GRAPH EXPO & CONVERTING EXPO 02 -- Large-format Opportuniti
Finding the Answer
For Progress Printing, large-format ink-jet has been part of the answer. In fact, the company is rolling out a new subsidiary to offer a wide variety of digital output. Its location in the heart of a popular travel and convention region also made for a dynamic large-format ink-jet market. Once, companies exhibiting at conventions in the area would have to print and ship their display materials. Now, Progress Printing tells them, "Just send us your PDF and we'll have it ready for you when you arrive."
Crall also notes that many printers have already invested in the equipment they need, but aren't using it. "A lot of commercial printers have this equipment, but because it's not their bread and butter, it's underutilized," he says. "Many are buying large-format ink-jet devices to do proofing, but you're going to need proofing less and less. You don't want to pay for only occasional use of a machine."
Merrick Industries realized the market potential of digital output and launched its Digital Print Impressions subsidiary about six years ago, reveals Vice President and General Manager Denise Eberhard. The company has stressed digital document production so far, but large-format output is definitely on the agenda. "We looked at large-format ink-jets at PRINT 01 and were very impressed," Eberhard says.
One key to Digital Print Impressions' success, she adds, is that "we run our shop like a print shop, not a copy shop. Everybody who works here has a commercial printing background." Experience with digital workflows is another plus, according to Eberhard. "The equipment doesn't scare us off at all."
In fact, for the digitally savvy printer, changing a company's mindset may be a bigger challenge than incorporating the new technology. The vital distinction printers must appreciate, Williams stresses, is that large-format ink-jets don't compete in the familiar color document market. "That market," she says, "is hotly contested, but wide-format color graphics is a whole new playing field.