WhatTheyThink

Wide-Format & Signage Commentary & Analysis

Benson Integrated Marketing Solutions Creates W2P Store for COVID Signage and Safety Materials

Benson Integrated Marketing Solutions offers a wide variety of small- and wide-format printing, signage, apparel, and promotional materials to the multi-family home real estate market. Early adopters of web-to-print, Benson provides individual B2B sites for customers through which they can order customized materials, and has recently launched a B2C site for COVID-related products.

SpeedPro East Bay Declared Winner of the Coveted 2019 Project of the Year Award

The winner of SpeedPro’s 2019 Project of the Year Award, Alameda, Calif.’s SpeedPro East Bay, turned an emergency hospital corridor into a pathway showcasing the rich history of Oakland’s Highland Hospital.

Wide-Format, Signage, and Apparel Technology Update

This feature rounds up some of the highlights of our Technology Outlook article and webinar series specific to wide-format, signage, and textiles and apparel, offering up some product releases and trends from the first half of 2020.

The Factory NYC Takes Experiential Graphics to the Next Dimension

Brooklyn-based fabrication shop The Factory NYC is taking experiential graphics and retail displays to the next level with its new Massivit 3D printer, helping make big brands even bigger.

SpeedPro Launches InfoLnkX for Contactless Restaurant Menus—and More

In development even before COVID-19 hit, InfoLnkX by SpeedPro is an NFC-based chip that can be programmed to deliver digital, contactless menus to patrons’ phones right from restaurant signage or table decals. But the uses for InfoLnkX go far beyond restaurant applications.

TempDefend—Dynamic Digital Signage with Thermal Detection Enables “Protection as a Service”

Last week, 22Miles—a developer of digital signage and wayfinding systems—launched TempDefend, a highly customizable “protection as a service” solution that integrates dynamic digital signage with thermal cameras to scan visitors to a business or other establishment, generating an alert if the visitor’s temperature exceeds 99.5°.

The Sign Connection: Tips for Sign and Graphics Companies During COVID-19

Image360’s Burke Cueny discusses some of the ways that Image360 centers have helped their sign and display graphics customers during the pandemic, and offers tips and strategies as we move forward.  

Fine Dining: How Print Businesses Can Help Restaurants Reopen

As businesses start to reopen, they will have post-COVID print needs beyond safety and distancing signage. To follow up last week’s look at the current signage environment, Richard Romano identifies some of the unique print needs reopening restaurants are likely to have to complement their signage.

The Coming Signs of Summer: The Need for Post-COVID Signage

Sign shops were essential businesses when the crisis first hit and they will continue to be essential businesses as the country starts to reopen. Post-COVID signage will be important in both the short term and the long term, and there is no reason why it can’t be creatively designed, professionally printed, and seamlessly integrated into a business’s pre-existing signage and branding. Let’s have a look at what some local businesses have been doing signage-wise.

Cutting Remarks: Finishing Systems Offer New Tools, Greater Productivity, and More Application Options

A rundown of some of the new tools and features that have come to cutting tables for wide-format finishing. Laser finishing systems also offer unique options for cutting and etching.

Inkjet Makes a Grand Entry: axpanel Revolutionizes Garage Doors

Axpanel, a custom developer of inkjet printing and industrial automation for XY, rotary, and single-pass solutions, offers solutions for customized inkjet printing on sectional garage door panels.

The New Superwide Roll-to-Roll Printing Standard Has Been Set

The Acuity Ultra is a major step up in output, in both quality and productivity. Larger businesses and major luxury brands will be impressed by the machine’s extra width up to 5 meters, the option to print multiple rolls simultaneously, and its ability to print outstanding quality with no compromise on speed.

Come Sail Away: PhotoSails Takes Billboard Advertising Out to Sea

The thought of hopping on a sailboat and heading out to sea is an appealing one at the moment and thanks to a company called PhotoSails, sailing enthusiasts who buy their own boats can defray the cost of their investment.

Finding Hard Profit in Soft Signage

What was once a specialty niche for wide-format print service providers now is a “must-have technology” for producing more mainstream applications. WhatTheyThink contributor Mark Vruno looks at the current state of, and best practices for, soft signage.

FASTSIGNS of Saratoga Springs Flies High with New Maggie McFly’s Location

FASTSIGNS of Saratoga Springs won the Grand Prize at the Wide Format & Signage/FASTSIGNS Awards, held during the annual FASTSIGNS International Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., back in January. The six-year-old franchise won for interior and exterior signage for Maggie McFly’s ninth location at Albany’s Crossgates Mall.

2019 Annual Sign Franchise Review

Our annual review of the sign franchises finds that employee challenges and competition from commercial print businesses top the list of challenges, while expanding the range of applications tops the list of opportunities. In all, these four organizations generated $926 million in revenues in 2019.

