Wide Format Commentary & Analysis
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.
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.
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.
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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