After four years of constant lows, 2014 saw a trend reversal in which sales of equipment, consumption materials and services in the graphics sector resumed growing. Info and analysis by Argi.

«The last fiscal period ended with +19.7% compared to the previous year, at approximately 185 million euro. Of course it’s still nothing close to the 288 million euro of 2010, but the end of the downturn of the past five years is very important». With these words Argi president Roberto Levi Acobas (Printgraph) commented on the fiscal report at a recent press conference, adding: «Nor should the re-scaling of volumes discourage anyone. Today’s numbers are inevitably lower because we all know that the sector has been re-scaled, but the important thing is that things are moving in the opposite direction, that these values are stabilizing only to resume growth».

Argi performs its annual analysis of the sector on the basis of its members’ sales: concerns representing machinery and systems for the printing sector, as well as consumption products. The latter area is of particular interest also because, while equipment represents a cyclical investment, consumption products actually give a real idea of how much the sector is producing, Argi analysts emphasized.
That said, while overall consumption goods sales in the graphics market was reported as +19.7%, as we stated (chart 1), turnover of machines alone  so (excluding consumables and services) can boast a performance of +24.5% at 154 million (2). Here are a few numbers on offset and digital technologies, the performance of consumables and solutions for pre- and post-printing and converting.
The largest share of sales is accounted for by the offset sector, which totals 124 million units in machines, services and replacement parts (3).
Of these, 52 account for machines alone (4): approximately 190 units for printing and varnish. Moreover, the 2014 data confirm the migration of small formats toward digital printing: sale of 50×70 and 35×50 offsets are less than 10%.

Strong growth for digital printing machines, which report +38.3% compared to 2013 at 61 million euro (5). Of that number, 35 million concern foil machines, 15 machines for reels and 11 million for labels (6).
In the largest segment, that of foil machines, approximately 320 units with speeds up to 100 ppm and 30 faster than that were sold (including those in 50×70 format).
Consumption materials
The Argi research center has studied this area for a relatively short time and therefore only has data going back three years.
The three segments under analysis – plates, rubberized fabrics and chemical products – show a very similar trend, basically one of stability.
In particular, in the last three years sale of plates has gone from 20 to 19.3 million square meters, with a net predominance of thermal ones (including processless). In the last two years, rubberized fabrics and washing additives fell by 3%, while solvents remained stable (7, 8, 9).

Pre-, post-printing and converting
Sales of CTP have resumed in the pre-printing area, with orders for 5.3 million euro: that number is double that of the previous year.
On the other hand, earnings from service, at 15.7 million, has fallen from 2013’s 16.9 (10).
Post-printing machinery has fared the worst, reporting -33% compared to 2013 (11). Still growing, on the other hand, is converting with +2.3% amounting to 25 million euro (12).