The printing industry

Printing companies can be categorized based on the type of customers they serve, the types of jobs they print and the equipment they use. The printing market is often split into 4 segments:

Commercial printing

This is the largest market segment. Commercial printers typically print a wide range of products, from stationery to brochures and magazines. They use a mix of machines, typically including offset and digital presses.

Most commercial printers work for a wide range of customers:

  • Private persons
  • SOHO (small office, home office)
  • SME (small and medium enterprises)
  • Government & large enterprises

Some companies focus on specific markets, such as:

  • Quick printers – printing a variety of small jobs in small run lengths for walk-in customers and local businesses. Copy shops are one type of quick printers.
  • Forms printers
  • Wide format printers – printing posters, banners, point-of-displays and other large jobs on paper, canvas, textiles and other substrates. This can be done using offset, screen printing and increasingly large format digital inkjet presses.
  • Direct mail printers
  • Security printing – The segment of the printing industry that handles printing banknotes, passports, identity documents, driver’s licenses, vouchers, lottery tickets but also packages for luxury or pharmaceutical products.

Packaging printing

Packaging printers have specialized in printing all kinds of packaging such as boxes, cartons, bags, cans, tags and labels. Packaging printers mostly use offset, flexo or digital presses.

Publication printing

These companies focus uniquely on printing publications: newspapers, books, periodicals such as magazines or directories such as the yellow pages. Most printers have specialized in just one type of publication, such as newspapers. They usually target the high volume work in their the market, with general commercial printers also doing their share of books and magazines.


An in-plant is a printing facility that is part of a company or institution. It typically only produces print for its own employer, although sometimes excess capacity is used for commercial printing activities. Typical examples of in-plants are the print center of a university, the print department of a ministry or the print division of banks.

Supporting services

There are additional industry sectors that are closely related to the above sectors. These include

  • Publishers
  • Prepress services
  • Trade binding
3 January 2017

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.