrates, there will be an increase in lower run rates and shelf-ready packaging work. Much of this will be high colour work, with three or more colours, offering a higher returns for PSPs. There will be an increase in wide-web installations driven by the continued growth in corrugated and carton production. This will prompt extra sales of sheetfed folder gluers to handle the finishing requirements
Flexo will remain the most cost-effective print process for mid- to long-runs, but continued developments in digital (inkjet and electrophotography) printing will increase market pressures on flexo, to address changing consumer demand. To respond to this – especially for more short run work – there will be a drive to increase automation of flexographic process, incremental improvements in computer to plate (CtP) processing, better on-press colour checking and imaging, and use of digital workflow tools
Flexo manufacturers will continue to introduce hybrid presses. Typically the result of a collaboration with a digital print technology company these allow the benefits digital processes, like variable data printing, to be combined with the speed of flexo on a single platform. Enhancement in flexo plate and sleeve technology to improve image reproduction, and minimise press room time taken on cleaning and make-ready. The arrival of more advanced finishing equipment to allow greater print embellishment and sophisticate design effects. The adoption of more sustainable printing solutions, led by water-based ink sets, and LED UV curing.
These trends are analysed in depth in the Smithers report – The Future of Flexographic Printing to 2025 [https://www.smithers.com/en-gb/services/market-reports/printing/the-future-of-flexographic-printing-to-2025] – and quantified and qualified in a data set covering all major end-use applications, national and regional markets. This is supported by complementary data tracking current and future demand for flexo equipment, inks, and plates and sleeves.
This represents an essential business strategy tool for any flexo OEM, press operator, or consumable supplier trying to navigate an increasingly unsure commercial market place. To further aid this all purchases of the report include a copy of Smithers’ new The Impact Of Covid 19 on the Printing Industry, giving exclusive market forecast scenarios for how the industry will be impacted by, and recover from, the coronavirus pandemic.