Rockin’ the Boat: Applied Graphics Bring Dazzle to the High Seas

Have you ever tried installing high-end graphics on the hull of a boat while floating on a raft? Meet LuxWrap, a British company that has carved out a decidedly unique niche: high-end yacht graphics. They recently gold-foil-wrapped a yacht for hair extension brand Bellami—a project that was beset with all kinds of challenges.

Finding the Way(s): Signage Still Has a Place—Even Amid GPS Technologies

As output and substrate technologies continue to improve, wayfinding signage opportunities remain rife for commercial and wide-format printers in 2020 and beyond. However, to land these types of jobs, you first need to know with whom to engage.

Signs Get Smart: Dynamic Digital Signage Moves in Unusual Directions

The buzz around dynamic digital signage (DDS) may have died down, but DDS has continued to evolve and move in unique directions—even to the user’s own mobile phone.

Wide Format and Signage: Essential Services in the Time of Crisis

How are wide-format and signage providers coping with the COVID-19 crisis? Some are playing important roles in providing safety signage, while others still serve businesses that are classified as “essential.” In the first of a series of “check in” articles, we look at how the crisis has impacted the wide-format and signage market.

Covering All Bases: Applied Graphics Keep Evolving

As the options for applied graphics proliferate, it can be a challenge for print service providers to keep up, and yet it has never been more important to understand how a material will perform both on press and on its intended surface. As a result, consumables manufactures are playing a greater consultative role.

Upcoming Sign Expo Offers Hands-On Educational Opportunities

As of this morning, the ISA Sign Expo 2020 is still a go. This year, the show heads to Orlando April 1–4, with four days of educational sessions and its continuously expanding exhibition floor. We spoke with Brandon Hensley, ISA’s Chief Operating Officer, and Iain Mackenzie, ISA’s VP of Meetings & Events, for a preview of this year’s show.

New Owner Greg Ellison Gets Up to Speed at SpeedPro Denver

Last November, Greg Ellison took over as the new owner of the well-established SpeedPro Denver. Coming from outside the printing industry, he found the learning curve has been steep but enjoyable.

Ghent Workgroup Launches New Specification for Sign and Display

Wide-format printing often involves a phenomenon called “apparent resolution,” which can be quite different than a print’s actual resolution. An image designed to be viewed up close, like a photograph in a magazine or direct mail piece, will have a different apparent resolution—and thus resolution requirement—than one designed to be viewed from a long ways away. Taking apparent resolution into account was the raison d’êtreof a new specification for sign and display graphics just released by the Ghent Workgroup.

For Phoenix’s Custom Graphix, It’s a Banner Day

Since its founding in 2002, Phoenix, Ariz.’s Custom Graphix Signworks has cornered the market on that most commoditized of wide-format applications: banners. We spoke with Mladen Mike Mirkovic, founder and principal of Custom Graphix.

Direct Objects: Thinking—and Printing—Outside the Box

One of the most exciting growth areas in print today is direct-to-object (DtO) printing, but challenges of ink adhesion, transport, and feeding abound. I spoke with Peter Baldwin, Director of Marketing for East Dorset, Vt.’s Engineered Printing Solutions (EPS), about some of the issues—and opportunities—involved in direct-to-object printing.

Good Chemistry: Wide-Format Inks Continue to Evolve—Part 1 of 2

Whether it be for production inkjet, packaging, wide format, or industrial printing, inks are evolving at a rapid pace to enable the fast-growing range of print applications. This article will offer a look at some of the recent developments specific to wide-format inks—and even more specific to solvent/eco-solvent and UV inks.

Replicate the Real Thing

One of the fastest-growing applications in wide-format and industrial printing is textures. While a lot has been written about how these kinds of materials are printed, not much has been said about how these textures are created. This article looks at multi configuration scanners from METIS, used to capture high-quality, photorealistic reproductions of existing surfaces.

Executive Q&A: Massivit 3D’s Erez Zimerman

Lod, Israel’s Massivit 3D was founded in 2013, and in the past six years has made a substantial impact with its 3D printing technology. Erez Zimerman joined Massivit 3D four years ago as VP of Global Sales, and was appointed CEO in May 2019. We caught up with Zimerman at the recent PRINTING United show in Dallas.

Wide-Format 2019: Where Are We Now?

As 2019 winds down, we take a look at the current state of wide-format printing. Where have we come, where are we now, and where are we going?

Know the Signs: A Non-Print Signage Primer

Print businesses have been expanding into signage by leaps and bounds—but print signage is only the tip of the iceberg. “Signs” comprise a lot of different manufacturing products and materials.

The RMX Network: United They Grow

The RMX Network is an alliance of more than 100 independent North American wide-format print service providers. It’s not a franchise, but rather an affiliation of like-minded companies that band together to support each other and help solve problems. We spoke with President Rick Bosworth to learn more about their unique business model.

The Moving Canvas: Wrapping “Kings” Turn Vehicle Graphics Into Art

Last Fall, Avery Dennison held its Wrap Like a King (WLAK) competition, which honored some of the best and most creative vehicle graphics projects. We spoke with one of the judges and some of the regional winners to get some insight into the vehicle graphics design process.

