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Trade Comment

What are the key sectors printers should target?

The wide-format market is opening up many new avenues of growth. Jo Golding asks: "What are the key sectors that printers should target and how can your technology help?”

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Leon Watson, general manager, Spandex UK

Lucrative world

In the ever-demanding sign and graphics industry, textile printing is one of the fastest growing areas of the market, and offers huge opportunities for print-service-providers.

The assumption that there is a high price point for entry into this market, due to the requirements of purchasing expensive super wide-format printers, is something of the past.

With the introduction of seven new textile materials to our Image Perfect range, suitable for printing on eco-solvent, solvent, UV, and latex printers, the textile world is now accessible to existing wide-format print owners. The new range allows the user the ability to produce numerous additional applications such as wall coverings, display frames, umbrellas, bean bags, and home décor to serve a wider range of clients.

UV flatbed printing is an area of the super wide-format market that is expanding

UV flatbed printing is an area of the super wide-format market that is expanding. At Spandex, we are exclusive distributors of the coveted Swiss Q Print UV LED flatbed printers, offering the complete range of their highly advanced products, the 2.5m Oryx LED, 2.5m Impala LED, as well as their 3.2m Nyala LED.

For print-service-providers that are looking at expanding their print capabilities, the Swiss Q Print printers are fantastic additions. They offer a variety of printing options on a wide range of rigid substrates as well as a roll media option producing some outstanding quality prints. The featured new LED lamps mean the printers are always ready to go, without needing a warm-up or cool-down period. The machines also allow the user to produce fast—up to 206sq m/h—and quality designs with nine freely configurable colour channels, as well as producing instantly cured prints.

Whatever your needs, all three Swiss Q Print printers deliver, and open your business up to a new and lucrative world.

Solvent the solution

Tim Stockley, director, Colourbyte

We have been Epson dealers for 20 years and have a fully equipped showroom that allows us to demonstrate the latest printer and RIP technologies, together with our diverse range of media to potential customers looking for inspirational ways to expand their business.

One machine that is selling particularly well at present is the Epson SC-S80600 eco-solvent printer. This represents a great opportunity for print-service-providers that are currently using water-based inks at a cost of £160 for 700ml to upgrade to the latest eco-solvent ink that costs £84 for 700ml.

Working off an average of one ink set per month, users can save more than £8,000 per year, therefore covering the cost of a new S80600 in just two years.

One machine that is selling particularly well at present is the Epson SC-S80600 eco-solvent printer

The Epson SC-S80600 can print onto a wide selection of media due to low operating temperatures, in comparison with latex printers. It also has a wide colour gamut with super bright red and orange ink, while users can opt to push the boundaries further still by mixing the metallic ink with other colours for stunning, metallised visual effects.

While some may perceive solvent print as being low resolution and low quality, we have customers that use our glossy backlit film for high end photographic advertising such as cosmetic work, as well as our quality photo papers for solvent ink to produce high end photographic exhibition work.

Aside from this, we have seen more people diversify into the dye-sublimation market, where the process of sublimating directly onto glossy white aluminium panels is growing in popularity. As well as producing text-based aluminium signs, the dye-sublimation process easily enables stunning full colour graphics to be produced making the sign far more engaging and visually appealing.

Using Epson’s purpose-built F6200 dye sublimation printer with ink costing just £50 for one litre, together with a heat press, the cost of investing in a dye-sublimation system is relatively low when compared to the perceived value of the items the system produces.

Creating new markets

Phil McMullin, sales manager, Epson UK

There has never been a better time to be creative in business than right now. If you have a sign-making company that is serving existing customers well, it is time to ask yourself if you could offer existing customers more or serve other sectors in parallel using a similar business model. Diversification unlocks the door to growth.

Epson was originally known as a supplier of proofing in graphic arts, but today it offers wide-format solutions for sign and display, textiles, décor, promotional material, forms, photography and backlit applications, technical drawings, or even car wraps. It has harnessed its understanding of print head technology and inks as well as hardware and software to allow printers to produce top quality print onto an ever-broadening range of substrates.

Wide-format technology from Epson has a low cost of entry and is easy to use

Wide-format technology from Epson has a low cost of entry and is easy to use with plenty of artificial intelligence and colour control built in. What someone looking to diversify must evaluate is what the end- user is looking for, which can be as diverse as a cost-effective solution for short-run or bespoke print through to on-demand and eye-catching print, which can be topical and quickly and easily replaced or even print that can be produced on unusual substrates.

Those that choose to offer added value print services and to act as consultants to their customers can become a trusted partner, keeper of the brand, and an irreplaceable adjunct to their firm. Customers may not know that you could also print their workwear, handle their vehicle livery or supply personalised mugs, fobs, or photo frames as gifts or giveaways. Those companies that proactively go out to create new markets will be the winners, those who remain blinkered and do only what they have always done may get left behind.

Redefining ‘print’

Ken Hanulec, vice-president of marketing, inkjet solutions, EFI

Diversification was a significant part of EFI’s messaging in our recent Connect conference. Print professionals have an unprecedented opportunity to participate in a trend that is really redefining ‘printing’. Now, there is an emerging range of industrial applications beyond the traditional signage and graphics space for wide-format print.

We brought thermoformable UV inkjet to market with our Vutek GS-TF series and H1625-SD printers and opened the door to many new and different applications. We now have customers who are able to see applications as varied as cartop carriers, hunting blinds, and ATV fenders, for example in addition to thermoformed display signage.

Print professionals have an unprecedented opportunity to participate in a trend that is really redefining ‘printing’

Textile is the other big diversification opportunity for sign-makers. Many of our customers have seen surging demand for soft signage and a number of them are adding EFI Vutek Fabrivu and EFI Reggiani fabric printers to deliver high-quality, reusable soft signage to meet that demand. With that capability comes an even wider range of industrial textile décor and apparel applications.

Décor and wall coverings can be printed on a range of materials using our Vutek LED hybrid and roll-to-roll printers. In general, digital print allows for more customised, high-quality applications as opposed to the standard, mass-produced wallcoverings typically sold and used.

There are many companies adopting smaller-run corrugated production using our hybrid flatbed/roll Vutek LX3 LED and Vutek Vutek Pro products. These are versatile inkjet presses that can print the full range of signage and graphics applications, but are available with material edge guides and material handling automation systems that help ensure very high-quality throughput on corrugated at rated press speeds.

Over time, there will be an ever-broadening definition of ‘print’ for our customers to profit from. There are even industrial applications with wood, concrete, and other building materials using EFI’s Cubik single-pass industrial printer. EFI customers who already have a strong understanding of how to implement high-end inkjet production workflows will have an advantage in capturing the growth these new opportunities present.


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