Anderson: By offering large-format services they are able to provide a more complete service to keep the customers in-house and expand their business. They can effectively offer products to completely rebrand a shop—everything from business cards to car wraps, wallpaper to counter wraps, floor graphics to window graphics, and virtually everything in between. Most add a cutter to offer stickers as well.
Carey: Small commercial printers are using this kind of technology predominately for signs and display materials (such as POP) as a means of supporting their customers with multimedia campaigns. Signage is a key component to any campaign and provides an added and profitable revenue stream.
Hecht: Most of the businesses purchasing printers are doing so to expand and enhance services for their customers, increase productivity, and reduce internal operating costs. These products are being used to produce flyers, brochures, posters, photos, and more on an increasingly broad range of media. Many businesses even use the same device to create the actual proofs of those items in addition to creating banners, posters, and other accompanying marketing materials.
Murphy: With in-house large-format printing technologies, printing companies can offer customers a full range of flexible and rigid display products. With this broad product offering, printers can cost effectively handle not only one-off projects from walk-in consumers, but also full marketing campaigns. Additionally, quick printers are taking advantage of products which are making niche printing techniques possible for this segment, such as the use of white ink, which was previously available only to screen printers or grand-format devices.
Odom: Small businesses have a need for wide-format printing. Many of these companies depend on the quick/commercial printer for a variety of other document solutions. Wide-format provides the customer with a convenience and another reason to visit the print shop, and keeps the customer from visiting a competitive location.
Ozankan: To get started in this market, many businesses focus on indoor applications first and then transition to
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outdoor applications. With an integrated printer/cutter they can also expand their capacity for short-run labels and decals. The production of outdoor durable graphics presents opportunities for these shops to serve local businesses, organizations, and event planners in addition to corporate customers.
Urmano: Some quick printers are working with existing sign shops to fill demand until they can see a real business to justify purchase of a printer. Most inquiries are to expand into outdoor graphics or print-cut vinyl labels.
3 What technology developments have made wide-format technology more accessible to this market?
Anderson: Ink technology that doesn’t require additional ventilation. Single head, high output machines with fewer parts requiring minimal maintenance. RIPs that produce higher quality, faster RIP times with variable data capability, and more intuitive interfaces. And, of course, computer technology that makes this all faster and easier.
Carey: Four advancements have made wide-format technology more accessible to the small commercial print market: speed, variety of media, quality, and cost of print. Today, printing speeds dwarf the speeds of printing from just a few years ago. We can print on a wide variety of media for which laminating is not necessary. Today, the quality is outstanding, rivaling offset work due to the ongoing advancements in technology. Additionally, the total cost to print is reduced significantly, also due to the myriad of technological advancements.
Hecht: In previous years, many businesses purchased several different wide-format printers for a variety of specific applications. But today, a single printer can be used to create virtually everything from proofs to banners, to signs, to photographs.
Murphy: I think that the maturation of high quality, reliable printing technologies has allowed manufacturers to reduce costs and make these devices more accessible. Manufacturers have also increased their focus on making low volume, wide-format technologies that are easy to use and that incorporate easily into the print shop’s existing workflow.