Wide Format


Posted: 5 May 2010

With the Morning Flight pricing engine still apart to install user-defined presses, this would be a good time to start looking at how we can integrate Wide Format Inkjet, Flatbed, and Screen Printing.

Screen printing can likely be accommodated along the lines of merchandise, where we don't actually have to set up a press for it. Just a way to quote it.

How much has changed in the wide format arena since Automan's post in the old forum?

Wide Format is clearly the big gorilla that many of you have been asking for, but what about Flatbed Digital? Is anyone using it? And, if so, what kind, and do you have specific requirements? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

WOO-HOO! I've been waiting for wide format!

A couple things have changed since that post from Automan. I don't think it needs to be treated any differently then the current way MF handles it (product based). What I think would be the tricky part is inventory. If you decide to print a job portrait instead of landscape (for whatever reason) you will use up more paper. As for flatbeds - I think those are still in the arena of the big boys who are probably using a $30,000 MIS system with a full time staff to support it. Might as well include it though, the prices will come down eventually. I imagine they would be square foot based but would be "cut sheet" instead of "web". Here are some updates and inputs based on Automan's post (I assume, naturally, that MF could easily switch between U.S. and metric):

A large format inkjet press needs:

1.Large maximum print size - up to 2500 x 6000 in mm (my printer can print up to 53 FEET in length).
2.At least 3 liquid ink cost options - Dye (and Pigment), UV & Solvent (and eco-solv) in ml per sq/m.
3.Run time as usual in minutes. I think this could get tricky as image quality will affect speed - blue prints print way faster than a high quality photo.
4.Startup waste - typically 0.5 sq metres (may want to add "drop-off" or "cut-off". Sometimes you have to print a 3' banner on a 3.5' roll!
5.Makeready image RIP time.
6.Speed in sq metres per hour.

Full colour or monochrome costs the same (yes, black ink cost the same as cyan), so no need to separate (but a lot of the Canons and Epsons have 6, 8 and even 12 colors!). Virtually all prints are single sided, no second side considerations (banners are sometimes two sided, but it's normal just to print two single sided). Media paper (paper rolls) can be entered by the user. Typical widths: 610, 914, 1067, 1270, 1367, 1525 mm or US 24, 36, 42, 54, 60" (64" is another common machine width. Some of them are as wide as 13 FEET!). Roll lengths vary from 10 through to 70m. Ink usage for each media: low, medium and high. (there are standard sizes like Arch D 24"x36", etc.)

When we price a print, we look at

1.Media type and cost.
2.The ink type.
3.The print density.
4.The sq metre size of the job.

Then there are Finishing Options: i.e lamination - Matt or gloss at the print size, eyelets (brass grommets or plastic tabs), stitching (a lot of shops are now using double sided adhesive a.k.a "welding" or a special reinforcement tape), board mounting etc. Media (paper) is not an issue, providing users can enter the width and length of rolls, and ink usage per sq/m - low/med/high. (There are other finishing options like easels and banner rails.)

(Wow, this is probably going to be my longest post ever!)

You'll probably also have to consider cutting. Some of these printers (like Roland) have the ability to "die-cut" what it prints, like a plotter. Most machines (Mimaki and Mutoh) have a separate plotter that reads registration marks. A lot of printers use them for short run labels. Oh, and some machines even use white ink so they can print on clear window film!

I'll think about it some more and if I come up with anything else ...

. . . . .  Keith

I'd love to punch a monster hole in that $30,000 MIS price tag, Keith! Thank you for your input.

A have a friend whose son owns a local sign shop. His three main pieces of equipment are a wide-format inkjet, a plotter (1-C printing and cutting), and a laminator. One-man shop, total capital investment under $100K. With the diminishing market for conventional printing, if I still ran the Unitac print shop, that's a market I would probably diversify into. The idea of doing vehicle wraps alone would have piqued my interest.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel