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Wide-format Output--The Bigger Picture

May 1999
No longer a small niche consideration, large-format printing is elevating POP and outdoor graphics display markets to new heights, allowing commercial printers to break through new profit ceilings.


The bigger, the better. Wider is better. Big is beautiful. If for nothing else, wide-format printing is an attention grabber. And why not? How can any other form of print convey sheer opulence, tender sensitivity, true magnitude and obvious grandeur with the same, well, monumental proportions as do the wide-format wonders driving new trends in outdoor display graphics, point-of-purchase designs and an array of larger-than-life banners, posters and signage?

Why should the commercial printer care about the growth of wide-format print opportunities—or the host of new digital output devices prepared to elevate large-format digital output to bigger and better heights? Scott Champeau, product line manager of Scitex's Wide Format Digital Printing Group, takes a stab at explaining what is so big about wide-format printing for the commercial printer.

"First, wide format offers printers a stronger bond with their clients and suppliers, such as ad agencies, for example. It allows the commercial printer to service them in-house, rather than sending them down the street to an outside servicer," Champeau states.

Second, he continues, wide-format printing provides an alternative revenue stream that fits into a commercial printer's existing workflow. It must be understood that the initial startup cost for wide-format printing can be substantial, but labor—in terms of availability or special skills—probably is already available in-house.

And third, in addition to being a very visible product offering, Champeau says that wide-format printing is the fastest growing market segment in printing today.

Is Champeau correct? If the obvious rise in the number of wide-format digital printing devices—from industry names the likes of CalComp, ColorSpan, Encad, Epson, Raster Graphics, Roland, Hewlett-Packard, Scitex, Tektronix and Xerox, just to name a few—and the attention these devices are getting at industry trade shows and conferences are any indication, the answer seems to point to the affirmative.

Is bigger really more beautiful? Is wider better? One thing is clear: Bigger can be bountiful for the commercial printing operation looking to bring more specialized printing in-house—if the right wide-format technologies are implemented, marketed and executed effectively.

As with all digital printing technologies, the initial investment strategy must rest with the marketing intentions attached to any given leap of faith. In the case of wide-format printing, for instance, is the goal to produce fleet graphics or billboards, banners or posters?


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