In the label arena, Egert says OKI offers the pro511 DW digital label printer which can handle variable data and variable graphics.
More than Just CMYK
Small-format inkjet can be more than just CMYK. Two of the most interesting applications involve metallic inks and white ink. According to McGovern, “White ink is becoming important for inkjet printing in these commercial print shops where screen printing set up times, labor, and costs are becoming too expensive and slow for fast turnaround production projects.”
“A business tight on space that is looking to add short-run decals and T-shirt heat transfers would benefit by adding a compact desktop print device such as our 20-inch VersaStudio BN-20,” says Valade. “This device prints full-color CMYK durable graphics and has options for either white or metallic ink.”
Valade notes that metallic graphics are extremely popular and easy to produce, and they sell at a premium—at price points that are 30 to 40 percent higher than traditional CMYK output. White ink allows printing on clear media, commonly used for labeling, packaging, and window graphics.
“White toner printing technology can be used in a variety of applications,” says OKI’s Egert. “That includes printing on clear or dark colored media for signage, packaging, and invitations, as well as transfer media as an alternative to screen printing for imprinting on a variety of substrates such as textiles, including leather and hard surfaces”
Roland’s Valade recommends that printers interested in getting into small-format inkjet take inventory of their existing business to determine who their customers are and what they need in the way of graphics, and then look at the types of products they could sell, as well as their budget for the equipment.
Once an investment has been made in a small-format device, printers should create samples to show off their new capabilities. “A great portfolio of samples will help your customers visualize your new capabilities and see how the technology can be applied to their own business and marketing needs,” says Valade. “Remember, versatility is a key factor in growing your business, and the more products and creative options you can provide your customers, the more value you bring to them. In the end, the most successful shops are those that continue to both extend their market reach and exceed their customers’ expectations.”
While small-format inkjet is making early inroads into the quick and small commercial market, it seems only a matter of time before it really catches on as printers seek to become one-stop providers for their customers. Granted, most of the new products that can be produced with this technology can be outsourced, but as prices drop and the devices become more sophisticated and automated, a good case can be made for bringing this type of work in-house.