Wide Format Commentary & Analysis
Graphic Alliance, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, started as a commercial print shop but quickly adopted wide-format printing and has carved out a substantial niche in restaurant graphics and signage. The company has also expanded into vehicle wrapping and is currently developing residential interior décor services. Richard Romano spoke with founder and CEO Eric Grossman.
As we all know by now, there are very few surfaces, substances, and objects that can't be printed, and thus there is no end to the print products that a shop can offer. From posters and banners, to signage, to garments and other textile products, to garage doors, to...name it. But when approaching the vast new market for specialty graphics printing, two questions usually come to mind: Where do I start, and How do I sell it? Here is some advice.
Full STEAM Ahead: Blue Ridge Fab Lab and 4-H Partner to Offer 21st-Century Learning—and Wide-Format Printing ()
The Blue Ridge/UA 4-H Fab Lab, based in Pinetop-Lakeside, Ariz., offers student-directed, project-centric STEM training for K-12 students. Thanks to a partnership with 4-H, the facility is available to students across the state. Part of student projects involves designing and printing informational flyers, posters, and other materials on wide-format printers provided by Roland DGA, a sponsor of the Fab Lab. We spoke with Kevin Woolridge, Co-Director of the Fab Lab.
Epson announced two new entry-level models in its SureColor T Series, designed for technical and AES (architecture, engineering, and construction) printing. These devices are targeted more to end users—architecture and design firms, SOHOs, etc.—than print service providers, which indicates the direction technical printing as market segment is going.
When Steve Moran-Cassese decided to launch a print business in the midst of the Great Recession, he knew it could only grow—and he was right. A mix of the right equipment and picking up on hot new application trends early on has helped SpeedPro Marin thrive. And, somewhat ironically, the Bay Area’s booming economy has created its own challenges.
Experiential Graphics Are a Growing Subset of Wide Format, But Can Require a Different Approach in Terms of Sales and Production ()
“Experiential graphics” are a form of interior décor that are becoming a fast-growing part of wide-format and signage. Pursuing that particular application requires a somewhat different strategy than traditional commercial printing—or even traditional wide-format printing.
Textiles and corrugated were the two major themes of this year’s FESPA Global Print Expo. Here are some quick hits from the show.
WhatTheyThink is live at FESPA Berlin 2018 on Day 2 of the show. Welcome to the concept of the microfactory.
The FESPA Global Print Expo 2018 kicked off in Berlin this morning. Here is a quick teaser of some early show highlights.
What do we talk about when we talk about “wide format”? How is the term definitionally changing—and what does it even mean anymore? And more importantly, how does whatever we define as “wide format” play nice with other kinds of printing such as industrial, packaging, and commercial? And how can we navigate the “convergence” of these different print silos? Read on for more.
For about 15 years, Carbon Wraps Orlando has specialized in highly creative vehicle graphics. They took car wrapping to the next level when they worked with local artist Kurt Meister and Avery Dennison to wrap one of his paintings on a vehicle live at the ISA Sign Expo last March. Read on for more about the company and this unique project.
If you watch the RBC Heritage Golf Classic this week, pay attention to the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse. In a first-of-its-kind wrap project undertaken by Savannah, Ga.’s Kennickell Group, the 90-foot structure had its red stripes converted to plaid to commemorate the event’s 50th anniversary. Read on to find out more about the company’s dramatic growth in the wide-format market and how the unique project came about.
The landmark 2015 Supreme Court case Reed v. Town of Gilbert turned a sign code issue into a First Amendment battle. Three years later, its effects are still being felt throughout the signage industry—for good or ill. Read on for some of the latest developments in signage regulations.
The International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo 2018 was held in Orlando, Fla., last week. Channel letters, magnetic signage, neon lighting, LED displays, digital displays, 3D printing, and wide-format and display graphics in all their various incarnations were being showcased. Read on for some highlights from the show.
At an ISA preview event last night, HP presented a new technology for Latex printing on rigid substrates up to two inches thick. Although pricing and availability are not yet available, the company showed sample prints and plans to demonstrate the machine in operation at FESPA in Berlin in May. Learn more.
Less than two years ago, Mark Simmons left the retail world and launched a SpeedPro Imaging franchise in Apex, N.C. A knack for networking, a talented in-house designer, and a vibrant local business environment have helped drive Simmons’ success.
ISA Sign Expo 2018 heads to Orlando next month, with four days of educational sessions and a packed exhibition floor. Richard Romano spoke with Brandon Hensley, ISA’s Chief Operating Officer, and Iain Mackenzie, ISA’s VP of Meetings & Events, about new show features and some returning favorites.
When print service providers seek to expand their offerings, wide-format printing applications like sign, display, and specialty graphics are often considered an attractive opportunity. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence–InfoTrends to explore the benefits that wide format can deliver to print service providers that are hoping to enter new markets and achieve higher margins.
The [Office] Space Age: Signs By Tomorrow Transforms the American Diabetes Association’s New Headquarters ()
Environmental or experiential graphics are a growing trend in signage, with sign shops using the latest display graphics technologies and substrates to transform office spaces. As a result, sign and display graphics providers are working more closely with interior designers and architecture firms. Case in point: Signs By Tomorrow’s interior graphics for the American Diabetes Association’s new headquarters.
We have a new report out, the Printing Forecast 2018, based in large part on the results of our Fall 2017 Business Conditions Outlook survey. There is quite a lot in the 172-page report, but here are some highlights specific to wide-format printing.
Personal voice assistants and the Internet of Things, wide-format graphics and specialty printing—what are some of the new (and old!) technologies to which we should pay attention and how will they affect us in 2018?
More industry consolidation in response to decreased demand. Yet, encouraging business conditions, and challenges with managing productivity. Meanwhile, inkjet continues to conquer the world and new print product and business opportunities emerge in strange new places. Let’s take a look back at the year that was.
Brick and mortar retailer has been struggling with foot traffic. According to early estimates all signs are pointing to more ecommerce, less in-person commerce this holiday season. What does this mean for retail graphics?
One of the pioneers of digital art walks through the steps involved in printing images for a recent book project and complementary dye-sublimation aluminum prints.
Wide format printing is a profitable and complementary product offering for print service providers that are seeking new markets and higher-margin businesses. This article discusses the three key practices for success in this market.
