By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Software tools are available to print service providers (PSPs) looking to print wallpaper or wallcoverings. RIPs and workflow solutions aid in easily laying out and efficiently printing these applications. Another option is dedicated software specifically developed for wallpaper or wallcovering design and production. Both offer features helpful to the entire process from sizing a graphic for accurate placement in a room to step-and-repeat functionality and adding trim and bleed marks.
Dedicated Vs. All-Inclusive
When it comes to wallcovering software solutions, PSPs have the option to invest in a dedicated wallpaper software or rely on a RIP or workflow product equipped with pre-existing features acceptable for wallpaper design and production.
If a PSP solely offers wallpaper, Arnaud Fabre, product manager, Caldera, suggests a dedicated solution or a plug-in. “But, if you’re producing ten different products you do not want to master ten different versions of software. In fact, you can’t,” he admits. An all-inclusive RIP or workflow solution is ideal in this case and can perform better than an additional plug-in.
Whether a dedicated or all-inclusive solution, Bryan Manwaring, director of product marketing, Onyx Graphics, Inc., believes validating output to meet customer needs that incorporate workflow automation is an integral part of finding the right solution. “A solution that can validate to customers the color output, consistency of output, and match standards as well as provide easy options for full print and cut automated workflows will ultimately reduce rework and time to production and increase profitability.”
According to Tom Wittenberg, planning and content manager, large format strategy, HP Inc., the biggest advantage for either option is that the PSP does not need to create any code to accomplish the basics. A dedicated solution is much more focused on wallpaper, but he admits that a RIP or workflow solution with multiple feature sets spreads out across different applications. “As a result, the all-inclusive option may leave some desirable effects out that may be included in the dedicated software package.” For example, the ability to adjust the wallpaper for obstacles such as furniture, lights, or outlets.
If the PSP is not committed enough to the décor market to require dedicated software but needs an application for wallcovering, Wittenberg says relying on a RIP or workflow product is a plus. “This gives the PSP the ability to serve multiple markets and needs with one program rather than purchasing several dedicated pieces of software.”
RIP and workflow options as well as dedication solutions offer a variety of benefits when it comes to designing wallpaper. PSPs opt for either alternative to bring jobs in house, enhance creativity, and save in design and file set up time.
PSPs that offer digital wallcoverings all have one common requirement—to achieve an accurate screen to print match each time they print. The tools designed for this purpose increase productivity, reduce waste, and enhance customer service standards, says Duncan Ross, commercial director, AVA CAD/CAM.
These solutions also relieve PSPs from outsourcing, which grants them more control on turnaround time and print quality. “The solution provider can do it all themselves and maintain control over the process,” explains Wittenberg.
Other general benefits of implementing a wallcovering software solution include producing repeatable patterns and providing finishing marks such as bleed, crop marks, and grommets easily from multiple raster image formats, which reduces errors from the manual input and maximizes print shop productivity, shares Manwaring.
In addition to time savings and the benefit of eliminating outsourcing, software tools designed to aid in the production of wallcoverings and wallpaper offer other advantageous features including advanced color and pattern management.
Wallpaper and wallcoverings are sold as a variety of different media in varying print qualities and finishes. This complexity is handled at the software level by defining product recipes consisting of media, ink, mark, and bleed combinations, shares Fabre. “Having the ability to compute small patterns and repetition, and duplicate it on the fly is a definite must-have in wallpaper production.”
There are several scenarios where either solution adds value to a digital wallpaper printing workflow. According to Ross, this encompasses the basics of simply opening and printing a color matched file and editing an existing design to work in repeat to designing a collection from scratch with multiple colorways. “Everyone still needs to work within the capacity of their digital printer and be able to communicate this clearly with their customers.”
In the wallpaper industry, customers specify colors by Pantone reference or a particular spot color recipe. When a job is received, Ross says the digital printer operator must have the confidence that a design will match, especially when working on different substrates. In this scenario, operators seek a solution that provides device profiling and color management for both RGB, CMYK, and spot color designs.
“Certain software automatically soft proofs the design and signals an in- or out-of-gamut warning before a single yard is printed. This confirms to the operator if the color can be accurately reproduced,” continues Ross. If not, the software suggests the closest compromise color.
Companies without the right software tools to complement digital printers may encounter difficulties achieving these colors on a regular and consistent basis, which Ross admits can lead to an unprofessional print-and-tweak type of workflow. “The inefficiencies and wastage of such poor practices are unimaginable and completely avoidable.”
The ability to work in real-time repeat is also considered an important factor. Ross suggests PSPs seek a solution with this functionality to ensure designs work efficiently in repeat, regardless of repeat numbers, repeat types, and file size.
Is It Essential?
Most PSPs use a RIP or workflow software for a number of reasons. The tools they offer benefiting wallpaper and wallcovering production are invaluable. Dedicated solutions are ideal for businesses looking to do a great deal of work in wallpaper and wallcoverings. Using either depends on the PSP.
First and foremost, PSPs should decide what print service they will offer to their customers—primarily wallcoverings or a variety of different services. “Workflow software has step-and-repeat functionality built into the product, which means print providers have the capability to add décor print services whenever they want rather than purchasing add-on modules,” offers Manwaring. This type of solution benefits PSPs considering wallcoverings for the future and applications that use similar functions.
It may also be essential for a PSP to invest in dedicated wallcovering software if they currently use traditional programs or are beginners to software design. Traditional wallpaper printing workflows are typically more complex and demand much greater levels of consultancy, recommends Ross.
Prepared with Design
Investing in the correct solution for a PSP’s individual wallpaper production process reduces file preparation and avoids error. These solutions help PSPs achieve accurate colors and patterns on a regular, consistent basis.
The second installment of this two-part series provides a selection of both dedicated wallpaper design software and RIPs and workflow products with features include that cater to this application.
Nov2018, Digital Output