Wide format devices are not limited to large-scale applications. Due to increased speed and quality, print service providers (PSPs) often utilize digital wide format devices to create smaller items in short runs. Decals and labels are gaining popularity.
By using wide format printers to create labels in short runs, PSPs offer more affordable products to customers, while saving time and money on the production end. Some shops make the switch from screenprinting to digital wide format after realizing the benefits.
The Switch to Digital Wide Format
A Better Sign is a small shop run out of a 5,000 square foot facility in Snellville, GA. Seven employees provide customers with banners, exhibit displays, backdrops, stage props, labels, decals, and vehicle wraps.
Though the shop opened in 1998, it was not until 2001 that it began to print labels on a wide format device. “The previous method was screenprinting,” explains Cecil Sellers, owner/member, A Better Sign. “We eventually phased out screenprinting, as it was no longer cost effective for short runs.” Labels printed on wide format devices now accounts for about 20 percent of the shop’s overall business. Demand mainly comes from the service industry, construction, auto customization, and political campaigns.
With previous screenprinting experience, the transition to digital was basic. “It really did not present any particular challenges. Having an understanding of screenprinting reduced the learning curve when it came to learning digital wide format,” notes Sellers. “In many ways digital wide format is easier.”
Several factors trigger whether a business should add short-run digital labels, but it helps to have a trusted wide format device already implemented.
A Better Sign relies on Mimaki USA, Inc.’s JV33-160, which prints up to 64 inches, and a Gerber Scientific Products CAT UV flatbed to create labels in short runs. Sellers appreciates the machine’s ease of use. “There are no screens and no press plates to manage. It’s almost as easy as using a desktop color printer,” he says. Cast and calendared vinyl film is the media of choice.
Mimaki’s JV33 series of multifunction, compact, solvent inkjet printers are ideal for small shops like A Better Sign, and for those looking to enter the wide format space. The JV33 series offers PSPs three options—the JV33-130, 54-inch printer; the JV33-160, 64-inch printer, and the JV33-260, a 104-inch grand format printer.
The device’s high-speed printhead contains 180 nozzles and yields a print quality of 1,440 dpi. Print shops producing labels and decals require a high level of quality because unlike large banners or signs viewed from a distance, labels are viewed up close.
Short Run Success
A Better Sign recently produced a short run of pressure-sensitive vinyl labels with a contour cut. They were adhered to wall plates for custom wiring in private commercial and residential buildings. “The customer needed 5,000 full-color labels that were waterproof and printed for a reasonable price,” shares Sellers.
The labels were designed in Adobe Systems Incorporated Illustrator and RIPped using SA International, Inc. FlexiSIGN-PRO. The process took less than 30 minutes. Then, using the Mimaki JV33-160 with Mimaki SS21 solvent ink on gloss calendared adhesive vinyl. The product was completed in under two hours.
Utilizing the shop’s digital wide format device, time and money are saved. Printing labels in short runs is profitable. In part two of this series, we look at another small PSP that obtains a steady stream of business creating labels for micro businesses such as breweries and hot sauce makers.