What turned out to be the penultimate SGIA Expo featured an emphasis on “industrial printing”—a nebulous but increasingly common term for what mainstream printing may be morphing into.
Phoenix-based Techniprint needed to adjust its business to account for a growing trend to digitally distribute document sets for architectural and construction projects rather than printing a large number of copies of these sets. Adding two HP PageWide XL 8000 wide format printers to its business resulted in a 25% increase in revenues in the first six months.
New Orleans may have dodged a bullet when Tropical Storm Nate veered to the east, but strong winds of change were nonetheless buffeting the Ernest Morial Convention Center, as 2017’s SGIA Expo opened on Tuesday with the surprising—some even thought shocking—news that the long-beloved Expo was undergoing a major change.
Digital inkjet is driving promotional products—aka ad specialties—from mass-market to short-run personalized production. These items ared used to promote a product, service or company program, including advertising specialties, premiums, incentives, business gifts, awards, prizes, commemoratives, and other imprinted or decorated items—is a market highly dependent upon print.
Next month, the annual SGIA Expo heads to Bayou Country, with more than 50 educational sessions and one of the biggest show floors in the U.S. Here is a preview of what this year’s show offers.
Canned beer isn’t your daddy’s tinny-tasting brew. As microbreweries move small-batch production from bottles to cans, it opens up opportunities for short-run can decoration.
Canned beer isn’t your daddy’s tinny-tasting brew. As microbreweries move small-batch production from bottles to cans, it opens up opportunities for short-run can decoration.
Helping customers navigate complex and constantly changing postal regulations has historically been a vital value-added service for commercial printers. The various rules and regulations regarding signage today provide an opportunity for sign printers.
QR codes are great for “making print interactive,” but in today’s high-data marketing environment, they also have a more important purpose: making print measurable.
Wide-format and specialty and specialty printing are where a lot of the action is today. But expanding into these new areas is not without its pitfalls. Here are some worth avoiding.
Commercial printing is evolving into specialty printing, and opportunities abound—if you know where and how to look for them.
The same technologies that have enabled the proliferation of wide-format graphics are also profoundly changing the traditional specialty printing market. Here’s how print service providers can take advantage of the “nichification” of commercial print.
Last week, FESPA 2017 drew attendees from across Europe and beyond to see the latest in wide-format and specialty printing technology and applications.
We are about to be hit by a “Third Wave” of technology disruption that will negatively impact the demand for print. Or will it? Not all print is created equal these days. Here are some suggestions for how to weather the storm.
Neon. LED. Channel letters. Wooden signs. Magnetic letters. Aside from dynamic digital signage, the “new media” in the sign industry is, strange as it may sound, print. The International Sign Association’s Sign Expo 2017 wrapped up last weekend. Here are some highlights from the show floor and beyond.
The Environmental Protection Agency made some changes to its “generator standard” regarding the safe disposal of hazardous waste. Here is what the printing industry needs to know.
ISA Sign Expo 2017 is back in Vegas, with four days of educational sessions, a packed exhibition hall, and some brand-new partnerships and colocations, including the Collaboration in Packaging Production (CPP) Expo.
Leveraging inkjet technology into the textile industry is presenting an increasingly compelling opportunity for mainstream print equipment and consumable suppliers, according to the latest research from Smithers Pira.
At yesterday’s Canon One event in Boca Raton, Canon Solutions America officially launched the Colorado 1640, the first model in the company’s new line of roll-to-roll wide-format printers based on the revolutionary new UVgel ink technology.
For many people, color management is like the weather. Everyone talks about it, but no one ever does anything about it. But new machines with new ink sets are turning what was always a tricky issue into an even trickier one.
As interest in industrial printing gains momentum, the inaugural InPrint USA Industrial Print Show will take place in Orlando in April. We spoke with SGIA President and CEO Ford Bowers about industrial printing in general and the upcoming show in particular.
The next big communication disruption is upon us. There are many ways print businesses should respond, but focusing on specialty items is one way. This article cites IPMA and WhatTheyThink research to explore opportunities in-plants and commercial printing establishments are seeing in 2017.
Last week’s EFI Connect in Las Vegas saw some new product rollouts, status reports on recent product introductions, and an alternately lighthearted and frightening look at artificial intelligence.
Our annual rundown of the current flatbed wide-format printer landscape.
As we plunge headlong into 2017, let’s kick off the year, as we traditionally do, with a look at the current roll-to-roll printer landscape. Next week, we’ll look at flatbed printers.
Last week, we took a wide-format look back at 2016. What lies ahead for wide-format and specialty graphics printing in 2017?
2016 is almost over! Whew! So, what were the top growth areas for wide-format? What applications are ascendant? What technologies have emerged and evolved?
Advice abounds for using social and other electronic media for marketing, but don’t ignore some “old school” offline marketing strategies.
What wide-format and specialty printing products will be in demand in 2017? Sure, one could say “all of them,” but here are three particular areas to pay special attention to in the new year.
There was a time when I could describe lenticular imaging thusly: “You know those prizes that used to come in boxes of Cracker Jack, little cards that if you held it one way it displayed one image and if you held it another it would flip to another image?” It was a low-tech 3D effect or animation, kind of the analog equivalent of an animated GIF.
A recent state of the in-plant industry report finds that in-plant printing departments are well-poised to expand their wide-format and specialty printing options—not just for their parent organizations, but for outside customers, as well.
When Joshua Feller bought a failing trade show graphics company in 2005, he had little idea that it was the start of a journey that would take him into the world of wide-format printing—and the burgeoning world of digital label printing.
A collection of new products and product previews that were seen on the show floor at last month’s SGIA Expo.
What happened at this year’s SGIA Expo may have happened in Vegas, but it’s not staying in Vegas. Our report from Day One of the show.
Whether it’s only a select few tasks or an entire production workflow, automation is slowly but surely coming to wide-format printing. How is that possible?
Next month, the annual SGIA Expo heads to its West Coast home at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Two of this year’s big topics are garment decoration and 3D printing—and it turns out they are not mutually exclusive. Here’s a preview of this year’s show.
The Printing Industries Alliance hosted an all-day drupa recap at Manhattan’s Club 101. Among the day’s presentations and panel discussions was an extensive conversation about the current state of wide-format graphics and opportunities in the market for commercial printers.
In the latest installment of our occasional Wide-Format 101 series, we offer a general overview of wall, floor, and window graphics.
