The VUTEk QS printer continues to provide the best value in the market, according to Mike Wozny, product manager, EFI-VUTEk. “It provides high productivity, a high definition print, and a wide application range at a reasonable price,” he said. “This value has resulted in it being our bestselling flatbed printer in the last three years.”
The Centre for Life Museum in New Castle, UK, recently used the QS2000 printer to create a jungle scene. The structure was made of wood, with spaces left open for the graphics. The images of the animals were printed on opal acrylic and some were illuminated. The leaves of the tree were printed on Foamex. All of the pieces were then fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
From a technology perspective, Wozny said the most obvious change continues to be the transition to UV, pointing out that the number of UV printers is now about equal to that of solvent printers. “VUTEk has been selling more UV than solvent for more than 18 months now,” he reported.
While the move to UV would seem to indicate a continued push toward going green, Wozny doesn’t feel sustainability issues have greatly affected the market. “PFP providers are continuing to look for ways to lower their carbon footprint,” he admitted. “Most folks are evaluating and working with recyclable materials and others are extending it to defining and lowering their footprint of their entire production facility, but the overall market impact has been minimal.”
Wozny is confident that the market will continue to grow. “Growth is driven from more than one growth driver, i.e. out-of-home advertising, and the conversion from analog to digital,” he explained. “This growth driver diversification will result in continued market growth.”
The Jeti 3150 X-2 from Gandinnovations is the company’s most popular printer because of the speed it produces. “Shops all have their needs—whether it be a high-production printer or a high-quality printer—and the Jeti 3150 X-2 brings both of those qualities to its owner,” said Cory Bock, Gandi Group.
Bock said a unique use of the printer has been some ceiling tiles and light fixtures. “Our customers have had a lot of success with this,” he noted. “Advertisers are always seeking new means of advertising and pretty soon, we’ll all be seeing a lot more ceiling graphics.”
The poor economy has hurt the industry, according to Bock, but he is quick to point out that it is merely a bump in the road. “Shop owners have been tightening their belts, which is a good thing,” he said. “They have taken more time to make sure their decisions are profitable. Print shops know that a wrong and costly decision could have long-lasting effects on their business and this has in turn slowed down the industry. The key word there is slowed...just slowed.”
HP offers a full range of digital solutions designed to help print service providers (PSPs) profitably grow their businesses. The company’s best-selling printers include the HP Scitex FB6700 and the HP Scitex TJ8550. “The UV printer opens new opportunities for almost any printing shop—screen, digital, and offset—delivering maximum ROI in as little as eight months and helping drive business growth,” said Don Knox, US director of sales, large format printing, HP Graphics Solutions Business. A newer addition to the portfolio, the HP Designjet L65500 Printer, is already proving to be a top seller, according to Knox. “This allows PSPs to increase their print capacity and grow their business, while reducing the impact of their printing on the environment,” he explained.
As for the future, HP expects three major forces to drive growth. The first, according to Knox, is the conversion of high-quality, long run applications to digital printing, such as POP advertising, increasing the impact of retail environments. “Secondly, there is a substrate substitution from PVC-based materials to lighter, easy-to-handle polyester based materials,” said Know. “Last, digital signage will finally break the barrier of what is creatively possible (new space, new format, and new communication channels).”