Five Alive: 5G Technology Will Transform Sign & Display

What is 5G and what is its impact on sign and display graphics likely to be? Richard Romano spoke with Dexter Johnson, author of a recent ISA white paper called “5G in Signage Technology” about the technology and the advantages of 5G and its potential applications in sign and display.

The Continued Evolution of Wide Format at PRINTING United

What was new at PRINTING United on the wide-format front? In this feature, Richard Romano runs down a handful of announcements and other items that caught his interest.

Promotional Products May Offer More Luxury Than You Think

When you think of promotional products, what comes to mind? Branded hats and pens? Tote bags? Many printers may not see these items going with their clients’ high-end image, so they may not give these complementary offerings a fair shot. But promotional items can also include high-end luxury items used for C-level executives, influencers, and corporate events. Some, like this company’s products, even offer the trendy element of sustainability.

Wide Receivers: A Flatbed Applications Photo Gallery

In this pictorial feature, we round up some unique and creative products and applications created on UV flatbed wide-format printers.

Latest Sign Code Court Decision May Have Serious Implications for Billboard and Sign Industry

Two weeks ago, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s decision in the case of Thomas v. Bright that the government cannot distinguish between on-premise and off-premise signage because it is an unconstitutional content-based distinction. We spoke to David Hickey, VP Advocacy, for the International Sign Association (ISA) about the decision and some of the potential ramifications.

Don’t Call It Wallpaper: “Wallcoverings” Are Just One Aspect of Décor

Digital wide-format printing and new substrates are changing the face of wall décor, both in commercial and residential spaces. In this feature, we look at some unique applications and detail some prevailing trends.

Summer Stroll: The Signs Around Us

What kinds of signage and display graphics are in fashion? You don’t need elaborate market research surveys to find out—sometimes all you need to do is get out of the office and have a look around. Just doing a little recon can often generate ideas for new product areas to expand into.

Surface Tension: Specialty Substrates Are Proliferating, but Printing on Them Has Its Challenges

"Inkjet devices can print on any surface" is a common industry talking point, but the practical reality is a bit more complicated, involving the chemical and physical interplay of inks and substrates. This article offers an inkjet printing reality check.

SAi Launches Augmented Reality App for Signmakers

SAi’s new VirtualSign is an augmented reality (AR) app that lets signmakers show clients how a sign will look in situ before it is printed and installed. We spoke wth SAi’s Gudrun Bonte, Vice President of Product Management, who oversaw the development of the app.

Beware of Dog: Automation and Wide-Format Printing

Automation for wide-format printing can encompass a lot of different processes, from automatic file processing, to robotics, even to database management. Where once wide format was deemed too “artisanal” or “craft-like” to be automated, the times are changing. After all, as competition in the wide-format segment continues to heat up, automation becomes a key element in controlling costs. We’ll take a look at the current state of automation for wide-format printing.

Let There Be More Light: LED Signage Hits the Big—and Small—Time

Advances in LED technology—and of course lower costs—have enabled LED signage to move indoors, and are even replacing LCD-based dynamic digital signage (DDS) for many applications.

Avery Dennison Launches New Car Wrap Visualizer

To help vehicle wrap installers better help customers with color change vehicle wraps, Avery Dennison has launched an online Car Wrap Visualizer that shows how a particular vinyl film color looks on a representative sample of vehicle types. We spoke with Avery Dennison’s Abby Monnot, who helped develop the tool.

Do Customers Know What “Wide Format” Printing Is?

What’s in a name? Does the term “wide format” mean anything to today’s print buyers? Avoiding industry jargon in sales and marketing efforts—and especially in one’s online presence—can help attract potential customers who may not be hip to our jive.

FESPA 2019: Beer, Brats, and Dots

FESPA 2019 attracted attendees on a global scale under the theme of an “Explosion of Possibilities.” In partnership with Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends, the event’s organizers collected feedback from the 2018 Print Census research to determine key areas of focus for the 2019 event.

2019 Sign and Display Graphics Franchise Review

In WhatTheyThink/Printing News’ Annual Sign and Display Franchise Review, Cary Sherburne takes a look at the major franchises—Alliance Franchise Brands, FASTSIGNS, Signarama, and SpeedPro—as well as the non-franchise Sign Biz network. She analyzes how they fared in the past year, as well as where they see growth opportunities in the future. Franchise center growth across all the networks has been strong, and will likely remain so. What is driving it?

ISA Sign Expo 2019 Wraps Up in Vegas

Some “quick hits” from the Sign Expo show floor, including the winners of the ISA Innovation Awards, some new product announcements, and more.

Sign Expo 2019 Opens in Las Vegas

Old and new sign production technologies were on display this week in Las Vegas at the 75th Annual ISA Sign Expo and, as an additional indication  of how the disparate pars of the printing industry are concverging, ISA announced that as of next year the Sign Expo will colocate with Impressions Expo, formerly the Imprinted Sportswear Show.

