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Print Professionals blogger

Print Confessions

By Graphic Arts Professionals

About Print

Print Confessions is brought to you by Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi. Each week, read the thoughts of a different graphic arts professional who will share a point of view that can only be written anonymously, and then join in the conversation by posting a comment.
 

Five Things You THINK Digital Can’t Do

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In conversations about selling digital printing, many print reps and print buyers seem to focus on what digital can’t do.

That’s (almost) understandable, if your shop doesn’t have digital gear. But even those of us who are deeply involved with digital printing often sell ourselves short. We tend to imagine roadblocks and limitations that simply don’t exist.

That’s a big mistake.

You may not have these capabilities in-house today, but think about this...If you don’t show the full range of digital capabilities to your customers, someone else will!

So here’s a quick list of five incredible things that digital print technologies can do TODAY. 

These are five ways to immediately add value to your customer’s businesses with digital printing and finishing--and win more business for yourself and your customer in the process.

These are five things that you, your boss and your customers may think digital technology can’t do...and five things about which you would all be dead wrong.

• BIG - Digital can’t print big sheets.


Size is NOT a limitation. Digital presses have been getting bigger for more than a decade, and today there are incredible production presses that can print really big.

A new breed of 20x28" digital presses is coming, and soon! But already, Xeikon presses can print sheets up to 20x120+", with stunning quality.

And, while production presses are already big, and growing rapidly, there’s a stunning convergence happening right now.

A few shops with large-format printers are using this gear to produce oversized collateral—things like tri-fold brochures and kit covers. And they’re doing so on some very cool substrates.

Most large-format machines can do far more than first meets the eye. If you don’t believe it, take the operator who runs this gear to lunch sometime.

Do you have such a machine? Are you selling ALL of it’s capabilities?

•  Fast - Digital isn’t fast enough.

Speed is not a limitation. Shops like Shutterfly, District Photo and Rastar have had fleets of digital presses for years. One machine might not be able to keep up, but 10 or 20 of them can produce a mountain of work in a single shift.

Today, digital inkjet presses are fast enough to compete one-on-one with offset presses. Presses from HP, Océ, Screen and others are producing the equivalent of 10,000, 26x40" sheets per hour. Not as fast as the fastest offset presses, but oh so close!

Don’t let your customers imagine that speed is a fatal limitation.

•  Digital presses can't print metallic inks.


Metallic inks are not a limitation. Over the past three years, Mimaki and Roland have introduced wide-format printers that print a absolutely beautiful metallic silver ink. You really must see printed sheets for yourself to believe it.

And it’s not just beautiful; it’s tough and durable too. I’ve had a sticker with pair of Roland sliver lips stuck to the side of my motorcycle helmet for two years. My helmet, with it’s metallic kiss still intact, has saved my fragile dome from several close encounters with the Rocky Mountains. Despite a few granite scratches, it still looks beautiful.

Yup, it’s only silver metallic at the moment, but who cares. Combined with a process ink overprint, the silver metallic becomes almost any metallic color you might imagine. And more!

Don’t let customers think digital can’t d killer metallics

• Spot Coatings - You can't spot UV coat variable-data jobs.

Spot UV coating is not a limitation. Spot coating has traditionally been expensive to setup, difficult to proof and impossible to use on variable-data images and content. But over the past three years, amazing new machines have obliterated these barriers, ofering an inredible range of UV effects.

With a coating thick enough to print a convincing rain drop, and smooth enough to emulate glass, the Scodix machines in particular make possible an incredible range of effects. And they do it with full-variable capabilities, next to no makeready and in perfect registration.

Get your hands on some samples, then go show your customers.

• Diecutting & Scoring - You can’t diecut with a digital machine
.

Diecutting is not a limitation. Finishing cool print jobs can be harder than printing them, and that is especially true for digital work. Simply scoring and perfing can be a challenge in data-driven workflows. But with conventional processes, variable diecutting is all but impossible.

There are a variety of machines available today to help with these challenges.

Lasers cutters are nearly magic when it comes to cutting the right materials with the right device. But some sheets just don’t like lasers, and a laser can’t score most substrates well.

So take a look at digital cutting tables from companies like Esko and Zund. They can cut, score, perf and even kiss-cut the most challenging materials.

Currently, these machines live in the large-format world, so you may not have seen them. But a variety of smaller, more paper-appropriate solutions are appearing.

You migt have to take a road trip with your customer to really get the point across, but both of you should know what this amazing gear can do!

Before you object—“Yeah, Paul, that’s cool and all, but we don’t have one of those machines.”—please understand that MOST of the companies that have this equipment would love to have it runnng more work are are very willing to help you.

And by making the connections, you can learn a little about what makes this gear most valuable to your customers. This can also help by enabling you to generate some business from these capabilities, before you start pushing your shop to make the leap and buy the equipment.

So, if there’s something of interest to you on this list, call the manufacturer and ask to be introduced to a couple of existing customers.

You’ll be glad you had those conversations! And so will your customers!

Oh, and if you know of something that digital really can’t do, please leave a Comment below. I’d love an opportunity to challenge your assertion.
 

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