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Wide-Format Print Pt.3

With wide-format print technology continuing to evolve, Carys Evans speaks to suppliers and wide-format print providers alike to find out how these developments can benefit your business

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The decision is yours

In part one of our wide-format print series, we looked at the markets that have boomed during the last 18-plus months such as home décor and wall and floor graphics which played a huge part in keeping us all a safe two metres apart. We also heard from manufacturers and distributors about the latest kit available to help sign-makers tap into these additional revenue streams.

In part two, we explored what sign-makers need to know before taking the plunge and investing in new wide-format technology. This included finding out the entry-level machines featuring smaller footprints and price points available to get you started.

In this third and final feature, we speak to some of the companies serving the wide-format sector about the latest developments in this technology and how investing in this kit could help your business to thrive even more.

Significant improvement

One company that has been busy installing new and refurbished wide-format printers is Atlantic Tech Services. The company is a specialist supplier of AZON and Mutoh UV, DTS (direct-to-substrate) and DTG (direct- to-garment) printers. Atlantic also provides servicing and support for AZON, HP, Mutoh, Mimaki, Roland, and Ricoh wide-format printers. In addition, the company supplies and services Graphtec cutters, trimmers and Easymount laminators.

Recently, Atlantic launched the Versatile Mutoh XpertJet 1642WR water-based printer alongside the DS3 series dye-sublimation inks. The company has also recently launched its own brand ColourSURE Print & Cut RIP (raster image processor) technology for use with all Mimaki, Roland, Mutoh and AZON printers, as well as with the new Mutoh VerteLith RIP software.

Keith Pratt, director of Atlantic Tech, says: “The launch of our own brand ColourSURE Print & Cut RIP is a very exciting and important development for the company which allows us to install all the refurbished printers sold by us with a RIP that we can trust and that gives significant benefits and features to our customers.

“Additionally, we have increased the telephone support functions and online services to fully support our ColourSURE RIP customers, with the RIP freely available to buy or rent dependent on budgets available.”

Supplying such a wide range of wide-format printers, Atlantic has seen how the technology has evolved and grown over the years. Reflecting on this, Pratt says: “We have experienced a significant improvement in the build and quality of wide-format printers. They are more flexible and particularly more reliable, but the biggest improvement is the print head quality. The new heads give end-users significantly higher quality with faster speeds achievable.”

The AZON MonsterJet can print up to 90cm in height

Something Pratt notes is the development of entry-level machines or for companies that need multiple printers. “The development and improvement of the high-performance tabletop printers like the AZON EDGE and PRONTO brings the opportunity of high-quality printing at a price to meet all budgets,” he adds. For sign-makers looking to break into wide-format markets, Pratt advises looking outside the “big brands or manufacturers”. He says: “there are some really great machines which offer improved features at an affordable and cost-effective price.”

A number of directions

Another company that has been part of the sign industry for quite some time is 130-year-old Granthams. Starting out as a signwriter, the company now supplies a range of wide-format graphics equipment such as printers, cutters, laminators, finishing solutions, and materials.

According to Jamie Reader, sales consultant at Granthams, the company was responsible for producing the first fully working solvent printer anywhere in the world. “Of course, the industry has come a long way since then and it’s incredible to see how much the market has matured,” Reader says.

For Reader, the development of wide-format equipment has taken a number of different directions over the years due to varying demands from operators. He says: “This expanded away from the simple questions of “what materials can I print?” into “what solution can offer me same day turnaround and a sustainable advantage and added value effects.”

Focusing on the three main areas Granthams specialises in – solvent, latex, and UV – Reader notes that some tweaks and changes have been made by manufacturers in a bid to offer a competitive edge. One example of this is UV shifting to a “go-to” solution for window graphics thanks to its high speed and vibrant white ink capabilities.

Reflecting on solvent printers, Reader adds: “While solvent printers have played an active role in the market for over twenty years now, we see no sign of this technology being overshadowed any time soon. The vibrancy of solvent ink remains unrivalled, which is what allows it to remain a market leader for the likes of motorbike graphics and corporate graphics where colour accuracy and quality matters most.”

On some of the latest developments in wide-format technology, Reader lists HP Latex printers as one example. He describes the kit as having become a “staple solution” for outdoor advertising and vehicle graphics.