The first half of 2016 is in the books. How is the industry faring thus far compared o last year? Our new Economics and Research Center report looks at the latest economic, technological, and cultural trends affecting the industry.
Arizona-based large format printer bluemedia has taken a unique approach to workflow that is serving them well, making it possible to efficiently produce large and small projects – including all of the Super Bowl graphics.
OSHA’s latest injury and illness recordkeeping rule is now on the books. Now is the time to review your records and safety policies and make sure they are accurate and compliant with. SGIA’s Rick Hartwig walks us through the new rule and requirements and what they mean for print businesses.
This year’s FESPA Wrap Cup Master Jim Miller started in vehicle graphics at the age of 15, applying screen printed decals to his father’s Little Debbie truck. Today, Miller Decals installs vehicle graphics and other types of displays for more than 600 customers around the country.
In the latest installment of our occasional Wide-Format 101 series, we offer a primer on basic finishing processes, specifically rollfed cutters and flatbed cutting tables.
Week two of drupa brought few major announcements, but wide-format offerings were hardly inconspicuous.
drupa opens at the end of this month and while drupa has not traditionally been one of the go-to shows for wide-format printing, as wide-format has become a hot topic in the general commercial printing market, it is taking a bigger role at this year’s show.
The biggest issue facing print buyers for retail brands is turn time and speed to market. How can print service providers best help retailers solve this problem?
Last week, HP announced two new series of Latex printers, so this seems as good a time as any to offer a little “Latex 101” primer for those who may be new to the topic and technology.
Two weeks ago, at Roland’s second annual ImagiNATION user conference, Giveme Help’s Mark Rugen ran down a list of some lesser-known image editing programs and other utilities for professionals doing design and production for wide-format graphics. Here are some highlights.
If the ISA Sign Expo 2016 demonstrated one thing—and it demonstrated far more than one thing—it was that “signage” is part of a much larger graphic ecosystem than can include products and applications seemingly far-removed from signs.
When the auto industry crashed and burned in 2007–2008, and their biggest client pulled most of their business, Michigan’s Landaal Packaging Systems saw an opportunity to reinvent itself with digital wide-format printing.
SGIA’s Marci Kinter offers a comprehensive set of environmental sustainability tips and strategies that go beyond merely choosing the right substrate.
Sign Expo 2016 comes to Orlando, with four days of educational sessions, keynotes, and a packed exhibition hall. As an added bonus, both Roland’s ImagiNATION 2016 and Durst’s Retail 2020 are colocated with this year’s Sign Expo.
There are a number of different printing technologies used to print fabrics and textiles. One of the most common—and the one that is getting the most attention these days—is dye sublimation. What is dye sublimation printing, and what do you need to take advantage of the technology?
Digital textile printing is seemingly everywhere, and many sources tout it as a high growth area. New product announcements are also coming thick and fast. But what are the basics of digital textile printing? This week, we offer a basic primer on the topic.
Canon Solutions America hosted its third anniversary event last week in Boca Raton, Fla., highlighting the state of the market, new product developments, and customer case studies. In this feature, we focus on the company’s wide-format offerings.
On February 1, Ford Bowers took the reins as president and CEO of SGIA, succeeding Michael Robertson after nearly 33 years of service. In Part 2 of this two-part interview, we talk with Ford about the SGIA Expo, as well as the overall challenges facing the wide-format and specialty graphics printing industry.
On February 1, Ford Bowers took the reins as president and CEO of SGIA, succeeding Michael Robertson after nearly 33 years of service. In Part 1 of this two-part interview, we talk with Ford Bowers about his history with Miller Zell, his plans for SGIA, the role of the trade association in today’s landscape.
Commoditization has come creeping into wide-format and specialty graphics, but does it mean the end of profitability?
New OSHA workplace safety regulations and changes in reporting requirements and on-site inspections are on the horizon. Here’s what companies in the specialty graphics industry need to know to ensure they are compliant.
EFI is integrating hardware and software for specialty printing applications, as well as making the most of its many recent acquisitions. Here are some wide-format-related highlights.
Herewith a handful of recent new announcements that caught your Section Editor’s eye.
Our annual rundown of the current flatbed wide-format printer landscape.
Our annual rundown of the current rollfed wide-format printer landscape.
Last week, we took a wide-format look back at 2015. Now let’s switch directions. What can we expect in 2016? Before we answer that, though, what is 2016 likely to hold for the printing industry in general?
What were the top growth areas for wide-format in 2015? What applications are ascendant? What technologies are emerging and evolving?
Digital wide-format printing is one of the most significant growth areas in the entire print industry. InfoTrends offers some of its data on the top-growing wide-format printing applications, and takes a look at how the supply chain for equipment, supplies, and consumables is changing.
From your own physical location—and website—to social media, to local business media, there is no shortage of options for showing off and promoting cool, creative projects you have completed.
If you been to Comic-Con in the last five years, you have seen Las Vegas based Off the Wall Signs & Graphics’ work. Its updated fleet of grand format printers have enabled bigger projects with shorter cycle times and are the basis for the company’s growth. Learn more in this story sponsored by HP.
Four-and-a-half years ago, Bob Kelleher of East Syracuse’s SpeedPro Imaging of Central New York made the transition from software sales to wide-format printing and has never looked back.
We wrap up our coverage of last week’s SGIA Expo 2015 with a look at a handful of the major new product announcements that were made at the show.
The Atlanta skyline may have been shrouded in fog, but inside the Georgia World Congress Center, all was clear on Wednesday as the SGIA Expo 2015 officially opened.
It’s not so much Hotlanta as Humidlanta, and although the SGIA Expo officially opens on Wednesday, Tuesday saw a full slate of programs that ran the gamut from the highly technical (the Printed Electronics Symposium), to the specialized (the vehicle wrapping hands-on workshop), to the very basic (Wide-Format 101).
St. Louis’ Triflare specializes in racewear for triathlon participants, swimmers, and other athletes—all produced digitally using dye-sublimation printing.
In 1981, L.A. photographer Steve Reisch captured legendary director John Cassavetes and his stock company backstage as they rehearsed and performed an experimental series of plays. Unseen for 34 years, the images have been brought back to life thanks to a partnership between Reisch and Canon USA.
