Is Big Data going to mature the Large Format Printing industry?

Some people say that signs of a maturing industry are slowing down of disruptive innovations and new entrants, consolidation of leading competitors, market shares solidifying and only gradually changing and customer needs or ideas no longer seem to be evolving.

Some of these things we actually see happening, so we could consider that the Large Format Printing market has matured.

But have we?

In my opinion no, as one crucial item is almost always missing in those definitions and lists.

At some point, industries collectively start to look for ways to make things better, easier, more effective etc. In other words, standardization.

Examples are the ICC (International Color Consortium) and the Ghent Workgroup working on several PDF standards like the Sign & Display standard which currently is in Beta.


In general you still see manufacturers are trying to distinguish themselves and doing things on an individual level. If you look at product evolution and innovation, this is healthy and is where the difference should be made. In my opinion, some bad examples are the many different certification programs and online ICC-profile databases. 

Many printer- and media manufacturers had (and still have) their own ICC-profile repositories on their websites. Individual initiatives like ColorBase came to life trying to consolidate all this information in one place. After that, HP started their own database called Media Solutions Locator combined with a multi-tier certification program and soon EPSON came up with their own version. (Expensive) data spread all over the place and opportunities lost for combined collection of industry data.

But isn’t it time for one language that describes all media, categories and properties? And not just for the media itself, but also for example testing, certification and post-processing settings and everything else you can think of? One, global database where all this information is stored, one place where data is collected.

An initiative like that would allow all media manufacturers to talk and communicate in a standardized way with their CRM, ERP and what-ever tools they are using. A standardized way for them to communicate with their warehouses and distributors.

But is that where it should stop?


Media that talks to printers that talks to RIP’s that talks to post processing equipment. Could RFID or NFC play a crucial role here? The first steps towards such a solution I’m sure has already being taken as the ontology already exists. It’s just a matter of time before we should see the first initiatives.

  • Media communicating with the printer, automatically recognizing the media loaded and setting the right parameters like thickness
  • When the printer is ready, the remaining amount of media is communicated back to and stored in the roll
  • The RIP getting feedback from the printer and automatically synchronizing the correct ICC and settings into the RIP from an online database
  • Media communicating with the cutter, laminator, laser etc. setting the right parameters like pressure, speed, temperature etc.
  • Etc.

Is Big Data the future of our industry?

Please leave your thoughts and comments in the section below.