The Desktop Card Printer Market Is Stabilizing, Supported by Retransfer Migration

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By Sam Gazeley | 2Q 2024 | IN-7285

There can be no doubt that the desktop printer market struggled to maintain momentum through 2023. With inventory overstocking impacting this market segment earlier, revenue faltered through 2023. Now, in 2024, the desktop card printer market is set for a recovery, driven by a growing presence of retransfer and demand returning in the wake of depleted inventories.

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How Has the Desktop Card Printer Market Fared?


The trajectory of the desktop printer market in 2024 indicates a notable resurgence, driven by increasing demand for retransfer printing. The rising popularity of retransfer printers and associated consumables is buoyed by advancements in card technologies and materials, such as sustainable materials and metal payment cards.

Indeed, as it relates to payment cards, instant issuance and flat cards are continuing to grow, predominantly driven by the fintech sector and increasingly embraced by traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Instant issuance of flat cards is becoming seamlessly integrated with Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), offering customers a rapid option for card replacement at their convenience, with Entrust and NCR collaborating to implement this service in the Middle East.

The year 2023 was marked by notable inflationary pressures across the supply chain related to components, logistics, and raw materials. Average Selling Prices (ASPs), notably for crucial components such as semiconductors, continued to affect the market through 2023, until the gradual decline that is set to begin in 2024. To future-proof against coming uncertainties and ensure customer contracts are satisfied, some market players opted to stockpile inventories. This trend extends beyond the desktop printer market, impacting various printing and smart card markets. ABI Research expects this to impact demand in the first and second quarters of 2024.

Market vendors are pushing for a reduction in ASPs for Identity (ID) card printers, driven by the extensive need for ID cards in the healthcare, banking, education, and government sectors. Nevertheless, such efforts to reduce prices have, through 2023, been hindered by upward pricing pressures resulting from supply chain disruptions and global economic challenges.

Desktop Card Printing from an End-Market Perspective


As it pertains to overall revenue from desktop card printers, the financial sector will see the most rapid growth, fueled by the expansion of next-generation payment card materials and technologies, which will drive a robust demand for retransfer capabilities. Shifting strategies from financial institutions, including personalization developments and the accelerated adoption of flat cards, are also driving the market in this space. ABI Research anticipates that revenue for desktop printer hardware within the financial sector will increase by 8.6% from 2023 to 2028 and exceed US$105 million by 2028.

The government sector represents the second fastest growing market segment in desktop card printer revenue, which is finding success from the growing demand for enhanced credential security, necessitating ongoing advancements in printing technologies. Revenue within the government segment is projected to increase from US$34 million in 2023 to US$51 million in 2028, achieving a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.4%.

The education market has focused on card durability and ensuring that correct access levels for staff/students are maintained, serving as a driver for new desktop printing technologies within this market segment. Revenue from desktop card printers in the education sector are projected to increase from US$32 million in 2023 to US$46 million in 2028, reflecting a CAGR of 7.6% during the same period.

Retransfer Is on the Rise


Retransfer printers excel in personalizing cards made from alternative materials such as Polycarbonate (PC), Polycarbonate Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), and sustainable card materials, including Polylactic Acid (PLA), among others. As demand for these next-generation card types increases over the forecast period, retransfer printing is poised to become the preferred method. This shifting trend is underpinned by the card durability of retransfer technology compared to Direct-to-Card (D2C), as well as its ability to deliver high-quality over-edge printing capabilities, supporting smart card end markets that are seeking to extend card expirations.

ABI Research has identified a considerable increase in the demand for retransfer printers and consumables within the market, mirroring the expansion of next-generation card technologies and materials, including sustainable and metal payment cards. Consequently, many desktop printer ecosystem vendors have introduced new retransfer offerings to increase their share of this burgeoning market segment:

  • Evolis launched its new Agilia retransfer card printer in November 2023, with the express intention of securing a greater market share in the growing retransfer market opportunity.
  • DASCOM launched its next-generation retransfer printer, the DASCOM DC-8600, as part of its exhibit at TRUSTECH 2023.
  • In December 2022, IDP Corp. launched its new retransfer printer, SMART-81, in anticipation of future demand.

Given that the desktop card printer market has suffered through 2023, vendors active in this space will be looking to increase revenue through 2024 and capitalize on market trends and favored printing technologies. Those that offer retransfer capabilities in their offerings will have the opportunity to expand their coverage into a variety of ID-1 smart card end markets, as well as future-proof their prospects in the market, as smart card markets, such as payments, continue to move into next-generation payment card technologies and materials. ABI Research believes that the pivot toward eco-friendly materials will be seen across a range of verticals, such as education; however, this is not expected to take place in the short term for the government market, given the complete focus on credential security regulated at the national level. ABI Research recommends that vendors active in the desktop printing space continue to increase product development toward retransfer as a printing technology, and those that have found success in markets such as payment cards should consider targeting adjacent markets such as education.


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