The other advance that makes getting into the market easier is the growing number of superwide-format printers that convert easily from roll-to-roll printing to flatbed printers that can print directly on rigid substrates. This eliminates the need to mount and laminate material after printing. Users are printing on just about everything you can imagine, and most printers will take materials up to 2? thick. Glass, plastic, backlit materials, wood, even stone. The only limit is your imagination.
One very imaginative example was produced using Gandinnovations’ Jeti printer for a real estate firm in Dubai. Ad-Air, a London-based company, has developed a system for placing mega-format digital graphics on privately owned land near flight paths of high-volume airports worldwide. The Dubai ad made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest ad.
Another great example was produced by Austin Graphics in Austin, TX. Using its EFI VUTEk QS2000, the firm produced 26 tempered glass panels, 15 mirrored panels and several PETG panels that were used in a Samsung semiconductor facility recently constructed in Austin.
“Samsung wanted to use printed glass and mirrors in its locker room and smock room, Level 3 and Level 4 clean rooms, respectively, to eliminate dust, static and contaminants, as well as to provide an attractive employee environment,” explains David Pesnell, owner of Austin Graphics. Panels were 118? tall and ranged from 52-60? wide; glass panels weighed up to 300 lbs. each. With the QS2000 in flatbed mode, Pesnell was able to print directly on the panels.
Superwide-format is also increasingly eating into volumes that were previously produced using analog screen printing. VUTEk showed its new DS Series at SGIA. This UV printer is expected to be available in 2009, and prints at a blinding 6,000 square feet per minute at resolutions up to 1,200 dpi with stochastic screening. With its large refillable ink reservoirs and optional material handling system, this printer can run in a virtually lights-out mode for up to eight hours.