If it jets ink, it’s a hot technology, and while production inkjet got the bulk of the buzz at last week’s Graph Expo, wide-format and specialty printing continue to play a much larger role.
InfoTrends enumerates the keys to success in wide-format printing, from developing a strategy, to choosing equipment, to picking partnerships, to effectively training the sales staff.
As wide-format and specialty graphics play a larger role in the industry, they are also playing a larger role at general commercial printing shows like Graph Expo. Here is a preview of some things to look for at this year’s show.
Dan Marx, VP–Markets & Technologies at the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association looks back at pivotal moment in the history of the SGIA Expo.
“Our aim is to become a company that is truly indispensable to our customers,” said Minoru Usui, Global President of Seiko Epson, kicking off “Experience Epson,” a day of interactive demos of a cross-section of Epson technologies, from wide-format printing, to interactive whiteboards, to golf swing analyzers, to Augmented Reality-based headsets, to…well, you name it. The event was held last week in New York City.
From wood, to glass, to textiles, to animal pelts—and even to paper—ARB Digital takes on challenging projects, thanks to founder Alvaro Rodriguez’s background in tech support, color management, and software development.
What is the difference between a “green” business and a “sustainable” one? What are some unique approaches to the concept of sustainability that printing companies—large- and small-format—are taking? In the end, it’s not just about making the company sustainable, but rather the entire supply chain.
SGIA’s Dan Marx shares some of his organization’s most recent research on industrial printing. What technologies are companies in the industrial printing space using? What products and technologies have they been investing in? Where do they see the most (and least) growth opportunities? What is their business outlook?
New applications for outdoor graphics are appearing all the time, and new printing technologies are revitalizing some older applications. Some considerations if you are looking at outdoor graphics, and a look at one South Florida shop that has carved out a niche in the great outdoors.
OK, so you’ve invested in wide-format printing capabilities, the equipment is up and running, the staff is trained, and you’re ready to RIP. How do you get work to run on that equipment?
Smart screens that look back at their onlookers are only the beginning of the changes that digital technology will bring to signage and display markets that used to belong to—but now must be shared by—conventional print.
Printing is easy; it’s all the other stuff that can pose challenges. Producing wide-format output can require a different approach to traditional processes, from selling, to finishing, to transporting. What do you need to know before you take the plunge?
If you happen to have been in Singapore recently—and who of us hasn’t?—you may have caught sight of a new wide-format backlit film that can be used for vehicle graphics. Called eLumiNEX, it has been given a shakedown cruise on a bus.
SGIA’s Dan Marx shares highlights from the 2015 SGIA Specialty Imaging Industry Survey. What equipment is hot? What products are on the rise, and which are on the decline? In what verticals are the hot prospects? And what is the overall market outlook for the wide-format and specialty graphics industry?
If you work with hazardous chemicals or other substances commonly used in printing operations, June 1, 2015, is the deadline for meeting new requirements to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), in particular, new warning labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Here’s what you need to know.
By all accounts, the sign and display industry is growing by leaps and bounds. But getting accurate sizing data is fraught with difficulties—difficulties that have largely been caused by the very factors that are driving growth.
InfoTrends’ Steve Urmano recaps the recent ISA Sign Expo with a rundown of some of the major product announcements, as well as a diverse array of other printing and finishing equipment on display.
Dynamic digital signage is becoming a hotter and hotter topic, and while there are ample opportunities for companies to get in on, if not the ground floor, than at least the mezzanine, it’s not to everyone’s taste. Here are some arguments for—and against.
Founded 10 years ago, SpeedPro Imaging is a network of 120 franchises—or “studios”—located in 30 states that specialize in wide-format printing, from trade show and event graphics, to vehicle graphics, to wall murals, and beyond.
Temporary Signage and “EMCs” Continue to Rile City Planners; What Aspiring Sign Shops Need to Know ()
There are growing opportunities for print service providers in signage—both printed and electronic—but it pays to do your homework when it comes to signage regulations.
The International Sign Association’s Sign Expo took place last week in Las Vegas, NV. Richard Romano files his observations from the show.
Yesterday, on the eve of the opening of the ISA Sign Expo, HP took the opportunity to launch five new products in its high-end Latex and Scitex families. These are the HP Latex 370, the HP Scitex FB550 and FB750, HP Scitex 11000 Industrial Press, and HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press.
Herein a basic primer on today’s ink options for wide-format printing, from solvent and eco-solvent to UV, from latex to dye-sublimation.
Standards for “green” or eco-friendly printed products and processes are still in flux, and don’t always gibe with environmental compliance reporting requirements. It pays to know what the differences are.
Not living anywhere near Arizona, I was unaware of the recent “Phoenix Llama Drama,” which is apparently not some new reality TV show. Rather, last month, a brace of the beasts escaped while—and I have to quote ABC News here—“making a therapy visit to residents at an assisted living facility.”
New features, sessions, programs, and speakers at the upcoming International Sign Expo aim to educate present and prospective signmakers about the latest business and technology trends in this growing industry.
Improving technology is causing some wide-format applications to experience that dreaded word “commoditization.” How can print providers fight against it? Can they? Or—most importantly—should they?
Capacity management has proven to be a challenge for many wide-format print businesses, especially as many jobs are specialized or customized in some way. What are the ways that shops are coping with this “pain point”?
Technical printing—graphics that serve the architectural, engineering, and construction markets—has been changing in both positive and negative ways, and “reprographics” shops are changing with the times. And it’s not always just about the equipment.
Throughout the years, our printing industry has always faced challenges with meeting regulatory compliance of existing OSHA rules. Now, in 2015, there are new changes that will bring new impacts. Two of the changes discussed below have come about because of revisions to OSHA’s record keeping and reporting rules and the third is attached to the recent revision of the Hazard Communication Standard.
How do you decide what kinds of wide-format or specialty printing products and services to add to your current mix? You can jump into a new niche application as a newbie, or organically expand into new directions. As it turns out, there is no right answer—but plenty of wrong ones.
I was talking with the owner of a sign shop recently, and we got to talking about new technologies that sign and display companies were starting to utilize—I was thinking specifically of EFI’s SmartSign Analytics—but he happened to mention other new technologies such as “smart fitting rooms” whereby sensors in a clothing retailer’s fitting room mirror track RFID tags on the clothing you brought in to try on and suggests accessories or complementary items. Sound creepy? It does a bit, doesn’t it?