Signs.com and Ferrari Color: The Inside Story

The acquisition of Ferrari Color by Signs.com caught our attention. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Signs.com cofounder and chief operating officer Nelson James to get the inside story.

Technology Evolution Supports New Priorities in Print Signage 

The latest research from Smithers Pira identifies five key trends underpinning the shifting dynamics of demand and profitability in the market for printed signage: increasing automation, soft signage, the changing retail landscape, the evolution of Asian retail, and competition from digital signage.

Windigo Signs Takes Soft Signage to the Next Level

Printed textiles are rapidly replacing vinyl and rigid materials for signage, and Tempe, Ariz.’s Next Level Signs has leapt into so-called “soft signage.” Founder Mark Baldwin has launched a sister company Windigo Signs to offer a robust, custom-made, and weather-resistant alternative for outdoor soft signage mounting.

ISA Sign Expo Heads Back to Vegas

ISA Sign Expo 2019 heads to Las Vegas later this month, with four days of educational sessions and its continuously expanding exhibition floor. We spoke with Brandon Hensley, ISA’s Chief Operating Officer, and Iain Mackenzie, ISA’s VP of Meetings & Events, about what’s new this year.

World on the Windows: The Changing Face of Window Graphics

Window graphics are a growing subset of wide-format printing, and are popping up in more and more locations, both public and private, and new films and materials are making window graphics more versatile and eye-catching than ever. Printing is the easy part; it’s installation that can cause problems, and eat into your profitability. Here are some dos and don’t for working with window graphics.

Wide-Format Printing: Still a Compelling Business Opportunity and Investment Category

As we put the final touches on our Printing Outlook 2019 report, based on our Winter 2018–2019 Business Outlook survey, this article highlights a few of the findings specific to wide-format and specialty printing. Is it still a compelling business opportunity? And what are print businesses’ wide-format investment plans?

EFI Connect at 20: Perpetual Change

EFI is turning 30 this year, and the EFI Connect user conference turns 20. It’s been a rollercoaster of changes in technology, in printing, and in the culture at large. Cary Sherburne and Richard Romano recap this year’s event.

Reed Between the Lines: Evolving Sign Codes Impact Exterior Signage—and Potentially More

One of the most important issues concerning the production and installation of exterior signage is the ever-evolving sign codes and regulations. The landmark 2015 SCOTUS decision in Reed v. the Town of Gilbert is still impacting city planners, and, in turn, signmakers and their clients. What should PSPs know about sign codes? What are the latest issues regarding sign regulations? And why might vehicle graphics be the next frontier for sign codes?

Flatland: What’s New(s) and What’s Next for Flatbed Wide-Format Printers?

It’s been nearly 20 years since the advent of the flatbed wide-format printer. They’ve come a long way, baby; what’s new with the technology and where do they go from here?

Wide-Format 2019: What’s Next?

As we head into 2019 and toward 2020, what are the emerging and accelerating trends in wide-format and specialty printing? The buzzword is “convergence,” which will only accelerate, but what other forces are changing the nature of applied graphics?

Wide Format 2018: What Kind of Day Has It Been?

What were the big trends in wide-format and specialty printing in 2018? It’s been a year of convergence and while shops that were likely to transition to wide-format have largely done so, the applications that can be produced are constantly changing, as new materials and new inks hit the market. Let’s have a look at what’s been happening.

Data: Wide-Format Still Front and Center

Wide-format is here with a vengeance. One webinar provided a great summary of data on the growth and opportunities in wide-format graphics.

As Industry Convergence Continues, Xplor International and ISA Colocate Events

The convergence continues: the International Sign Association and Xplor International have announced that in April 2019, the Sign Expo 2019 and XPLOR19 will colocate.  

Grant Graphics’ Print & Cut Conference Offered Wide-Format 101—and 102—for Northeast Printers

Earlier this month, print shop owners and managers from around the Northeast journeyed to Grant Graphics in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for a day-long program of wide-format educational sessions and equipment demonstrations.

Wide-Format Graphics Make the Magnificent Mile More Magnificent

After a decade in the ad agency world, Shira Kollins took her graphic design and production background and launched SpeedPro Chicago. By taking an active role in local business associations—and being “pleasantly persistent” when it comes to sales and marketing—she has built a business creating cutting-edge display graphics for some of Chicago’s biggest retailers and restaurants.

Apocalypse Postponed: The State of Retail

Rumors of retail’s death have been greatly exaggerated (to coin a phrase). But there is no doubt that it is changing. We look at how it is changing, and what that means for POP/retail graphics providers.

Edifice Rex: Vomela Conquers the Building Wrap

The Vomela Companies, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., started in 1947 doing promotional product printing. Now, 71 years later, the company has expanded through both organic growth and acquisition to produce retail, POS, décor, event, and fleet graphics for a wide variety of local and national brands and venues. Their most recent project: wrapping 3M’s 14-story corporate headquarters.

