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Wide-format Digital Printing : Wide Open to the Opportunities

October 2009
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BEAUTY IS in the eye of the beholder, but so too can be opportunity. Graph Expo 2003 was the first show at which the Graphic Arts Show Co. dedicated a portion of the show floor to digital wide-format printing and designated it the Wide Format Pavilion. While this featured area has been a staple ever since, only a minority of commercial printing operations have pursued the business sector as of yet.

PRINT 09 offered an array of wide-format printing systems and highlighted a number of industry trends that could present opportunities for commercial printers. The size and number of grand-format printers on the show floor was striking, but may have been a response to the larger, international character of the exhibition more so than a reflection of demand in the marketplace.

Even with the momentum behind sustainability in printing having ebbed in other areas, it was embraced by a number of wide-format printing system vendors. Océ North America and Agfa Graphics both put a somewhat whimsical spin on the topic by producing cut-out pieces from heavy-duty, 100 percent recycled paperboard.

Océ produced functional table and chair sets printed with a greenery motif that were set up in its booth and in the special GREENspace area of the show floor focusing on sustainable printing. The company said the project was a proof of concept of new "sustainable display graphics" applications for the Océ Arizona 350 XT UV flatbed printer, which can handle rigid materials up to 98.4x120˝, and the Océ ProCut digital cutting table.

Agfa manufactured its own crowd for its booth by printing and cutting out life-size images of groups of people shot from behind and placing them into stands. It produced a crowd large enough to encircle the entire booth at night and then was able to reposition the panels during the day to create temporary privacy areas for conversations with potential customers.

Agfa's Anapurna Mw (white ink) 63˝ roll-to-roll and rigid media UV printer was shown in North America for the first time, along with the high-speed Anapurna M2 and economically priced Anapurna M4f models.

Meeting the needs of environmentally conscious wide-format customers for durable outdoor and indoor graphics is the market HP is targeting with its HP Latex Ink technology. It held the official launch for the VISCOM show in Germany, but at PRINT 09 HP did offer backroom looks at a new addition to the product family—the HP Designjet L25500 printer. Available in 42˝ and 60˝ models, the rollfed printer is said to offer the "Designjet experience" in terms of its ease of use and replaceable print heads.



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