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Grand Prints, Wider Printers

The Right Printer for the Job

Part 2 of 4

By Thomas Franklin

Not every print service provider (PSP) is capable of tackling the demanding requirements of building wraps. Due to their expansive size, PSPs offering building wraps typically restrict themselves to 118-inch machines or wider with production throughputs. The larger the printed panels, the less stitching and welding required during the finishing process.

The result is faster, on time production, and, if need be, the ability to quickly deal with challenges that arise along the way. The flexibility of a printer is also a critical component when deciding if a machine is appropriate for building wraps.

Given viewing distance, color fidelity is not an immediate concern when producing wraps. But if you work in an image-conscious market such as CA, the look is everything. Hawthorne, CA-based Lithographix provides full-service commercial and grand format printing to some of the biggest movie studios in the business. They produce mesh wraps for Paramount’s Iron Mountain building in downtown Los Angeles, CA. From that perch, the firm promotes a number of comic book blockbusters like Spiderman and Iron Man.

"We bring commercial printing mentality into the grand format arena," shares Layne Morey, VP of marketing, Lithographix. The company works with a variety of in-demand brands, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Apple, and Gap. Retaining these high-profile clients takes an obsessive attention to color. The firm invested in EFI VUTEk’s six-color VUTEk 150, two eight-color VUTEk 3360s, four eight-color VUTEk 5330s, and two seven-color VUTEk QS3200 UV flatbeds. "With all of these printers we’re confident we can hit the colors we need to," says Morey.

Working in the entertainment industry means having to move fast. Clients are demanding and have high expectations. The printers need to keep pace. The company’s VUTEks are pressed into service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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"The Hewlett-Packard (HP) Scitex XL1500, XP2100, XP5100, and XP5300 are designed to efficiently produce high-quality building wraps while still offering the flexibility to produce a variety of other outputs," says Ziki Kuly, director and GM, large format industrial solutions, HP North America, HP. "

For our customers the productivity, versatility, and durability provided by HP large format solutions are the most important factors to consider when purchasing a large format printer. Versatility is also an important feature because it allows the PSP to create a wide variety of large format applications for customers."

Arizona’s bluemedia, based in AZ, purchased a HP Scitex for its quality and productivity, explains Jared Smith, co-founder and president, bluemedia.

While the majority of the installed grand format printers are solvent machines, there is a growing demand for UV. "We’re noticing more UV products sold for their environmental, or ‘green,’ appeal—especially in CA," shares Tom Reilly, VP of marketing, Gandinnovations. With some towns slowly banning solvents for outdoor use, Reilly predicts UV grand format printers will gain greater attention.

Reasons for buying a specific printer are as varied as businesses themselves. Color, consistency, durability, and productivity all weigh on the minds of the discerning PSP. Purchasing a grand format printer that meets your shop’s needs and obtaining capabilities can deliver the return on investment (ROI) necessary to profitably market building wraps.

Next week read about the inks and media used to create building wraps, as well as finishing techniques that complete the entire package.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, Grand Format Superman.

Oct2008, Digital Output

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