Leaving Las Vegas: Recapping the SGIA Expo

The final SGIA Expo was a culmination of all the specialty graphics innovations of the past decade or two—with a few signposts (digitally printed, of course) pointing to the future.

SGIA Expo 2018 Marks the End of an Era—But the Start of an Exciting New One

The SGIA Expo 2018 opened yesterday to large crowds and a completely full exhibition hall. Our recap of Day 1 looks at where SGIA President and CEO Ford Bowers sees the organization and the industry going, and highlights a handful of new product announcements.

For Rocken Graphics, Business Is On the Move

Gibsonton, Fla.’s Rocken Graphics has carved out a unique niche among print service providers: signage and tent graphics for traveling carnivals. We spoke with Kenny Smith, founder of Rocken Graphics, about how he got into this market, as well as how his product offerings extend beyond simple printed graphics.

Wide-Format and Specialty Graphics at PRINT 18

PRINT has not traditionally been a top venue for wide-format or specialty printing equipment announcements, but does showcase the latest technologies and the applications that can be produced on them, giving commercial printers concrete ideas for exploring new business opportunities.

Chicago’s Graphic Alliance Makes a Meal Out of Restaurant Signage

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.

Success with Specialty Printing: Changing the Mindset

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.

Technical Printing on the Desktop

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.

Launched During the Great Recession, SpeedPro Marin Realized There Was “No Place to Go But Up”

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 Take the Spotlight at FESPA Berlin

Textiles and corrugated were the two major themes of this year’s FESPA Global Print Expo. Here are some quick hits from the show.

FESPA Day 2: Whetting the Palate...

WhatTheyThink is live at FESPA Berlin 2018 on Day 2 of the show. Welcome to the concept of the microfactory.

FESPA 2018 Opens in Berlin

The FESPA Global Print Expo 2018 kicked off in Berlin this morning. Here is a quick teaser of some early show highlights.

Wide Format: Now and Venn

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.

Moving Pictures: Carbon Wraps Brings Art Alive

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.

A Wrap to Remember: Kennickell Group Turns Harbour Town Lighthouse Plaid

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.

Post-Reed, Communities Reevaluate their Sign Codes

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 Traditional Meets the Technological at Sign Expo 2018

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.

HP Announces New Product Family Featuring Latex Rigid Technology

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.

For SpeedPro Imaging Apex, Networking Is One of the Keys to Success

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.

Expand Beyond Signage at the Upcoming ISA Sign Expo

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.

Graphic Communications and Specialty Printing Mean BIG Opportunities!

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.

Open Wide: The State of Wide-Format Printing

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.

This Point Forward: A Look Ahead at 2018

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?

2017: A Look In the Rear-View Mirror

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.

Apocalypse Soon? Retail’s Troubles and What They Mean for POP Printers

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?

Printing Ladies of the Night at Roland’s “Image Imaginarium”

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.

Differentiating Your Business with Wide Format

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.

“Industrial Printing” Takes Center Stage at SGIA Expo 2017

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.

Driving Business Growth: How Techniprint Re-Invented Its Business

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.

Winds of Change: SGIA Expo to Become PRINT United; New “Mega-Show” to Launch in 2019

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.

The Surprisingly Large Promotional and Personalized Goods Printing Market

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.

SGIA Expo 2017 Heads to The Big Easy

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.

That Can-Do Spirit: New Trends in Beer Consumption Open Up a Can of Opportunities—Part 2 of 2

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.

That Can-Do Spirit: New Trends in Beer Consumption Open Up a Can of Opportunities—Part 1 of 2

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.

Know Your Codes: As Signage Becomes a Hotter Commodity, Printers Can Offer Regulatory Guidance

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.

Making Tracks: Signage, QR Codes, and Customer Journey Analytics

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.

Six Big Mistakes That Aspiring Wide-Format Printers Can Make

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.

Specialty Printing and Events: Made for Each Other

Commercial printing is evolving into specialty printing, and opportunities abound—if you know where and how to look for them.

The Changing Specialty Printing Market: New Opportunities Big and Small

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.

FESPA 2017 Showcases European Wide-Format Introductions

Last week, FESPA 2017 drew attendees from across Europe and beyond to see the latest in wide-format and specialty printing technology and applications.

Wide-Format: Shelter From the Coming “Third Wave”?

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.

Print Is the “New Media” at ISA Sign Expo

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.

Changes Coming to EPA’s Hazardous Waste Regulations

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.

Print To Play an Expanded Role at Upcoming ISA Sign Expo

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.

Fashion Fabrics Present Boom Opportunity For Digital Printers

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.

Rocky Mountain High: Canon Debuts the UVgel-Based Colorado

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.

Idealliance’s XCMYK Specification Improves Expanded Gamut Printing

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.

SGIA Becomes an Association Partner with InPrint; Interview with SGIA President Ford Bowers

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.

Top 10 Best New Business Opportunities

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.