About 15 years ago—give or take—in a monthly humor column I wrote at the time for the late, lamented Micro Publishing News, I proposed the idea of a drive-through wide-format printer for vehicle graphics.
Build your business in 2015 by exploring new opportunities, developing a clear vision for success, and stretching the boundaries of what your shop and your shop’s equipment can produce.
As I was planning the 2015 editorial calendar for our Wide-Format section, I began by drawing up a list of topics that I had covered, topics that were heavily featured at trade shows like SGIA and ISA, and topics tend to get covered elsewhere in the industry press. And aside from the basic technological topics like “Roll-to-Roll Printers,” “Flatbeds,” “Finishing,” and so forth, the majority of the subject matter was on specific applications—and applications that were all over the map (and some even included maps!).
Web-to-print is not a new technology, but despite its many advantages, when evaluating solutions, be sure to ask some specific wide-format questions.
New year’s resolutions are ephemeral things. January 2, for example, is a kind of Black Friday for gyms and fitness centers, but by the end of the month, the crowds have returned to normal.
In today’s wide-format market, flatbed printers are all the rage and, for certain applications, deservedly so. But the earliest wide-format printers were all rollfed (or roll-to-roll) devices, and it wasn’t until the early 2000s that flatbeds existed as a product category. Flatbeds emerged to take time and materials out of the “print-then-mount” process; after all, why not just print directly on the surface you want the graphic?
2014 has been a year of incremental—but substantial—improvements in wide-format systems. These improvements are creating ever more opportunities in a variety of applications. Here’s what to keep an eye on in 2015.
Epson’s beachwear “fashion show” highlights the possibilities of digital dye-sublimation fabric printing, and how it could change fashion design.
With a little research, a clearly defined strategy, and fast, high-quality wide-format printing equipment, Phoenix, Ariz.’s Rapid Digital Press has carved out a successful niche in map and GIS printing applications, and is now poised for growth.
October’s SGIA Expo was about more than just new technology, it was about finding new business opportunities and areas for growth. Here are some examples of printing companies who gleaned practical information from the show to take their businesses in new directions.
Mimaki’s 25-city road show includes hands-on product demonstrations and educational presentations that highlight new features of, and top applications enabled by, today’s wide-format printing equipment. Here is a report from one stop on the tour.
InfoTrends revisits September’s Graph Expo and recaps some of the highlights from a wide-format perspective. At the same time, the show itself is evolving into entirely new directions, reflective of how the industry itself is evolving.
The SGIA Expo was about more than just new hardware—new substrates were also on display, as well as what keeps the hardware productive: color management, production, and RIPing software.
SGIA Expo exceeded virtually everyone’s expectations. In Part 1 of our show coverage we look at some of the major hardware introductions.
For those of us who cover wide-format and specialty graphics printing, the biggest show of the year is the SGIA Expo, coming up next week in Las Vegas. It can be tough, travel being what it is, to muster enthusiasm for far-flung trade events, but there is a great deal of value in getting out of the office and attending these kinds of shows. So in this “listicle,” here are the top seven reasons I am looking forward to next week’s show.
One day prior to the SGIA Expo, Roland DGA is launching their inaugural ImagiNATION 2014 user group conference, designed as an information exchange for owners and operators of Roland’s wide-format printing equipment.
This year’s upcoming SGIA Expo in Las Vegas will showcase the latest technologies, applications, and opportunities in today’s wide-format and display graphics markets.
Versioning, the use and integration of digital displays, eye-tracking, point-of-purchase displays, mobile technologies, and payment software, “virtualization”—where a company offers a particular printing service but outsources the actual production, and printing as a service are quickly becoming the status quo in the wide-format printing business.
Dynamic digital signage (DDS) is being touted as a hot opportunity for sign shops and other wide-format service providers. But where does one start? And how can digital complement print signage?
In Part II of this feature, we examine some of the trends engendered by digital printing, and how they apply to wide-format printing—and how they are changing.
The first-generation Memjet-based devices have hit the market, and have helped wide-format inkjet conquer the speed challenge. What will second-gen Memjet look like?
Creating a printing business that can cope with a changing market for print and that is “future-focused”—is imperative as we hurtle toward 2020. If you’re a wide-format printer, you may be halfway there—but that’s no excuse for complacency.
In this two part series, Dan Marx of SGIA talks about the basic truths of digital printing in general and wide format in particular. While the basic truths have remained unchanged, the details surrounding them have.
If you look around your home or office (or home office), you’ll notice numerous examples of what I’ve referred to in the past as “stealth printing,” printed materials that don’t fall into what we consider commercial printing, but is a huge market nonetheless.
As wide-format graphics buyers increasingly demand faster turnaround, higher quality, and lower price—as well as an ever-growing range of specialty print applications—print service providers are looking for the fastest and most versatile equipment possible. Manufacturers are helping…but is there really a “silver bullet”?
At an event in San Diego, Calif., held June 9 and 10, HP announced that they are scaling up their PageWide technology for use in wide-format printers. PageWide made its debut in 2013 in the Officejet Pro X Series of desktop multifunction devices.
I recently had the chance to talk with Scott Crosby of Holland & Crosby, Ltd., about issues relating to bottlenecks in the wide-format production process. In the article, it’s interesting to see how changes (and improvements) in technology can strongly affect a company’s complete process. The comments included here may sound familiar to many using wide-format equipment.
Last month, being in touch with the latest developments in wide-format inkjet printing for graphic arts and industrial applications meant being at FESPA Digital, a European trade expo billing itself as the “largest focused digital print exhibition worldwide this year.”
Unless you have been lost, you are all too aware that the market for print has been changing, changing dramatically, and not changing for the best. We’ve had this discussion for a long time, so we need not dwell on it here. As a result, many companies have looked to wide-format and other types of specialty printing as a compelling replacement.
The results are in from SGIA’s annual Specialty Graphics Industry Survey (the full report will be released in June), and the data we’ve received shows the wide-format graphics community going strong. The information included here covers some of the “high-points” of our findings, and provides a bit of analysis, from my viewpoint.
At the International Sign Association’s Sign Expo, the current state of dynamic digital signage (DDS) was reminiscent of a kind of “Cambrian explosion,” with a proliferation of solutions emerging.
