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Sat, Jun

Do distributors and resellers add value to the products they sell? Nessan Cleary takes a look at this crucial supplier network.

When it comes to buying new kit it’s easy to think about specs and prices but an important ingredient in every purchase is the way that it’s sold and supported. In some cases, particularly with the bigger, more expensive flatbeds, themanufacturers will deal direct with customers. But often the sales and support is outsourced to specialist distributors backed up by a network of dealers that have developed relationships with customers, possibly in niche areas that it’s hard for the equipment manufacturer to reach alone.

We’ve seen a substantial amount of new kit launched this year but it's worth looking at where there’s still room for improvement. Nessan Cleary reports.

Looking back over 2013 there’s been a good smattering of new printers released so it’s easy to focus here. But perhaps the most striking developments have been in the area of workflow. Up to now the wide-format sector has mostly relied on whatever Rip happens to come with the printer but, clearly, quite a few vendors believe that there’s room for something more sophisticated.

Well, when it comes to environmental considerations in the manufacture and distribution of wide-format inkjet printers, many vendors are still standing on the apron though their engines may be running. Nessan Cleary reports.

We know that for many businesses, particularly retailers, it’s important to be seen to be green and that increasingly that means looking to their whole supply chain and making sure that it reflects their own environmental policies. The knock-on effect is that large-format print providers are going to have to be in a position to demonstrate to their customers that their business fits the bill. And that in turn means taking a long hard look at the suppliers they use and the equipment they buy. In commercial print and in packaging this is already de rigueur but it seems that the large-format sector is lagging behind.

Textile printing is said to be one of the fastest growing areas in wide-format, but you do have to tailor the applications around the available materials? 

There’s no doubt that digitally printed textiles is a huge and growing business. But this is partly because it is made up of several very distinct markets. The biggest of these is the garment sector, which itself can cover a huge range from high street fashion to the occasional promotional    T-shirt. This includes printing to various materials from cotton to silk, which require specialist printers with inks suitable to these materials, and plenty of washing before the garment is ready  to wear.