EFI Reinforces Its Commitment to Inkjet at Connect 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.

Board Meetings: 2017’s Flatbed Printer Roundup

Our annual rundown of the current flatbed wide-format printer landscape.

Rolling Out the New Year - Rundown of Rollfed Wide-Format Systems

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.

Wide-Format and Specialty Graphics - What's Next in 2017?

Last week, we took a wide-format look back at 2016. What lies ahead for wide-format and specialty graphics printing in 2017?

That Was the Year That Was: A Wide-Format Look Back at 2016

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?

Live and In Person: Offline Marketing Strategies for Specialty Graphics Printers

Advice abounds for using social and other electronic media for marketing, but don’t ignore some “old school” offline marketing strategies.

A Trio of Hot Wide Format Application Areas for 2017

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.

Agfa 3D Lens Technology Adds a New Dimension to Printed Signage

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.

Wide-Format and Specialty Printing: New Opportunities for In-Plants

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.

All Projects Great and Small: Benicia, Calif.’s ColorZone Helps Small Businesses Grow

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.

SGIA 2016 Wrapup: This—and Next—Year’s Models

A collection of new products and product previews that were seen on the show floor at last month’s SGIA Expo.

SGIA Expo 2016 Kicks Off in Las Vegas

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.

Automation and Wide-Format: Where Are We?

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?

SGIA Expo 2016 Heads Back to Las Vegas

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.

Printing Industries Alliance Hosts Wide-Format Printing Panel

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.

The Cube-Shaped Canvas

In the latest installment of our occasional Wide-Format 101 series, we offer a general overview of wall, floor, and window graphics.

Mid-Year Progress Report: The 2016 Story So Far

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 bluemedia Takes Unique Approach to Large Format Workflow

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.

The New OSHA Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Rule Is Final

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.

For This Wrap Cup Master, Competition is Education

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.

Wide-Format 101: One for the Cutters

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.

Wide-Format at Drupa—Wrapping It Up

Week two of drupa brought few major announcements, but wide-format offerings were hardly inconspicuous.

Drupa 2016 from a Wide-Format Perspective

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.

Lack of Speed Kills: Lessons from Durst’s Retail 2020

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?

The Latest Latex Wideformat Printers

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.

Software for Wide-Format: Beyond the Creative Cloud

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.

ISA Sign Expo: Beyond Signage

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.

New Avenues of Success: Landaal Packaging Systems Thrives On Adversity

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.

Sustainability and Wide-Format—It’s Not Just About Substrates

SGIA’s Marci Kinter offers a comprehensive set of environmental sustainability tips and strategies that go beyond merely choosing the right substrate.

The Signs Are Good for Next Month’s ISA Sign Expo

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.

A Closer Look at Digital Dye-Sublimation Printing

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?

Textile Printing 101

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.

Beyond-the-Box Thinking at Canon Solutions America Anniversary Event

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.

Meet SGIA President and CEO Ford Bowers—Part 2

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.

Meet SGIA President and CEO Ford Bowers—Part 1

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.

The Road to Wideformat Commoditization

Commoditization has come creeping into wide-format and specialty graphics, but does it mean the end of profitability?

Wideformat Regulatory Outlooks for 2016

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.

Inkjet Ecosystems: Notes From EFI Connect 2016

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.

Wide-Format Quick Hits for January

Herewith a handful of recent new announcements that caught your Section Editor’s eye.

What’s New(s) In Flatbed Wide-Format Printers?

Our annual rundown of the current flatbed wide-format printer landscape.

What’s New(s) in Roll-to-Roll Printers?

Our annual rundown of the current rollfed wide-format printer landscape.

Wideformat 2016: The Road Ahead

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?

That Was the Year That Was: A Wide-Format Look Back at 2015

What were the top growth areas for wide-format in 2015? What applications are ascendant? What technologies are emerging and evolving?

Wide Format: Evolving Applications and the Supply Chain

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.

Show Your Work: A Plethora of On- and Offline Channels Lets Specialty Printers Strut Their Stuff

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.

Off the Wall at Comic-Con

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.

For SpeedPro of Central New York, Display Graphics Are Not Purely Academic

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.

SGIA 2015: The New Fall Collection

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.

SGIA Expo 2015 Opens to Large Crowds—and the Future of Retail Graphics

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.

SGIA 2015 Kicks off in Atlanta with Educational Sessions Galore

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).

Dye-Sublimation Printing Helps the USA Synchronized Swim Team Swim In Ink

St. Louis’ Triflare specializes in racewear for triathlon participants, swimmers, and other athletes—all produced digitally using dye-sublimation printing.

The Cassavetes Project Opens at Canon Hollywood

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.

Wide-Format’s Expanded Presence at Graph Expo 2015

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.

Five Steps to Wide Format Growth

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.

Wide-Format: A Growing Presence at Graph Expo

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.