Industrial printing is a massive industry, serving vertical markets from aerospace to electronics, and from medical to interior design. What makes industrial printing (for the most part) unique (and mostly hidden from view) is that most industrial printing companies are not “print for pay” enterprises.
The ISA International Sign Expo 2014 is coming to Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center this April 23–26, with educational and networking sessions starting on the 23rd and the trade show itself starting on the 24th. (Each year, the Sign Expo alternates between Las Vegas and Orlando.) Some new features of the show debuted in Vegas last year, and will thus be new to an Orlando—and thus a largely Southeast U.S.— crowd.
Dan shares some of the most pertinent pain points discussed at SGIA's annual Congress of Committees, as they provide a unique view into today’s wide-format industry.
It was a sunny morning Southern California. An ocean breeze was blowing in from nearby Redondo Beach, and as the freight train next door—the bane of our existence—clattered endlessly and rattled the building, we gathered in the first floor conference room of the Torrance offices of Micro Publishing News magazine to evaluate the hundred or so submissions to what, back in 1999, was our Seventh Annual Digital Art contest.
E Pluribus Unum: “Butterflies & Buffalo” Project Uses Wide-Format Graphics to Document and Celebrate American Cultures ()
In this age of poor-quality cameraphone images and unflattering “selfies,” it’s easy to forget how powerful high-quality, professional photography can be.
From so simple a beginning. Avondale, Ariz.’s AZ Pro Signs and Graphics, based just outside Phoenix, started nine years ago with a 21-inch plotter—and has seen no less than double-digit growth every year, even during the recession years.
Since the highly-successful SGIA Expo, which took place a little more than a month ago, I’ve been putting some new thought into wide-format digital printing, trying to come up with a new way to describe the industry to those who are new to it, or have simply put a toe in our wide-format pool.
While the commercial printing industry has seen an overall decline in demand for print over the last 15 years, the demand for wide-format printed graphics is actually increasing. As a result, more and more commercial printers are looking at adding wide-format to their offerings.
At the SGIA Expo in Orlando several weeks ago, EFI garnered a Product of the Year award for its GS Pro-TF thermoforming system. Interstate Graphics Inc. (IGI), based in Machesney Park, Ill.—just outside Rockford—was the first company to install the GS Pro-TF.
Minneapolis-based John Roberts has installed the first 7-color HP Indigo 10000 digital press in North America. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with CEO Michael Keene to delve into why the company made this decision and what they expect to achieve going forward.
The SGIA show held in Orlando this year gave evidence of continuing strong demand for inkjet printed display graphics, and increasingly also for production inkjet textile print and decorative output.
At the beginning of day one of the SGIA Expo, SGIA President Michael Robertson had announced a pre-registered attendee count of around 21,000. By Friday morning, the third and final day of the Expo, the count had topped 22,400.
Day 1 of SGIA and WhatTheyThink is on the ground in Orlando and Richard Romano has you covered with the latest from the show as we kick off what is said to be near record crowds.
Digital inkjet printing technology offers many advantages for soft signage and other types of textile printing—but the old supply chain is making further adoption difficult.
In recent years, we have seen explosive growth in the interior décor market with digital décor increasing at a rate of more than 20 percent year-over-year .
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend a major printing trade show in Chicago—you may have been there as well. A quick take on the show is that it was well-executed and well-attended, but smaller than we’ve come to think the quadrennial Print event should be.
Wide-format printing has always been an endeavor for the highly creative, and it would be hard to find someone more creative than Armstrong.
The information included in this article is a short summary of the data presented in SGIA’s soon-to-be-released 2013 Market Trends & Product Specialties Benchmarking Report. The data presented is culled from the responses of 136 U.S. sign and graphics producers, and provides an excellent snapshot of the graphics and sign segment today. A full report will be available on SGIA.org later this year.
Stakeholders in the sign and display market can look back on the past 18 months and note solid growth attributed to the steady and measured ascent of digital printing. Globally, we witnessed the continued adoption and embrace of digital as innovative new technologies helped print providers convert analog pages to generate new business and increase opportunities with existing clients.
The wide format inkjet market is growing rapidly with expanding new products and applications. The equipment cost is relatively modest when compared to offset presses and bindery equipment. What do I need to consider before I jump on board?
FESPA is the Federation of European Screen Print Associations. It started as an annual exhibition by Display Graphics, Textile, and Specialist Screen Print suppliers of products for their customers and over time came to include inkjet wide-format print offerings by their various vendors.
I’m currently in my 22nd year serving the specialty graphics industry. During my time with SGIA, I’ve been witness to the complete changeover in imaging equipment technology.
Signage and wide format graphics have become an integral part of the marketing mix. This article highlights recent InfoTrends research and also explores how PIP Printing (Peoria, IL) is leveraging wide format to expand its own business opportunities.
HP may have its share of problems in its overall business, but its maniacal focus on expanding its footprint among existing analog wide-format graphics print applications is not affected. At FESPA, it introduced two new high-volume wide-format printers, its most productive latex and UV-curable ink jet printers to date aimed at expanding HP’s footprint among wide-format analog graphics print applications.
WhatTheyThink's Eric Vessels made a short trip from his home in Ohio down to the xpedx headquarters in Cincinnati for one of fourteen Wide Format Summits being put on by the company in 2013. This piece gives his impressions as well as thoughts from those who attended the event.
Signage is becoming an increasingly important marketing component for attracting on-the-go consumers. Wide format graphics represent a major opportunity for print service providers. This article explores how retailers can use wide format graphics to increase their marketing presence in today’s cross-media world.
This is Part I of what will be an occasional series of manufacturer “Experience Center” visits.
Greater revenue utilization and lower labor costs will drive the slow but steady growth of electronic billboards—despite public and government opposition—but print billboards will still account for more than 96% of all billboards by 2015.
WhatTheyThink's Richard Romano attends an xpedx wide format printer summit and comes away with the impression that a cutter stole the show!
Precious Fluids II: Wide-Format Inks Are Opening Up New Applications for Graphics Providers—And Vice Versa
In part I of this feature, we took a broad look at the different categories of inks available for wide-format inks. This week, we’ll take a closer look at how inks handle different applications (or perhaps vice versa) and, more importantly, how to think about ink in the context of choosing wide-format equipment, and how to measure and evaluate estimates of things like “cost per square foot.”
