Ryan states, “Neon inks cost about twice as much as regular inks so the cost structure is higher. The average running cost is .15-.40 per square foot. Although the cost is higher, it’s easier to sell in this market because there’s hardly any competition. They can sell [products] for a higher price. The profit potential is there, but the customers are harder to find.”
Enhancing the Menu
Part of the challenge of adding specialty inks to a PSP’s menu is knowing when and how to use them effectively. Epson reports that specialty inks are especially popular with commercial sign shops and commercial proofing companies.
“Epson has many types of specialty inks available,” Hecht says. “The SureColor S-Series solvent printers are the newer specialty ink products available for our sign, banner, and fine art customers. A few years ago we introduced the Epson Stylus Pro WT7900 with the industry’s first aqueous-based White ink. Designed specifically for proofing flexographic and gravure print jobs that require the color white, the Epson Stylus Pro WT7900 leverages Epson UltraChrome HDR White ink, an Organic Hollow Resin Particle technology which forces light to randomly scatter, producing the illusion of seeing the color white.”
Greeves says, “Color-Logic specializes in creating the software files necessary for successfully printing metallic inks or using white ink on a reflective or clear substrate. When the Color-Logic design software is used, designers can create the necessary underpinning white ink masks with just one click of the mouse. This process saves literally hours on every job. Color-Logic also enables print service providers to create their own color charts, thus enabling the designer to utilize color guides that were printed by the exact process and substrate that will be used on the final job.”
With new products comes the opportunity to open doors with new clients or to boost the sales potential with existing customers. Our experts discuss how specialty inks can be utilized to enhance production and sales.
Ryan believes that while the market for specialty inks is smaller and more specialized, it gives PSPs the opportunity to expand their client base.
Ryan states, “Neon inks allow you to expand your offerings and your portfolio. Casinos and night clubs are the top markets. In Southern California we also have a lot of amusement parks that use a lot of neon and black light graphics. Of course, these aren’t available everywhere, but there are markets. For example, bowling centers can incorporate local sponsorship into their midnight bowling advertising. The local sign shop will be able to do that.”
Ryan adds, “Most sign shops haven’t thought about that, and clearly we are giving them some direction to call on clients that they normally wouldn’t call on for that type of product.”
Hecht says, “Where customers previously had to embellish prints manually, using the Metallic Silver they can do this additional time-consuming step automatically on the printer, and provide artists unique ways to take fine art to the next level. And with our high-density White ink technology, customers can print on clear materials for signage applications where they may not have been able to before.”
With changes in production, it stands to reason that using specialty inks also changes the ways in which items are printed. Hecht clarifies:
“Some specialty inks are still new to the market so it may take production shops time to work these new technologies into their standard workflow. Overall, the printing process won’t change drastically other than shops getting acclimated to using these new inks and media types that they may not have worked with in the past.”
Ryan says, “When it comes to trends, we’re all developing healthier, greener inks. Each year, the next generation inks are healthier without sacrificing what the customer wants, such as color and durability. People also want cleaner, greener inks and, of course, cheaper.”
Greeves says using specialty inks changes things in several ways. “For example, when printing a conventional color image on clear substrates, a white ink layer must be created on which to lay the color image. This means that the white ink must be applied first. Similarly, when an image is to have a metallic effect, it generally is necessary to lay down the metallic ink first. This means that the printer must be able to put down inks in a specific order for success.”