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Ralf Schlozer

The Rise of Digital B2

Aug 29, 2019 12:22:28 PM

Personally, I always believed in the potential of B2 digital since it become mainstream at drupa 2012 with several vendors showing or previewing products. Of course, new product concepts often take longer in hitting the market than expected, accordingly it took some time for real placements to arrive at customer sites. In our research we already identified a number of benefits these presses bring, and therefore it was no surprise to see installations rise quickly for several years.

For 2018 we feared to see some slowdown, as the printers with investment interest should have already made their calculation by then whether there is a business case for a B2 digital press or not. But it seems there is quite a bit of continuing interest for the devices, and 2018 placements held up reasonably well, despite drupa 2020 looming large. There are ongoing improvements on the existing devices, but there will be a lot more choice in models at drupa 2020, including next generation improvements on existing ones. But it seems that even in the meantime companies interested in B2 still find new opportunities, business cases, or are still only beginning to explore the capabilities of existing devices.

We tend to be focussed on the US and Western Europe, but often overlook the developments in other regions. This is already visible by the term of “Rest of World” – created by a lack of other terms to sum up the regions outside of US and Western Europe. Normally these regions fall behind the US or Western Europe in terms of high-end digital printer placements, even if all grouped together. In digital B2 we do see a shift however with “Rest of World” overtaking the US and WE placements in 2018. The reasons for this upturn are as diverse as the countries in this mix, but it does confirm that there is a lot of print and growth opportunities beyond the established paths. It does take the right products and the right market approach, however, to take advantage of these opportunities.

Digital B2 press placements for document/commercial printing

Soon we will be adding digital B1 presses for document printing as another category to our placement tracking. We already have B1 presses considered in our forecast for document/commercial print, although we like to take a conservative approach in our numbers and expect only a limited number of placements in the next few years. B2 digital will remain much more affordable for the small to medium printing company, and with the increasing choice, including some tried and tested models, we expect sales to increase noticeably.

What struck me only recently is that the revenue generated for the manufacturers of B1 and B2 digital presses from equipment sales, service and supplies will come close to the revenues of continuous feed color inkjet manufacturers by the end of our forecast in 2023. The latter is a segment we are following closely since it become mainstream in 2008. The segment had great success in recent years and contributes about half of all digital color impressions today. However, it seems that in terms of revenue generated, high-end sheet-fed will be catching up quickly.

If you want to know more, please ask us for more insight on digital production print in all size classes and technologies.