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Producing Big Print

Hardware Devices for Grand Format

Part 1 of 3

By Gretchen A. Peck

The large format outdoor graphics market holds strong despite economic constraints. As other forms of advertising faltered, marketers turned to a selective, targeted, and impacting means to convey messages. And in bustling urban regions, nothing attracts more attention than stunning building sized print.

While the spectrum of print engines equipped to produce building wraps was at one time narrow, today there are an assortment of devices well-suited for this specialized application.

Udi Nachmany, application and systems development manager, Scitex division, Hewlett-Packard (HP). notes that three of HP Scitex’s print engines "were designed with building wraps as a primary target application." The HP Scitex XL1500 printer is known for its potential for a fast return on investment. The HP Scitex XP5100 printer, a UV-curable solution suited for both indoor and outdoor applications; and the HP Scitex XP5300 printer, a five-meter UV printer with unprecedented ink coverage, as popular printers used in the production of building wraps.

Mutoh America, Inc. offers several models of the ValueJet line including the ValueJet 1614, 1604, and 1304, which feature Eco-Ultra inks with improved scratch resistance—needed for maintaining image quality for outdoor graphics and signage.

The ValueJet 1608 Hybrid is an adept and environmentally friendly solution, which enables print service suppliers to forego costly ventilation systems and disposal of harmful volatile organic compounds, says Brian Phipps, director of sales, Mutoh. The solution potentially enables print service providers (PSPs) to reduce costs associated with media, as specialty and coated substrates are not required.

"The Jeti five-meter series is the most efficient product our customers found for producing building wraps. Either the Jeti 5024 or the JetSpeed XL 5048 is a great solution," notes Cory Brock, director of marketing, Gandinnovations.

"Five-meter models allow customers to print up to 16 feet wide, which eliminates some stitching and sewing, compared to a building wrap completed on a traditional three-meter printer," asserts Brock.

In addition to speed and resolution improvements, ink manufacturers introduced new solvent and UV ink sets with a durability guarantee, even for harsh urban conditions.

According to Chuck Dourlet, VP, marketing, EFI VUTEk the majority of building wraps are produced on solvent printers, but he foresees a transition to UV. "The five-meter VUTEk GS5000r is going to become a mainstay for building wraps," he predicts. "The speed of the GS5000r is more than 3,000 square feet per hour—faster than the more traditional five-meter products on the market."

"The GS5000r is not only a fast billboard printer, but a high-quality point of purchase printer. The standard resolution on our GS5000r is 600 dpi, but it goes up to a true 1,000 dpi, and features a variable drop that goes from 12 to 24 picoliters, depending on the print. You make that decision when you RIP the file," he says.

Choosing the correct hardware for grand format print, especially building wraps, is dependent on many factors. Width, efficiency, and productivity are all important. The next two parts in our series on building wraps focus on PSPs in the field designing, outputting, and installing building wraps and other grand format outdoor print.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Nov2009, Digital Output

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