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Expanded Use of Color Presents Growth Opportunities for Dealers

1 Aug, 2012 By: Bob Honn, Oce North America imageSource

An uncertain economy, competitive business environments and ever-growing customer demands have companies in all industries looking to save money and gain a competitive edge while maintaining high service levels. As the tools that enable companies to do this evolve, so too does the complexity and requirements that go along with them. For professionals using the latest CAD, Geographic Information System (GIS) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies, the greater level of detail has increased the need to effectively communicate that information. Fortunately, there is an effective way to do this and leverage these technologies: the use of color.

Research has shown that use of color leads to faster, more accurate decision-making, aids in comprehension and retention, increases visual appeal, helps sell the value of plans and can result in construction project savings. People are less likely to misinterpret drawings and more apt to retain complex information when it is presented in color, thereby reducing the potential for mistakes and miscommunication, which can be critical due to the often sensitive nature of these drawings, diagrams and graphics.

Along with the expanding need for advanced design and imaging applications and the level of detail they provide comes the need for color wide format printing systems that support the output generated by these applications.

Building a Case for Color:

Importance in Various Applications

Equipment dealers are uniquely positioned to educate their customers on the value of color to generate highly detailed, complex or attention-grabbing wide format documents. Color plays a critical role in each of the following applications:

Geographic Information System (GIS) A GIS is any computer system that captures, stores, analyzes, manages and presents data that is linked to a location, and these applications are widespread over many industries – such as public utility management, urban planning, local and federal government and emergency management. Because GIS applications are, by their nature, tied to maps, color is often used to effectively communicate detailed information found in GIS maps and satellite photos.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD)CAD systems are widely in place today across many industries for developing conceptual designs and technical drawings, and are created natively in color. Whether piping grids, building designs or 3D renderings, color is an integral part of a CAD users operation.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)As the next generation of CAD software for the design and documentation of building projects building, BIM has changed the way parties involved in the building lifecycle collaborate by allowing all project decision makers to work with a common 3D model. Expanded multidimensional views in color help illuminate fine design details that might otherwise be left to guesswork. Printing these views in color helps to better communicate these complex plans.

Short-Term Signage Short-term signage can be used for everything from grocery store sale posters to meeting and event posters to workplace signage and can replaced as often as the sales offers or events change. While intended only for temporary use, signage must often be attractive and eye-catching in order to attract customers – for example, a grocery store promoting a sale.

Traditional Barriers & Challenges to Color Printing

While the use of color in wide format documents is an easy way to improve accuracy and efficiency, many companies are still hesitant to make the transition. Traditional draw-backs to the use of color include:

Color Printing is Too Slow With older wide format color printing technology, frequent ink and media changing was required and sluggish file processing created long wait times between prints.

Color Printing is Difficult to UseWide format color technology has customarily required manual intervention to ensure smooth operations. Operators were unable to readily discern where jobs were in the print queue, changing media rolls was slow and cumbersome, visibility to ink level status was poor, and prints often rolled up, requiring users to manually handle prints.

Color Printing is Too ExpensiveConventional color wide format aqueous inkjet printers required expensive, specially coated inkjet paper that would allow colored ink to properly bond to the media in order to achieve high quality output.

Color Prints Smears and Need Extra Drying Time Since traditional aqueous inkjet wide format printers use water-based ink, there was often a significant amount of time needed for the ink to dry. Additionally, even after the prints dried, there’s still a challenge with water-fastness as prints will smudge and feather when moisture is applied, for example from sweaty hands or use in wet conditions.

Color Printing Requires Permission from Supervisors Time, expense & technical expertise required to operate cumbersome wide format color printers, professionals often had to request permission from their supervisors to print in color. The need to seek prior approval & even outsource prints to reprographic firms added an extra step to the process, which is not favorable timewise.

Debunking the Old Myths

Thanks to new advances in color printing technology, businesses can now overcome these traditional barriers and reap the benefits of using color in their wide format printing applications. Next generation wide format color printing solutions offer powerful file processing and faster print speeds, minimizing bottlenecks and leading to greater productivity gains. As a result of smoother and faster workflow, businesses can expedite revenue capture based on achieving project milestones on time and under budget.

Use of solid toner technology allows for instantly dry prints that can be can be handled, stacked or folded immediately, which can be critical for companies working with tight deadlines or in the event of an emergency. Features like large toner, media capacity & a top delivery tray allow long unattended print runs, so internal resources can be deployed elsewhere.

Higher quality output can lead to reduced errors and lower project costs, and with today’s print technology there is no significant difference between color and black & white output with regard to productivity and print quality. Advanced wide format printers can print both color and B/W on lower cost, untreated & recycled paper, no longer requiring users to use expensive, specialty media. Aside from saving costs by using bond paper, some advanced printing systems enable users to determine the exact amount of toner used on each individual print, which can be converted into a cost per print based on exact toner usage & viewed on the machine.

Some wide format color systems offer multiple rolls. This decreases the need to spend time changing rolls when more than one type of media is needed and increases the likelihood of being able to print on the correct roll width as multiple sizes can be available simultaneously. This not only saves time but also greatly decreases the need to trim prints and waste paper.

Furthermore, by consolidating monochrome and color print volume, companies can reduce or even eliminate the need for outsourcing. This not only contains costs but enables users to maintain tighter control over project schedules and deliverables. Making an initial investment in the right printing technology can save measurable costs downstream.

Experience More Productive Printing

Using color enables companies to present info with greater clarity, accuracy & impact. With innovations in next-generation technical document management systems, companies can overcome the traditional barriers of wide format printing & experience significant benefits today.

Article content by Bob Honn, Director, Marketing Services, Wide Format Printing Systems division, Oce North America, a Canon Group Company. Visit www.oceausa.com for detailed information.

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