McRae Imaging and Orbus Exhibit and Display Group are giants in this sector, according to White, and both companies are able to take the designer’s vision and make it a reality with the products such as the :Jeti 3324 Aquajet.
“These companies are experts in creating interesting and otherwise unconventional shapes,” said White. “Recently, McRae Imaging created a 60-foot car out of fabric. It was adorned with LED lights and was hung from the ceiling of the convention center during a major car show. It was an amazing sight!”
Fabric printing continues to grow in the application side of what Durst customers are printing on as well. “We see a good percentage of our roll-to-roll machines printing various fabrics as well as having a high-interest level in our new Rhotex direct dye textile printer,” said Christopher Howard, vice president of sales and marketing, US and Canada, Durst Image Technology U.S., LLC, Rochester, NY.
Pushing the Boundaries
From an equipment feature standpoint, Howard said the continued trend that Durst customers have interest in is around productivity of the print platforms as well as automation and efficiency in operation of the equipment.
“In terms of features, we continue to see the industry push the boundaries beyond what we once thought possible in terms of productivity, print quality and color consistency,” reported Knox.
Sustainability in print is also gaining steady ground as the market emerges from the economic downturn and customers begin to receive increased demand from their customers for output with a reduced environmental impact and for technologies that improve the work environment for their employees.
“We can now offer these customers devices that not only meet their needs in regards to the environment, but also provide the needed quality, durability, productivity and price point,” said Knox.
Jeffrey Nelson, product marketing manager, Inkjet Equipment and Software, Graphic Systems Division, Fujifilm North America Corporation, Valhalla, NY, said the biggest trend he sees is the mass migration from solvent to UV solutions. “We also are seeing dramatic increases in press speed, easier and faster material change, and printers that are equally adept at printing both POP as well as billboard work,” he said.
The market is excited about newer systems that utilize UV white ink, as it is popular in many packaging applications as well as many sign and display applications. “White ink is hot,” said Agfa’s White. “In years past, white ink printing was problematic ink because it must be very opaque and offer a high coverage. However, some of the newer UV inkjet systems have been successful in providing the option to print white on substrates that until recently was not practical. This includes everything from leather, cardboard, wood, stone and a host of other non-conventional and dark-colored substrates.”
Matan’s Valach said there is a high demand for PE [printing on polypropylene] media and different types of recyclable textiles. “The PE is used for outdoor signage, it provides a green solution with good quality and light weight,” reported Valach. “There are more and more billboards with easy systems for fast replacement of the signs. Printing on textiles for both outdoor and indoor becomes more popular as the verity of the fabric finishing gives added value to the printout.”
Vehicle graphics continue to be one of the most active and growing sectors of the grand-format market, according to Seiko’s Ryan. This has become more evident as more companies decide to use digital printing for their fleet graphics. “This has been a boon for ad agency and sign designers,” said Ryan, “but it is also forcing designers to come to grips with design considerations for large-vehicle graphics—such as high-resolution photography and vector-based designs.”
Among the more interesting applications seen recently, was from one of HP’s Swedish PSP. “GigantPrint produced more than 10,700 square feet of signage to celebrate the royal wedding of Princess Victoria of Sweden to Daniel Westling,” said Knox. In addition to decorating the entire city of Stockholm, the banners, flags and posters (printed with HP Latex Inks) also fulfilled the couple’s wish to reduce their wedding celebration’s environmental impact. “GigantPrint relied heavily on the wide color gamut and consistency of our printers to successfully meet the exacting color requirements set before them,” he said.