Pivotal Moments: A History Lesson

Dan Marx, VP–Markets & Technologies at the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association looks back at pivotal moment in the history of the SGIA Expo.

“Experience Epson” Event Showcases a Wide Variety of Tech

“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.

Wooden It Be Nice? Sacramento’s ARB Digital Specializes in Printing On Unique Substrates

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.

Sustainability Reality Check: It’s a Journey, Not a Destination

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.

2015: The Current State of the Industrial Printing Community

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?

The Great, Outdoors: Attention to Detail Goes a Long Way Toward Creating Effective Outdoor Graphics

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.

The Big Wide Word: Marketing Tips for Wide-Format Shops

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?

Signs and Wonders: Digital Begins to Transform Indoor and Outdoor Displays

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.

Sew What? The New Skill Sets for Wide-Format

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?

Magic Bus

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.

The Current State of the Graphics & Sign Industry

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?

Today’s the Day: OSHA HCS Compliance Update

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.

Challenges In Sizing the Sign and Display Market

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.

ISA 2015: Trends and Opportunities

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.

Point/Counterpoint: The Business Case For (and Against) Digital Signage

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.

Growth Opportunities: A Conversation with SpeedPro Imaging President Boris Katsnelson

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.

ISA’s Sign Expo Goes Beyond "Sign and Display"

The International Sign Association’s Sign Expo took place last week in Las Vegas, NV. Richard Romano files his observations from the show.

HP’s New Single-Pass Printer Portfolio

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.

Know Your Wide Format Inks!

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.

Sustainable and Green: Do I Still Need to Worry About Compliance?

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.

Lla Llama

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.”

ISA Gears Up for Biggest Sign Expo Ever

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.

There Goes the Neighborhood: How To Cope with Commoditization in Wide-Format Printing

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?

A Good Problem to Have? Managing Capacity When Volume Peaks

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 Sends Print-for-Pay Providers Back to the Drawing Board

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.

Relevant Regulatory Revisions for 2015

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.

Your Niche Or Mine?

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.

Retail Trends in Wide Format

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?

EFI Connect and the Imaging of Things

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.

What to Strive For in 2015 (And a Plea for Help)

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.

What Is Wide-Format?

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!).

SGIA Webinar Considers Web-to-Print for Wide-Format

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.

This Is the New Year and I Have No Resolutions

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.

Wide-Format Roll-to-Roll Printer Roundup

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?

What Kind of Day Has it Been?

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.

Business Goes Swimmingly for Digital Dye-Sublimation Printer

Epson’s beachwear “fashion show” highlights the possibilities of digital dye-sublimation fabric printing, and how it could change fashion design.

Rapid Digital Press Maps Out Wide-Format Success

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.

2014 SGIA Expo: Finding new Business Opportunities and Areas 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 Mini-Expo Hits the Spa City

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.

A Wide-Format Digital Print Perspective from Graph Expo

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.

SGIA Recap II: Chalk it Up to Experience

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.

High-Wire Acts: Adventures at the 2014 SGIA Expo (Part 1)

SGIA Expo exceeded virtually everyone’s expectations. In Part 1 of our show coverage we look at some of the major hardware introductions.

7 Reasons to Look Forward to Next Week’s SGIA Expo

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.

Roland to Kick Off First Ever User Conference

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.

An Opinionated Preview of the 2014 SGIA Expo

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.

Digital Should Drive Service Transformation

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.

The ABCs of DDS: A Digital Signage Primer

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?

Re-Examining the Inherent Benefits of Wide-Format Digital (Part II)

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.

Memjet Looks Back At Its First Generation Printheads—and Ahead to Generation Next

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?

Big Points: A “This Point Forward” Approach to Wide-Format Printing

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.

Re-Examining the Inherent Benefits of Wide-Format Digital (Part I)

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.

Liquid Meddle: Digital Inkjet Makes Inroads in Industrial Printing

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.

The Search for a Wide-Format Silver Bullet?

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”?

HP Scales Up Its PageWide Technology

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.

Chasing Bottlenecks in Wide-Format Digital

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.

Inkjet’s Irresistible Rise Is Showcased at FESPA Digital 2014

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.”

Notes from a Safari: Nine Big Mistakes That Would-Be Wide-Format Printers Can Make

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.

Wide-Format Graphics Community Charts another Strong Year

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.

ISA Sign Expo Showcases Dynamic Evolution of Sign Solutions

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 Moving to Digital

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.

Signs of the Times—and Times of the Signs: Countdown to the International Sign Expo 2014

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.

Wide-Format: Pain Points & Opportunities

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.

...But Is It Art?

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.

Phoenix’s AZ Pro Uses Vehicle and Fleet Graphics to Keep on Truckin’

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.

Wide-Format: Understanding the Hourglass

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.

Getting Into Wide-Format – A Commercial Printer’s Blueprint for Success

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.

Interstate Graphics Feels the Heat with New Thermoforming System

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.

John Roberts Looks to HP Indigo 10000 to bolster digital print offerings

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.

