By Melissa Donovan
Direct print continues to be an attractive capability. Less waste, minimal room for operator error, and time savings are some of the benefits. Despite today’s lower cost of entry, many print service providers (PSPs) still print on a roll device and mount to rigid board. What they may not know is how accessible high-quality flatbed technology is.
Entry-level printers are available at ideal price points and offer many of the features needed in today’s ever-changing, application-focused industry. White ink, vacuum hold mechanisms, and optional roll devices are offered out of the box—or if a PSP foresees these features as necessary in the future, most machines offer scalability as well.
Scantech Graphics & Displays, based in San Diego, CA, came to this realization five years ago when it first introduced flatbed printing to its shop. While it continually relied on its roll-to-roll device and found it dependable, the PSP identified flatbed printing as an important growth area.
“We were very attracted to direct print and wanted a flatbed as an alternative to traditional print and mounting methods. Especially considering the labor and increased reprints associated with traditional print and mounting methods,” says Scott Borowik, operations manager, Scantech Graphics & Displays.
In business since 1992, the company employs 15 in a 10,000 square foot space. Its customers are national, but it focuses on the Southern CA area. Main services include wall graphics, window graphics, floor graphics, banners, prints/posters, fine art, vehicle wraps, backlit signage, point of purchase (POP), promotional graphics, and construction documents.
That last service was once the company’s sole offering. Founded by Kevin Gennerman, Scantech Graphics & Displays was originally a reprographic company that went by the name A/E Scantech. As digital print evolved, Gennerman recognized the need to add large format color printing to the portfolio and expand its service offering beyond B&W. In 2013, the company acquired Cyclops Display—a small display company—and subsequently changed its name to Scantech Graphics & Displays.
Prior to acquiring Cyclops, in 2010 the management team focused on determining the biggest growth potential for business. After the downturn in 2008, the company looked at the numbers and noticed how AEC had dropped off, even into 2010. Large format color became a top priority. “We had always viewed large format color as an add-on service, but foreseeing the evolution of the reprographic market we made it a priority to become a primary revenue stream,” explains Borowik.
Starting from a familiar name—the shop owns Océ TDS800 devices—it turned to Canon Solutions America and purchased an Océ Arizona 550 GT UV printer. Several features on this specific device attracted the PSP to the 4×8-foot flatbed.
“Price point and quality were big drivers in the decision process along with brand reliability and service. Plus we were impressed with the gantry set up. The material stays stable, which we really like. The quality is great, there is no banding thanks to the Océ VariaDot imaging technology. Lastly, it is equipped with white ink, which expands the number of substrates we can print to,” lists Borowik.
One of Scantech Graphics & Displays’ main goals in acquiring a flatbed was to grow the possibilities of printing to different materials, specifically customer-supplied items such as wood and tile.
Two operators are trained to run the Océ Arizona 550 GT. Applications printed include POP, display headers, presentation graphics, and cut lettering. Materials from companies like Coroplast and United Industries’ Ultra Board, in addition to PVC, are constantly used. Much of this is for short- to medium-term projects.
Unforeseeable White Out
White ink is now a critical part of Scantech Graphics & Displays’ main operation thanks to the Océ Arizona 550 GT. Borowik admits that the team didn’t predict the number of applications they could accomplish with white ink. “It sort of snowballed. We didn’t anticipate all the specific markets, but we did realize the advantages of having this feature.”
For example, the flatbed allows for second surface printing to clear acrylic, versus face mounting. Healthcare companies represent just one of the verticals the PSP creates work for using this practice.
A customer came to the print shop requesting a quote to create artwork for common areas and offices. Using direct to print, Scantech Graphics & Displays saved them about half of what they were originally paying.
The PSP regularly prints for DuChâteau—a lifestyle brand, specializing in the manufacture of luxury architectural finishes from hardwood and vinyl flooring to wallcoverings and doors. It creates display headers for many of its products using various PVC substrates. Printing directly to the media using the Océ Arizona 550 GT, the job is then finished with its Esko Kongsberg digital cutting table. One of the most recent requests was for something unique to celebrate the biggest brand launch in the history of the company.
“Working with Scantech Graphics & Displays and the materials, we tried to combine traditional printing techniques with manufacturing/routing materials to make a more dimensional impact without increasing cost too much. We were blown away by the depth and quality of the engraving in the material and the high-quality printed image,” shares Jose Alonso, creative director, DuChâteau.
Without the flatbed and cutter, the work for DuChâteau would be difficult to accomplish and most likely out of reach with the client’s budget. “The combination of UV printer and cutting table is a real game changer and facilitates increased output while keeping labor costs down and price points attractive,” explains Borowik.
Scantech Graphics & Displays increases output without adding additional labor cost because one operator is capable of running both the Océ Arizona 550 GT and Esko Kongsberg. Both machines are strategically placed in the production facility in a complementary layout that allows the operator easy access and viewability.
Five years ago Scantech Graphics & Displays made the decision to incorporate direct print into its workflow. Identifying the demand for the type of applications that a flatbed would ultimately play a hand in creating was one of the determining factors in the final purchase. The Océ Arizona 550 GT provides the PSP with marginal waste, minimized timeframes, and the ability to print to new substrates.
Nov2015, Digital Output