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Listening to the Customer

Mimaki's Executive Viewpoint

By Digital Output staff

We continue our Industry Profile series with Mimaki USA, Inc. Based in Suwanee, GA, the company develops and markets inkjet printers and cutting plotters. The top three markets Mimaki targets are sign graphics, industrial, and textile/apparel.

 

Reinventing Yourself

Looking back on the last 12 months, the slow economy forced many print service providers (PSPs) to make money by leaving their comfort zones. As Fran Gardino, business development manager, Mimaki shares, companies such as commercial printers came into their showrooms looking to buy new equipment. “They had this look on their face like I am going to go out of business if I don’t cater to new customers and embrace new technology.”

 

Stagnate PSPs do not advance and the same is said for vendors. Development is the key to future business. “Research and development is critical in an industry with fast moving technology. You cannot rely on one product for a long time. The general rule is to keep reinventing yourself,” explains Gardino.

 

This is something Mimaki continues to do well. Within textiles the company responded to industry demand. The Tx400-1800D and Tx400-1800B series printers offer direct sublimation printing in four-, six-, or eight-color modes. Gardino predicts that textiles will continue to grow in digital and ultimately most fabric will be printed with inkjet, as there is more textile square footage over anything else in the world. Currently, the key to breaking the barrier, according to him, is print speed.

 

When UV LED became possible, Mimaki helped. Its JFXplus series of UV LED flatbed printers offer high-resolution prints at efficient speeds, especially when using the included post-curing unit. Gardino cites the beauty of UV LED as it prints on untreated materials such as plastics.

 

Listening to customer demand, Mimaki released the UJF-3042 UV LED desktop printer. The product positions the company to respond to the overall business climate with a reasonably priced, quality device.

 

Competitive Threats

Dynamic signage continues to edge into print. Initially, outdoor billboards were a popular application for electronic signage. At one point, shares Gardino, retail stores didn’t want to use digital as point of sale signage—but now it is everywhere and there are environments where it is appropriate. If a message needs to be changed quickly, as in hourly or less, then it is ideal. Pricing on toys or lawn furniture during sales seasons such as Christmas or Memorial Day, is one example where numbers may change based on the competition. However, Gardino is confident that static print will always remain in the mix.

 

Listening to the Customer

Defining this year’s state of the industry, Gardino echoes his company’s mantra of listening to the customer. This translates to the PSP as well—they should listen to their clients. When a customer walks into a shop the print provider should listen to their needs and ideas. As the job is dependent on them, match their ideas with the technology. In most cases, something good will come of it.

 

The next installment of this Industry Profile column features Mutoh America, Inc.

 

Oct2011, Digital Output

 
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