The Fed money-printing debate aside, is the US economy finally resurging, really? There have been some extremely positive signs. In early February, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 14,000 for the first time in more than five years. The stock market index then surpassed its all-time record one month later. Meanwhile, housing purchases continue to rise in several cities. That means the building trades are picking up, which is a welcome ray of light for business owners like my cousin’s husband, who runs a commercial painting business serving metro Chicago.
I spoke recently with friend, former colleague, and long-time print industry editor Bill Esler, now editorial director for Vance Publishing’s wood-working titles: Custom Woodworking Business, Wood & Wood Products, and Closets magazines. “Business has really picked up, both on the new construction and remodeling sides,” confirmed Esler. The trickle-down effect is great news for the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC); computer-aided design (CAD); and geographic information systems (GIS) mapping fields—and for wide-format print firms providing technical documentation to them.
“The AEC industry was hit hard by the ’08 recession,” added Neal McChristy, a freelance journalist and print industry observer, “and the survivors are on solid footing now. It’s a real tight industry of better players that have a leg up, with ARC [American Reprographic Co.] heading the pack,” said the Pittsburg, KS-based writer who has written for The Recycler and WFI during his 18-year B2B career.
Whether they’re entering the wide-format market or growing an existing business, to make the right large-format (LF) equipment choices for their next purchases, AEC print providers waiting to “kick tires” at the upcoming PRINT 13 and SGIA shows this fall need to understand some essentials. According to a white paper from Océ, a Canon Group company, “The decision to purchase a large-format printer may seem straightforward, but it is actually more complex than it appears. There is no such thing as one-size-fits all, and your unique requirements will help determine your decision.” Image quality, costs, performance, and speed all play into the equation, Océ said.
Infrastructure security, product options, floor space, and environmental impact factor into the purchasing decision as well, as does ease of use, said Bob Honn, product marketing director for Canon Solutions America, formerly Océ North America. “Its importance has increased significantly over the past year or so, as we’ve seen more applications in decentralized [print] environments.”
Honn noted, “People have to be able to submit prints in any fashion, from PCs, USB drives, mobile devices, tablets,” adding that Océ’s free Publisher Mobile app (previously called MobilePlot) can facilitate this task. With more workers on the move, he envisions more integration with Cloud-based applications in the second half of 2013 and beyond. The goal of developing easier-to-use systems is what will drive OEM R&D efforts going forward, he added. “Gone are the days of a wide-format printer installed with a dedicated operator. User interaction needs to be minimal, and designs have to be intuitive for walk-up users who don’t want to deal with changing [paper] rolls or navigating complex settings,” he said. “That’s why features such as our automated media roll-loading process are so important.”
Ease of use also is the reason Epson’s new SureColor T-Series AEC printers feature an optional, internal 250-GB hard drive releases workstations for unattended plotting and a web server for print-queue management and maintenance. The OEM’s Precision XD printer language sets a new standard for high-performance, high-resolution printing, Epson added, compatible with the latest applications and workflow software.