Wide-format Output–The Bigger Picture

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?

For the sake of enlightenment, electrostatic devices are ideal for applications ranging from fleet graphics, floor graphics, billboards and other outdoor applications to simple graphics and easy text applications, utilizing substrates such as wet-strength paper. These applications require big color and big images for a variety of indoor and outdoor applications, but absolute print perfection is less critical.

Ink-jet wide-format devices, however, are ideal for delivering photo realistic images that must stand up to the scrutiny of close, indoor observation, such as backlit signs, posters and banners. Substrates set for the ink-jet wide-format market include direct-write poly cloth, direct-write poly canvas, nylon reinforced paper and films.

For further product positioning, ink-jet printers are suitable for jobs of less than 10 prints, allowing for more than a one-day turnaround. Fifteen to 20 prints per day of multiple originals is common for the ink-jet large-format device, which typically will deliver that color critical saturation—ideal for up close and personal viewing.

By comparison, the electrostatic printer is suitable for jobs with more than 10 prints and less than a one- or two-day turnaround. Ideal for electrostatic printers are jobs of 20 to 75 prints per day. These are high productivity machines. Appropriate substrates for electrostatic printing include UV-resistant media for outdoor applications.

“Commercial printers should pay attention to the trends in speed and unattended printing capabilities. These factors will increase productivity, thus, allowing the printer to handle more jobs and increase profits,” advises ColorSpan’s Sandra Crowley, marketing manager.

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