Dan provides a summary and his take on some of the results from a recently conducted SGIA Survey. The full survey results will be published in the SGIA report " Equipment & Financial Outlook Benchmarking Report".
There is, in some ways, a fundamental paradox when it comes to wide-format inks. There are more ink choices than ever, and yet for any given piece of equipment, you are generally stuck in a “one-cartridge-fits-all” situation.
Last month’s ISA show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center was a good opportunity to review the wide-format graphics market and some of the spinoff products in adjacent markets.
Perched on the northern quay of the Royal Victoria Dock in the Docklands of London is the ExCel Centre, an exhibit space constructed in 2000 but retooled and overhauled for the 2012 Olympic Games, where weightlifters, fencers, boxers, and wrestlers grappled for the gold. Next month, the Centre will host competitors of a different sort.
I recently had the chance to attend PIA’s annual Continuous Improvement Conference, and among the many kernels of information I left Indianapolis with was the concept that innovation and efficiency go hand-in-hand.
On March 19th Océ (part of the Canon Group) hosted an International Inkjet Days event at its site in Poing Germany (just east of Munich). Océ invited a group of industry analysts to see the latest enhancements to its impressive inkjet product portfolio and it offered educational sessions on inkjet technology, document security and color perception.
The Las Vegas Strip is home to many things that you’d be hard-pressed find anywhere else—and, generally, that’s a good thing.
IT Strategies has just completed its 19th wide-format graphics inkjet forecast, wrapping up nearly two decades’ worth of experience into a single large Excel spreadsheet. The trends year-over-year aren’t surprising. Growth continues.
We have been previewing ISA’s International Sign Expo 2013. A fortnight ago, we looked at the educational opportunities to be had, and this week we will look at but the merest handful of the offerings on the show floor.
Wide-format inkjet technology has become the “go to” technology for a number of traditional and non-traditional printing segments The purpose of this article is to define the differences between these segments, in general terms.
The International Sign Expo, coming up April 3–6 will feature more than 500 exhibitors, more than 40 educational sessions, and ample networking opportunities, all related to the “on-premise” signage industry.
HP introduced its first latex-ink wide-format printer in 2008, targeting replacement of aggressive solvent printers. Since that time, HP has introduced multiple versions and the market has taken off a growth rates reflecting the beginnings of the aqueous WF industry back in 1992.
Today’s superwides, which are proliferating in terms of number of models on the market, boast much better image quality, resolution, speed, and versatility than their forebears.
The idea of printing materials that go on walls is not exactly new. Wallpaper, posters, murals, and other items have been printed by traditional technologies for decades, if not centuries.
Having navigated the wide-format digital printing world for more than 20 years, Lynn Krinsky, president of Stella Color (Seattle, WA), knows a thing or two about growing and prospering in this innovative and competitive area.
Wide Format Graphics Printing: The Numbers Speak Loud and Clear for those with the First Mover Advantage
Wide format graphics ink jet printing is entering its second decade of commercialization and is belatedly being discovered by commercial print-service-providers. The ubiquitous availability of wide format output at the consumer level is opening the door to promote wide format graphics print as an alternative to traditional advertising for small businesses.
A walk down the street, a drive on the highway, or a trip on mass transit today provides ample opportunities to experience one of the hottest specialty graphics growth areas: vehicle graphics. From personal vehicles with custom graphics, to commercial vans and tractor-trailers, to buses, rail cars, and even planes, fleets of all kinds are becoming more picture-esque than ever.
Using information from a number of surveys conducted by SGIA during 2012, I’ve put together a snapshot of a “typical” specialty imaging company. While the specialty imaging industry is highly diverse, with lots of companies doing lots of things, it is both interesting and thought-provoking to create a typical company using trends and high points from the data we’ve received.
Richard looks at the printing shipment trends that happened over the previous year, and provides a bit of analysis.
In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, becoming more “green” is one resolution that few can find fault with. Unfortunately, green printing is difficult, if not impossible, to clearly define.
I.T. Strategies surveyed Wide Format Print Converters and buyers in the US to gauge output-selling price for wide format printed output. They interviewed sellers and buyers of output produced on low-end, high-end, flat-bed and roll to roll printers, and all ink chemistries-UV, solvent, eco solvent, and latex to get a sense of current retail output prices.
SGIA just released its Industry Pulse Benchmarking Report for the third quarter of 2012. The purpose of the report is to provide specialty imaging companies with information they can use to compare their business with the broader community.
New developments, and at least one new system, are opening up magnetic media to entire new applications for small- and wide-format printers and installers. Vehicle graphics is one burgeoning field, as is magnetic signage, and even entire wall coverings.
Richard Romano talks about UV printing from a technology standpoint, identifies where LED technology fits into the overall scheme of things, and looks to see what the future may hold for it.
Although predominantly known as a workflow company-"Fiery" is essentially synonymous with RIPing-EFI was demonstrating at SGIA a couple of weeks ago its prowess in developing wide-format hardware, with models on display that showcased two of the company's new technological developments.
Behind the many accolades SGIA has received is the undeniable fact that the specialty graphics industry in general, and the wide-format digital graphics industry in particular, is the current epicenter of today’s printing industry. The purpose of this article is to define why.
Richard Romano gives a walk through of SGIA Expo-held October 18-20 in Las Vegas- where every conceivable surface and object was printed on for his enjoyment.
This week, today, to be precise, the annual SGIA Expo kicks off at the Las Vegas Convention Center and runs October 18–20. There is a tendency in pre- and post-trade show coverage to recite a litany of vendors, products, and specifications, but one of the important things to understand about the wide-format market is that it is all about applications.
Scanning through industry publications that cover wide-format digital markets can be a daunting task for any company just approaching this area. The purpose of this article is to focus in on the center of the wide-format digital bulls-eye, and find out the markets and products that make up a majority of the money made using this technology.
The month of October brings a brace of major trade shows for the printing industry; October 7–10 brings Graph Expo, as it always does, to McCormick Place in Chicago, while October 18–20 brings the annual SGIA Expo to the Las Vegas Convention Center. WhatTheyThink will be on the prowl at both shows with video, actual written reports, and more.
