Much of the work done in sign shops today is traditional—banners, trade show graphics, vehicle wraps—but some of the most promising growth opportunities are more specialized. For example, introducing graphics to substrates like fabrics, tile, wood, glass, metal, and other exotic materials is growing in popularity. The past year produced several new specialized print solutions.
Print and cut technologies are one specialized segment. Roland DGA Corporation introduced five new wide format solutions within the span of a single year, including the SOLJET PRO III XC-540 printer/cutter.
"Roland’s integrated print-cut technology is unique in the industry because it facilitates both digital printing and contour cutting on one device through one seamless workflow," says Rick Scrimger, VP and GM, Roland Color Products Division. "This innovation is widely embraced by the market and can dramatically increase a shop’s productivity. Additionally, Roland pioneered many other innovative features and applications—like the new Eco-Sol Max white ink—that enable our users to maximize their profit with a wide range of offerings."
Printers able to create graphics on ceramics and wood are another big draw. Durst Image Technology US, LLC recently unveiled the Rho SP60 at drupa 2008. "It is the next product in our industrial printing, single-pass platform," shares Christopher Howard, VP, sales and marketing, Durst. "Based on the proven Gamma 60 single-pass ceramic printer, the Rho SP60 utilizes UV inkjet technology that can be deployed in the wood laminating industry. These machines run at a linear speed of 95 feet per minute and are highly focused in their applications."
"Durst introduced a number of new printing platforms over the past 12 months in our flatbed, roll-to-roll, and industrial printing categories," notes Howard. "The award-winning Rho 800 was introduced in the U.S. at SGIA in 2007, and proves to be a very successful printer for companies that have invested in it."
To print directly to fabrics, Seiko I Infotech, Inc. introduced its new ColorTextiler 64DS in March of this year.
"We engineer our printers so they are easy to use and install, have faster print speeds, and are generally a good value for the money," explains Trish Kinman, marketing manager, Seiko. "ColorTextiler, our four color dye-sub fabric printer, prints fast at true 720 dpi, uses less ink per print, and produces a wide range of fabric output for customers."
Another fabric compatible device derives from Ganndinnovation’s Jeti family of printers. Three new models were introduced within the Jeti brand this year—the NanoJet, AquaJet, and Jetstream.
"Gandinnovations is at the forefront on new technology in wide format digital printers by designing new products that meet the need of the marketplace," suggests Tom Reilly, VP, marketing and advertising, Gandinnovations.
The new printers offer more targeted attributes, according to Reilly, who says that the NanoJet—a six color UV-curable printer that offers up to 800 dpi resolution—is capable of photo-realistic print, while the Jetstream offers super-fast throughput. He describes the AquaJet as the first 3.2-meter, water-based, direct to fabric device that prints, slits, and seals fabric.
Innovative solutions created by digital printers on unique substrates—glass, wood, and tile—should become a mainstay in the graphic arts market. Manufacturers are certainly targeting this segment with success in mind.
Don’t miss the August issue of Digital Output for a comprehensive article on wide format printers and our annual chart, featuring an overview of technologies within the 24- to 100-inch wide range.