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POP Workhorses

Diverse Market Demand

Part 2 of 4

By Gretchen A. Peck

Print service suppliers (PSPs) excelling in the point of purchase (POP) print market confide that it’s hardware flexibility—rather than throughput—that takes top priority. Speed is important, but the ability to print on both flexible and rigid materials takes precedent.

According to Kelli Ramirez, director of communications, Océ North America, the Océ Arizona large format flatbed printer series with UV-curing technology is among Océ’s most popular print engines for POP. These printers are based on a true flatbed design but also accommodate roll-fed media.

The latest model of the Océ Arizona Series—the Océ Arizona 350 GT—is equipped with a white ink option and reaches production speeds of up to 239 square feet per hour (sf/h).

Fujifilm Graphic Systems, U.S.A., Inc. recently sold an Inca Digital Onset to Burlington, WI-based HGI Company, LLC. The new investment supports the company’s large format business, specifically POP print.

HGI Company is creating a new division specializing in POP display and design. The new division’s president, Mike Draver, reports, "The Inca Onset is an excellent complement to our wide range of traditional printing equipment; we feel it will allow us to effectively provide our client base a single source for all of their graphic print and design needs."

Draver’s colleague, Craig Faust, president/CEO, HGI Company, concurs, "We feel the flexibility, technology, and overall performance of the Inca Onset are unequaled. This investment, in addition to our current capabilities and services, gives us a tremendous advantage over our competitors in this dynamic market segment."

Sam Sheppard, owner, Signs by Tomorrow, based in Reno, NV, equipped his company with a diverse mix of print equipment to handle a growing workload of traditional types of signage and an eclectic mix of POP presentations.

"We had two printers by Mimaki USA, Inc.—eight and five feet—but they were older, and we’d gotten our money’s worth out of them. So, I sold them on eBay," Sheppard recalls.

Sheppard then selected an HP Designjet 9000 series printer. The company also utilizes an HP Designjet Z3100 for when a job requires photographic-quality. But the printer receiving the most POP action is the shop’s EFI VUTEk QS3200, an UV-curable technology capable of printing up to 900 sf/h on substrates up to two inches thick. It can print in either four- or six-color modes, offers a special seventh channel for white ink, and images up to 1,080 dpi.

"We work with many casinos in the area," Sheppard explains. "We do a lot of backlits, half-cards, full-cards, and banners—the type of jobs that get changed out on a regular basis.

"With the VUTEk, we can print six half-cards on a four- by eight-foot sheet of 1-mil PVC. We often do eight to ten of those in a day," he estimates.

Roland DGA Corporation’s customers appreciate the print-and-cut nature of its solutions, which provide a seamless output to finishing workflow, according to Andrew Oransky, director of product management, Roland DGA Corporation.

"All of our Roland inkjet devices are used for POP production," Oransky explains. "However, our printer/cutters, including VersaCAMMs and SOLJETs, are very popular because of their ability to seamlessly print and contour cut window signs, decals, and labels, with minimal effort and time.

"The SOLJET PRO III XC-540 is especially popular due to its ability to print white ink," he adds. "Our new VersaUV LEC-300 printer/cutter is drawing enormous attention for POP, label, and packaging prototypes, due to its ability to print white ink in addition to CMYK on a vast array of materials—and then not only contour cut them, but to also add clear coat for gloss highlights or three-dimensional, textured effects, such as water droplets or crocodile skin."

Heather Kendle, director of marketing, Inca Digital says Inca Spyders are the company’s most popular printers for POP applications. "The Spyder is Inca Digital’s mid-range machine and comes in many varieties, suitable for a wide range of customers. It delivers quality printers for close viewing. While various ink choices are available in particular, the Spyder’s ability to print with white ink is second to none," Kendle explains.

"Our customers are very creative with the substrates they test and print on," she adds. "We have seen customers printing on wood, metal, glass, tiles, and blinds, for example."

Kendle asserts that the advent of digital flatbed technologies revolutionized the digital print industry—not simply by expanding the possibilities for substrate use, but by changing the market itself.

"Flatbed technology made the industry more responsive and reactive, with 24-hour turnaround becoming the normal standard," Kendle suggests. "It has also changed store advertising, enabling displays to be localized to an individual place or promotion. Shorter runs are possible, allowing budgets to be stretched over several campaigns and adapted regularly in response to customer feedback."

These radical improvements directly affect POP graphics. Next week learn about innovations in media and ink that continue to revolutionize the POP market.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, The Power of POP.

Nov2008, Digital Output

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