In last week's feature, guest writer Dan Marx outlined five "essential truths" about wide-format printing, and in his introduction he mentioned that he's witnessed "a full-blown revolution: a complete movement away from old-school analog technology." Over the past several months, as I have spoken to equipment manufacturers and suppliers for these weekly features, as well as other analysts, one thing that always comes up is the fact that more and more traditional printing companies are expanding into wide-format printing
Dan Marx, Vice President Markets & Technologies, SGIA, draws out some "essential truths"-real kernels of wisdom-that can benefit any company looking to enter wide-format or grow their existing efforts in this area.
In last week’s feature, we spoke about flatbed wide-format printers, and remarked that one of their big selling points was that they could print on a bewildering variety of materials—increasing the number of applications that creative shops could develop, the more niches shops could carve out for themselves, and the better they could serve their clients.
Since the advent of the wide-format printing market in the late 1980s/early 1990s, the vast majority of the output devices on the market have been rollfed devices, printing on flexible substrates like paper or canvas that unfurled into the device, rather like a web press. The finished graphic was then often mounted onto a rigid material for display, installation, or other end use.
This week, we’re going to take a step back from our look at the nuts and bolts of wide-format printing technology and look at the industry and the economy from “20,000 feet”—and hopefully not have a William Shatner-esque experience.
Richard provides some features and issues to keep a special eye out for when looking at RIP's for wide-format printing.
Those new to wide-format printing—and even some veterans—often give short shrift to what happens to a print once it comes off press. In wide-format printing, however, the real added value is often in the finishing.
Those of us used to traditional offset and digital printing rarely give the concept of white ink a second thought. After all, “white” is typically synonymous with the color of paper, so when we want something to be white, we design it with the absence of any color. (Tellingly, in Adobe InDesign, we select the color swatch labeled “Paper.”) There are situations, however, when—oxymoronic as it may seem—we need to specify the color white.
The past five years have seen an increased discussion of, and emphasis on, the idea of “sustainability.” Sustainability can refer to many things, but one of the oft-discussed components of it is environmental sustainability. That is, what is the impact of a product or process on the environment, and what are the ways of reducing that impact?
In today’s economy, getting the most out of your marketing dollars requires a smarter and more creative approach. With a little bit of creativity, wide format providers can leverage public relations, innovative Websites, networking, customer education, and social media to reach customers and grow their businesses. This analysis provides five key strategies for promoting your business.
Commercial printers and in-plants are adding large format capabilities, and many report that this move has enabled them to capture additional marketing dollars from new and existing customers. Large format is increasing in importance because it has become a key customer touchpoint for marketers of all sizes. This article takes a closer look at the wide format market opportunity.
FedEx Office recently announced that it would be accelerating investment in grand format printing services in selected centralized production centers to supplement its service offerings. The same release also reported that Boeing had selected FedEx Office as its print service provider of choice. WhatTheyThink Senior Editor Cary Sherburne talked to the company to learn more.
Today, Epson launched its next generation, newly-branded 64” solvent printer – the SureColor S30670 is a four-color solvent printer (CMYK) using Epson UltraChrome GS2 ink. Read more.
Latex ink jet ink technology was introduced by Hewlett-Packard in 2008 for wide format graphics printing applications, and after an extended period of beta-testing and an economic recession it went mainstream in 2010. During the last 18 months in particular unit placements have continued to gain strength, now totaling over 10,000 placements wordwide at the end of 2011.
SGIA was flooded with small ink, roller, blade, and other screen consumable suppliers: How do so many analog screen suppliers hang on? The simple reason: screen output remains cheap-and turnaround is fast enough.
As we approach drupa 2012, what are the technologies we can expect to see that will drive change in the printing and publishing markets? Once again, we can expect to see a significant position for inkjet in the array of new technologies exhibitors have on display. This time, however, while there will still be a large presence in the production sector.
As printing companies move towards environmentally friendly processes and products they must sort through the misinformation in the marketplace. This article helps to educate the printer on what to look for in printing ink.
In June 2011, InfoTrends completed its Who Buys Wide Format? study, which was designed to collect more information about the buyers of large format products. It fostered an understanding of wide format graphics buyer requirements while also tracking changes in buying patterns since the previous study from 2009. This article discusses key findings from that study and also provides real-world examples of retailers that are interacting with consumers at the point of purchase.
Thanks to the internet and smart phones, as well as tools like QR codes and text messaging, one of the oldest ad media is becoming interactive. In her current article, Barb Pellow explores the interactive features that many companies are using to enhance their billboards and outdoor signage. She provides many real world examples that range from educational to purely promotional.
Based on our experiences at IPEX 2010, it’s finally looking like the mood of the industry has changed and we might be entering a period of economic growth. The event showcased developments in a variety of areas, but the greatest interest seemed to be in the rise on inkjet printing. Andy Tribute offers his thoughts.
IPEX 2010 affirmed that inkjet is here to stay. The show is over but the memory lingers on. There are almost 300 roll-fed production inkjet printers sold or installed in the world. And Xerox validated inkjet by showing an inkjet technology. But we could see inkjet die very quickly if suppliers and users do not re-invent the way they do business. Here's how they might fail.
IPEX is many things – a celebration of print, a Euro-centric gathering of major and minor vendors, a walkable show that makes it easy to enjoy the variety of offerings that compose our industry – but it’s certainly no drupa.
This year is being seen as the real start for sales of high-speed inkjet presses. This article looks at some of the key items that need to be considered by potential buyers of these presses. This includes substrates that can used, the types of ink and the life of the print heads.
We may call this “the week that was” when looking back at the stories for 2009 in our year-end review! The Monday news opened a few eyes over morning coffee. While the Canon acquisition of Océ grabbed the day’s headlines; the second story – Agfa’s acquisiton of Gandinnovations – was just as interesting.
I have just attended the IMI European Ink Jet Printing conference in Barcelona. One tends to think that inkjet printing is something new but this was the 17th annual conference on this subject. One tends to forget just how long the inkjet technology has been around and also just how long it has been used in the graphic arts markets.
"Unscientific" has to be the word for our selection of exhibitors to write about in the aftermath of Print 09. Some are on the follow-up list because of pre-booked editorial appointments; others because of what we heard at media briefings during the show; and, in a couple of cases, because we were buttonholed by pouncing p.r. people as we moved past the booths, never intending to stop. But, at a show like Print 09, any reason for spending time with a vendor usually turns out to be a good one in terms of knowledge gained.
HP Scitex Knows What It's Doing When It Throws A Party - And When It Rolls Out Next-Generation Inkjet Technology ()
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