Since the initial introduction of wide-format printers back in the 1990s with the LaserMaster units, technology has certainly come a long way. Not only have speeds and reliability increased, the initial capital expenditure is much lower as well, allowing printers who may have only “kicked the tires” years ago to be serious buyers now.Inks and printhead technology have also evolved in leaps and bounds, providing a veritable smorgasbord of options. From UV ink-based printers—both traditionally cured and LED cured—to eco-/low-/mild-solvent based printers, aqueous, and the new durable aqueous printers, there is a printer to suit the needs of every company.
QP asked key vendors about their experiences in the quick and small commercial market and how printers in this segment are taking advantage of the technology.
1 What interest have you seen from the quick and small commercial printing market segment in wide-format technology?
Randy Anderson, product marketing manager, Mutoh Americas: The response has been great.
Dave Carey, product marketing, North America, Agfa Graphics: In many instances, quick and small commercial printers are doing the offset for their customers and their customers are going someplace else for signage. Wide-format gives them the chance to diversify their offerings, generate additional business from existing clients, and a means to create new and profitable revenue streams. Wide-format is a fast and efficient way for quick and small commercial printers to expand share of wallet with existing customers, differentiate themselves, and generate new revenue streams.
Reed Hecht, product manager, professional imaging, Epson America Inc.: Epson is seeing increasing interest in many areas, especially with respect to quick printers who own small presses. The Epson Stylus Pro 7900 computer-to-plate system is not only enabling businesses to reduce costs associated with making plates, it’s allowing them to be more versatile because the same device can be used to create proofs, banners, posters, and photographs.
David Murphy, director of marketing, Americas, HP Graphic Solutions Business: HP has seen strong interest in large-format printing technologies from the quick and small commercial printing segment. Customers are finding tremendous growth opportunities by becoming a one stop shop for their clients. With versatile large-format technologies, these customers can deliver their clients’ requests in-house, ensuring quick delivery with higher margins and, ultimately, happier customers.
Sonny Odom, vice president of sales, KIP Americas: KIP has seen a significant increase in wide-format equipment purchases by the quick and commercial printers since the introduction of our touchscreen technology five years ago. The simplicity of the product eliminated the need for key operators and allowed printing companies to expand their product offering into wide-format previously controlled by the reprographic community.
Robert Ozankan, senior product manager, Roland DGA Corp.: Commercial printing shops are increasingly entering the wide-format printing market to offer applications such as posters, banners, and signs. Based on market surveys, wide-format printing has been a high interest category for small commercial printers. With the economy improving, it is a good time for them to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Randy Paar, display graphics product marketing manager, Océ North America: It has been minimal, which I suspect is due to several factors: 1) little to no awareness of the technologies that exist, 2) a perception that it is too expensive to get into, 3) and the limited space available to install large equipment. To many of them, wide-format printing is an entirely new business venture.
Steve Urmano, marketing director, Mimaki USA: Demand for quick printers has been at the very early market stages.