24 May 2018 Other Voices

Looking into large format printing? There are four questions printers should ask before they buy

Visitors to Fespa in Berlin will have come away with a huge amount of information. Ricoh’s Beata Ulman suggests that those concentrating on implementing large format should ask themselves four questions to organise their thoughts.

Whether it is billboards, shop windows, instore displays, vehicle wraps, building wraps, pop ups, PR stunts or out of home guerrilla marketing, the market for large format printing is getting more creative and diverse.

More of Ricoh’s print services customers are looking into large format opportunities. But those new to this space should do their research. There are plenty of options available and the solution must be the right fit.

Question 1 Roll to roll, flatbed or hybrid format printer?

It should go without saying, but large format printers tend to be just that – large. Those thinking about getting a roll to roll, flatbed or hybrid need to make sure the format matches the space available.

It is important that the format can handle the print applications to that customers want. Things to take into consideration include:
• Is it necessary to print onto rigid substrates, rolls of flexible media or a mix of materials?
• How thick or textured is media?
• How important is registration? Will it overprint existing images?
• How much space does it take up? Some systems are more compact than others

Question 2 UV curable, latex or solvent ink?

Most new large format flatbed and hybrid printers use UV curable ink. The remaining will be working with either latex or solvent ink. Different inks come with pros and cons. For instance, UV curable dries the fastest, meaning that more jobs can be processed, but will usually be more expensive than latex or solvent.

If UV curable is the right fit, there will be a choice to be made between traditional mercury or newer UV LED curing systems. LED technology may cost more upfront to but can save money in the long run as it uses less energy.

Things to take into consideration include:
• Will it print onto heat sensitive print media?
• What is the quoted life of the UV light source?
• How often will the UV lamps need to be replaced and what is the ongoing replacement cost?
• What is the printer’s energy consumption and what impact does that have on costs?

Question 3 What print quality?

The printhead technology will impact print quality and turnaround time. Consider how the print will be viewed. For work viewed at close quarters, such as fine art, it is important to choose a device that produces high resolution prints. But for display graphics that will be viewed from further away, resolution is less important.

Things to take into consideration include:
• Can the printer produce greyscale images of near photographic quality?
• Does it offer light cyan and light magenta ink or just standard colours?
• What is the throughput speed when printing greyscale images?
• Can it print in different resolutions for different applications?

Question 4 What is the advantage of white ink?

White ink expands the range of potential print applications. It can be used as a base layer when printing onto coloured media and transparent film. The white layer eliminates show through and ensures colour integrity. It can even be used to add a texture, such as a snakeskin effect, to the print media.
The commercial value it creates can outweigh the cost of running an additional colour and help you achieve higher margins as well.

Things to take into consideration include:
• If printing solely onto white substrates, white ink may not be required
• Is white ink available on demand (dedicated channel) or does it require a colour channel?
• If colour channels need to be changed, how long does it take and how much ink is wasted?
• Can it print white ink at the same time as other colours or does it require a separate pass?

To download Ricoh's guide to large format printing, fill in this form.

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Ricoh's large format range

Ricoh's large format range

Ricoh had a strong presence at Fespa, the main event for any printer whose interest lies in any aspect of wide format.

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Download Ricoh's Large Format Buyers' Guide

Ricoh's large format overview

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