SGIA Expo 2013 Review: Continuing Strong Display Graphics Demand, with a Focus on Production

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.

SGIA Wraps Up Successful Orlando Expo

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.

SGIA Highlights the "Shining Star" of the Printing Industry—Day 1: The Quickening

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 Textile Inkjet Printing: On a Roll

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.

As Interior Décor Experiences Record Growth, Smart PSPs Seize Opportunity

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 .

68 Great Wide-Format Opportunities (and One Donut)

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 Goes Mainstream at Print 13

Wide-format printing has always been an endeavor for the highly creative, and it would be hard to find someone more creative than Armstrong.

Investigating Wide-Format Markets & Products

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.

Digital Growth Ignites Innovation

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.

Getting Started in Wide Format Inkjet

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 2013 Show Review: Moving Beyond Wide-Format Inkjet

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.

Wide-Format Gets Bigger (Will You?)

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.

Large Format Plays at PIP Printing in Peoria

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 Continues on Journey to Capture Valuable Wide-Format Application Output

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.

xpedx Goes Wide with Series of Summits

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.

Wide Format Graphics: A Critical Part of the Communications Mix

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.

Road Trip: A Visit to EFI’s Inkjet Solutions Facility

This is Part I of what will be an occasional series of manufacturer “Experience Center” visits.

Electronic Billboards in the U.S.: Profit Is the Main Motivator of Growth

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.

xpedx Road Show Offers Data and Demos for Prospective Wide-Format Print Providers

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.”

Wide-Format: Equipment & Financial Takeaways

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".

Precious Fluids: Wide-Format Inks Are Opening Up New Applications for Graphics Providers

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.

New Product Announcements at ISA 2013

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.

The Shows Must Go On! Next Stop: FESPA London

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.

Efficiency & Innovation in Wide-Format

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.

Inkjet International Days

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.

With DDS, Graphics Professionals Sink Their Teeth Into Electronic Signage

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.

Wide-Format Inkjet Printing: A Transition to Higher Utilization and Productivity

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.

The Countdown to the International Sign Expo 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: Many Communities, One Process

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.

Countdown to the International Sign Expo

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.

Latex-Ink Wide-Format Graphics Printers Drive Market Growth

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.

The Grandest Printers of All

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.

Digital Wallcoverings Transform Interior Décor

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.

Lessons from a Wide-Format Veteran

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.

Moving Pictures: Vehicle Wraps Take the Wide-Format Show On the Road

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.

If You Were a Specialty Imager

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.

January Hymn: Looking Backward and Forward

Richard looks at the printing shipment trends that happened over the previous year, and provides a bit of analysis.

Is Print the True Green Technology?

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.

Wide Format Inkjet Graphics-Determining US Retail Pricing

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.

Specialty Graphics: Both Alive and Kicking

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.

Applications that Stick: Magnetic Media

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.

Look Into the Light: Miracle Cures On The Horizon

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.

SGIA Recap: EFI Leverages New Technologies to Boost Productivity, Image Quality

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.

The Strength of Specialty Graphics

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.

That Was the Expo That Was: SGIA Recap

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.

Viva Las Vegas: Getting the Most Out of the SGIA Expo

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.

Following the Money in Wide-Format Digital

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.

Display Graphics on Display at Upcoming Graph Expo

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.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Wide-Format Printer: Learn to Think Creatively

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

Five Essential Truths About Wide-Format Inkjet

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.

Beyond Paper: New Wide-Format Substrate Options

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.

Wide-Format Flatbed Printers Are On a Roll

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.

Dark Clouds and Silver Linings: The Latest Economic Data May Be Gloomy...But Data are Not Destiny

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.

Navigating the RIP Tide: Print Workflow Software Comes in All Shapes, Sizes, and Capabilities

Richard provides some features and issues to keep a special eye out for when looking at RIP's for wide-format printing.

End Game: In Wide-Format Printing, Finishing is Where the Real Work Begins

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.

Beyond the Pale: White Inks Offer Unique Wide-Format Challenges and Applications

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.

Wide-Format Printing Presents Unique Sustainability Challenges, Opportunities

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?

Promoting Your Large Format Business in a Digital World

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.

Looking for a Big Opportunity? Think Large Format!

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 Expands Grand Format Business

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.

Epson Launches NextGen Wide Format Printer, New Branding

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 Technology Goes Mainstream

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: More Than Ink on Paper

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.

Making a Big Impression Trends in Large Format Printing

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.

Environmental Aspects of Printing Inks

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.

Print: Driving Excitement at the Point of Purchase

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.

Mobile Meets Outdoor Advertising and Signage

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.

IPEX – A Digital Printing Show

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.

How to kill inkjet

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.

Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Printing Industry

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.

A Buyer’s Guide for Inkjet Presses

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.

Behind the Agfa Acquisition of Gandinnovations

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.

Moving Inkjet Technology into the Future

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.

Progress in Prepress Was a Keynote of Print 09

"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.