Reamer: The newer aqueous technologies have allowed for improvements in speed, quality and reductions in cost per print, but where Canon has had additional breakthroughs is with the software that allows for easy printing out of Microsoft applications with the Print Plug-in for Microsoft Office. Users are comfortable printing letter- and tabloid-size documents out of PowerPoint, Excel and Word and can now easily enlarge those documents to large format and banner sizes. Canon has also introduced the optional PosterArtist poster creation software, which provides users with 200 templates and over 1,000 clip-art images, so creating a poster for retail, celebrations, information graphics and much more is simple for even those who are not graphic artists.
Kaufman: For Epson, there are several newer technologies that have had a significant impact on the printing industry. Epson’s UltraChrome HDR White aqueous ink, featured on the Epson Stylus Pro WT7900, offers a new range of choices for packaging designers to create comps and mockups for proofing in the flexo and gravure print markets. In addition, faster engines with improved print head and color-screening technologies, offered in Epson’s latest Epson Stylus Pro series printers, expand the output and productivity capabilities of print providers.
DuPaul: HP has made a number of significant advances to the HP Designjet portfolio this year, including the recent launch of the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP, the industry’s first web-ready large-format printer with scan, print and copy functionality, the HP Designjet T7100 Printer, a true workhorse that is less expensive to acquire and operate than competing technologies, and the HP Designjet Z6200 Photo Printer with HP Vivid Photo Inks, which delivers high-quality output and the highest speeds of large-format printers in its price class. To support a collaborative workflow between these HP Designjet printers, HP also introduced HP ePrint & Share, a free online platform available to all Designjet users that allows them to quickly print and access plans from the road, share files with remote project teams and seamlessly collaborate with partners.
HP Latex Printing Technologies, such as the HP Designjet L25500 Printer series, also represent an entirely new option for water-based, large-format printing with durability and versatility that meet or exceed eco-solvent and solvent technologies. Since the HP Designjet L25500 Printer was launched at the end of 2009, we have seen outstanding market acceptance for the devices from customers using HP Latex inks to produce everything from vehicle graphics and signage applications to interior décor and custom-printed shoes. In addition to application versatility, HP Latex Inks are compatible with numerous HP media options, including several recyclable substrates, and have been tested and profiled for use with more than 50 vendors and 300 media solutions through the HP Latex Solutions Media Program.
Phipps: We are very excited about the new aqueous inks for the textile markets. These are emerging markets in North America and other parts of the world. The water-based dye sublimation and pigment inks used to create soft signage, home décor, sportswear and other industrial applications are very impressive. These inks, combined with the latest print heads we are using in our new Mutoh ValueJet TD 64" and 100" printers, are allowing us to get quality output the industry has never seen before from a digital printer.
3) How are print providers benefiting from these technological breakthroughs?
Reamer: Print providers can offer their customers more large-format output quicker than they could years ago. They do not need a graphic specialist on board with the new software tools discussed earlier. Print providers can simply display a book of templates on the counter and let customers realize all the applications in which they can benefit from posters.
Kaufman: Consolidation! One print engine can now do the work of multiple older generation models. The ability to produce more with increased ease of use and greater flexibility in output types (e.g. white ink on clear and metallic substrates) adds another level of new opportunities.
DuPaul: With these latest developments, print service providers are able to expand into services that they may not have offered in the past, allowing them to grow their business with existing customers and capture new opportunities. For example, a print provider that has only offered line drawings can now offer large-format photo printing, graphics, vehicle wraps, signage and fine-art printing with a singular aqueous device.