Wide-format Output--The Bigger Picture
Epson's Stylus Pro 9000 wide-format printing solution, designed to handle paper up to 44˝ wide on media as thick as 1.5mm cardboard, lists at under $8,000. The HP DesignJet 2500CP lists at more than $11,000. The Xerox ColorgrafX Xpress 54 lists at more than $49,000. DisplayMaker Express by ColorSpan lists at more than $49,900. Alpha Meric's Spectrum 5248-PR, a 51˝ media-width printer with 300 dpi maximum color resolution and Ethernet 10BaseT interface power, lists at more than $70,000.
The Scitex Idanit-162Ad lists at more than $300,000. The Idanit, by the way, can print at super-turbo speeds of 2,650 square feet per hour.
When shopping for a wide-format output device, research maximum media width capabilities, media format flexibility, print method (thermal or piezoelectric), ink capacity (how regularly the device requires operator attention during long print runs), maximum color resolution, installed RAM, PostScript power and the power of the device's network interface.
Q&A: Xerox's Barry Lathan
Barry Lathan, president and CEO of Xerox ColorgrafX Systems, discusses wide-format market trends, the requirements for high productivity in large-format work and the strong pulse of the electrostatic alternative.
PI: What is happening in the large-format printing market? What's the direction of this market?
Lathan: We've seen an incredible amount of growth and several trends emerge over the past year. Foremost, large format is no longer a niche market segment reserved for specialty shops. Rather, it is quickly becoming a mainstream application, offering new business opportunities for virtually all members of the graphic arts industry. We're seeing print providers in the for-profit, as well as the corporate environment, embrace the technology and integrate it with their existing digital color offerings.
But this popularity has brought increased competition, which is especially fierce in the low end of the market. Here, the proliferation of low-cost thermal ink-jets has caused large format to move from a specialty to a commodity service. As a result, print-for-pay shops are now facing smaller profit margins. In order to sustain profitability and continue to grow their businesses, print providers must seek ways to differentiate themselves while meeting the increasing large-format demands of customers. This is where 'high production' printing comes in.