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Getting More Out of Your Large Format Color Printer

2 Dec, 2015 By: Bob Honn, Oce North America

How Can Print Providers Position Themselves as Experts to Help Their Customers Get More Out of Their Wide Format Printer Investment?

Printing technologies continue to advance rapidly, with new capabilities offering unprecedented flexibility, versatility and opportunity. At the same time, the media options for large format printers ranging from four-color CAD printers to state-of-the-art UV flatbed printers keep expanding, with hundreds of printable substrates now available.

While it can be challenging to keep pace, these developments open the door wide to a whole new world of possibilities for display graphics sign shops, reprographers and other print-for-pay providers. First off, they can reduce the need to outsource – bringing project control and, more importantly, revenue in-house. Secondly, with the right knowledge and support, they can take advantage of this opportunity to expand their business and enhance the ROI on their equipment.

Print-for-pay providers are uniquely positioned to educate their customers on how they can leverage their large format printer investment to expand their business and enhance the ROI of their equipment.

My Wide Format Color Printer Can Do That?

With the capability and versatility to produce a wide range of products (ranging from point-of-sale signs, trade show displays and floor graphics, wrapping paper, and custom wallpaper to elaborate, multi-layer, specialty applications), wide format print systems with the proper media selection offer an opportunity for print providers and their customers to get as creative as they can imagine.

Unfortunately, many print providers and end customers are simply unaware of the enormous untapped potential available to them. This presents an opportunity for print-for-pay providers to educate their customers on how they can expand their use of their wide format color printer in new and innovative ways. 

Print-for-pay providers should encourage their customers to consider these real-world applications:

  • Retail point-of-sale/point-of-purchase signage: The basic four-color weekly promotion poster becomes a little more impressive when you print it on pre-cut heavy card stock. Or move a step beyond the expected and print floor graphics on vinyl. Also, printing directly on wood distinguishes signage with a certain cachet, while printing on a rigid substrate and cutting shapes with a digital cutting system can yield consumer-stopping window displays.
  • Outdoor promotion: Create banners and flags by printing on fabric stretched on a wood panel and held flat with magnets and a steel plate. The use of fabric has become an art in itself, and turning regular indoor images for retail shops into soft, flowing advertisements can produce a distinguished, high-end retail look.
  • Specialty applications: Here’s an opportunity to really think outside the box and create applications such as acrylic displays and lamps, decorated apparel and wearable accessories (such as belts), inflatables, specialty wall coverings, print and go floor graphics and much more. With many universal print platform media, you can offer the same product on different printers for different looks.

Know the Ins-and-outs of Your Media and Ink Options

The days when white coated paper was the one and only media choice are ancient history. Hundreds of media options now exist – with new ones constantly being added to the mix. The biggest challenge becomes sifting through the options to find the ones that best meet the end customers’ needs for the applications they have in mind.

Factors that influence media selection include the goal and impact the customer aims to achieve, whether the output will be used indoors or outdoors, durability requirements and, of course, budget. The good news is that many of the new and emerging media choices are far less expensive than you might expect.

Paper options alone include presentation bond, synthetic paper, and gloss or satin paper. Then there’s a variety of non-rigid media including canvas, vinyl, Tyvek, backlit film, textiles, and self-adhesive products. And, last but far from least, options include a vast spectrum of rigid media including wood, acrylic, re-board, aluminum, and glass.

Matched with the right media, multi-color pigment ink systems deliver vibrant, high-performance results. High-color dye inks offer the widest range of colors, while UV-resistant inks withstand fading from UV rays. Printers that support an additional, dedicated channel for white ink applications offer greater additional versatility.

Print providers should outline to their customers that versatility in their printer portfolio and a comprehensive understanding of the available media and ink choices can unlock myriad possibilities that too often go untapped or simply overlooked.

Use Your Wide Format Printer to Expand Your Business Boundaries

In addition to educating their customers on the range of products they can produce using their large format equipment, print providers should also guide them on how to best showcase these capabilities to their customers. The more effectively and creatively a print provider can match a wide format color printer’s capabilities with potential applications, the more productively they can leverage this investment. Without question, the best way to get there from here is for a print provider to “show your stuff.”

Because printing is a visual business, seeing is believing. It is absolutely essential to create eye-catching samples of cutting-edge applications and display them prominently in their showroom, on their website, and via social media to spark the imagination of their customers and prospective customers.

By partnering with customers and prospects to create the products they envision, print-for-pay providers will:

  • Keep business in-house: The less business they outsource, the more control they can maintain over the quality of the product, the production schedule, the pricing, and the profits.
  • Upsell existing customers: Print providers can discover unmet needs by demonstrating a better understanding of the full range of their customers’ needs, and educate them about their ability to deliver high-quality, high-end unique applications.
  • Attract new customers: By expanding prospective customers’ understanding of their capabilities, print providers can reinforce their reputation as a “go-to” expert for all color printing needs.
  • Increase revenue and ROI: Making the most of media options and color printer capabilities creates the potential for print providers to capitalize on cost-effective opportunities to grow their business and profits.

Partner with an Expert

Printing capabilities frequently remain under-utilized in even the most basic four-color CAD printers, let alone the most advanced UV flatbed display graphics systems that integrate a host of innovative features such as white ink and digital cutters. With technology changing so rapidly, it is critical to select equipment from and build a relationship with a trusted vendor or media specialist who is not merely an order-taker, but a true partner who can offer unique application ideas. These experts can work closely with the print providers to knowledgeably determine and evaluate their options, educate them about their print system’s capabilities, and help them leverage their resources to most effectively anticipate and meet their customers’ needs.

Equally important, these trusted vendors can keep print-for-pay providers and their customers up-to-date on all the latest developments in media options and printer capabilities so that they both can deliver the innovative, high-standard products that help ensure their businesses have the tools they need to grow.

Discover a World of Business-Building Possibilities

Advancements in large format printing technology and media options present tremendous opportunity for print providers to grow their business and provide even greater value to their customers by producing new and innovative applications. And print providers are positioned to help their customers capitalize on those opportunities. Those providers that offer versatile wide format systems and media options and can help their customers better understand the multitude of possibilities available to them, have an opportunity to increase business from an existing customer base and grow their business among new prospects.

About the Author: Bob Honn

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