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Wed, May

Management information systems have a certain reputation among some large-format PSPs for failing to meet the sector’s specific needs. Image Reports asked four MIS providers some of the key questions PSPs regularly pose.

How automated do you want you workflow? Walter Hale takes a look at robotic technology trends and where it may lead you.

Robot is a curious word. First used by Czech playwright Karel Capek in his 1920 science fiction drama R.U.R, it was actually suggested by his brother Josef, a painter and writer. Karel had wanted to call his factory made artificial creations labori (from the Latin word labor) but he didn’t like the word. Josef suggested robot – robota was a Czech word that meant slave labour, drudgery or hard work. Karel liked the sound of that and it stuck, with him and us. R.U.R. stood for Rossum’s Universal Robots but in the near century since, robotics have been far from universal. In 1959, computer-assisted manufacturing was demonstrated for the first time by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

At 3.2m wide, this is one of the biggest wide-format machines to offer LED curing at a speed suitable for high-volume production environments. Nessan Cleary puts it through it’s paces.

LED curing is becoming increasingly common, particularly amongst smaller printers though many people doubt that it can be used with the bigger, more productive machines. So EFI caused a stir when it first announced the 3.2m wide GS3250LX, one of the biggest UV wide format printers to use LED curing. With around a hundred already installed in the UK, it's obviously proving popular.

Ink development is pushing ahead on wider fronts as OEMs and third party suppliers chase environmental and technology benefits as John Taylor reports.

Walter Hale explores the integration of music, video and other electronics into print.

Four years ago, a one-year-old child became an internet sensation by pressing a magazine as if it were an iPad and looking nonplussed when her prods and swipes had no effect. In an age of iPads, iPhones, iWatches and iEverythingelse it is easy to understand why the print medium is regarded as horribly one-dimensional and why it has become fashionable to declare that this form of physical content is dead.

Agfa has made a determined play for the mid-market flatbed sector with its Jeti Mira, so Nessan Cleary went to test its performance.

Over the past year or so we’ve seen a number of mid-market flatbeds launched, which offer considerably more productivity and the potential for volume ink savings over smaller flatbeds, but without the huge cost of the very fastest machines. Earlier this year Agfa launched the Jeti Mira, to target exactly this market. A few weeks ago we travelled to Agfa's European demo centre near Antwerp, Belgium to put it through its paces.

It has been said that with inkjet, any surface is a possible medium. So how’s that impacting substrate development? John Taylor asks ‘where now?’It has been said that with inkjet, any surface is a possible medium. So how’s that impacting substrate development? John Taylor asks ‘where now?’

Walter Hale explains why you need to be keeping your eye on the Internet of Things.

Clothes that adjust to the temperature, vacuum cleaners operated by text messages and cars that drive themselves … these are some of the much-hyped innovations that could be spawned by the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT). Yet uber-management consultants McKinsey suggest that the media have misunderstood this revolution. Innovations aimed at the consumer generate plenty of headlines, but they argue that the IoT could have a more profound impact in the B2B world, where it will rewrite the rules of competition, create new business models, and transform the way companies use technology. To take one example relevant to wide-format printing, every printer could be fitted with sensors that predict when maintenance will be required and analyse workflows to improve efficiency. We’re starting to see the beginnings of it, but before we look too far ahead, let’s take a step back.

Mutoh is targeting this entry-level LED UV printer at the quality end of the market, but how well does it do in our test? Nessan Cleary investigates.

The ValueJet 1626UH is a 1.6m wide UV hybrid printer, designed to produce high quality prints for entry level volume printers, as well as prototypes for packaging. It uses LED curing and so Mutoh has marketed it as a speciality and industrial printer, to distinguish it from its range of solvent printers, which are also called ValueJets. It takes a standard range of media, including vinyl, canvas and wallpaper, as well as most rigid media up to 15mm thick, and up to 15kg in weight.

Web-to-print is get to gain a real foothold in the digital wide-format space despite print buyers wanting to use it. John Taylor considers the issues.

Have the cyber criminals got to you yet? Perhaps not, but that’s no reason to ignore what’s a mounting issue as business writer Walter Hale explains.

Every minute 173 new kinds of viruses are invented. And every three seconds a website somewhere in the world is compromised. The statistics are scary but they also make a useful point. When cyber security hits the headlines it is usually because a government department or a corporate titan like Sony has been compromised. To the managing director of a typical wide-format printer, the risk of their company being targeted by North Korea’s savviest cyber criminals might seem infinitesimal, but the Sony-style attacks are only the well-publicised tip of a very large iceberg.

Having been impressed with the Jetrix flatbed he tested last year Nessan Cleary went to see if the new roll-to-roll printer would be as good.

Korean company Inktec has built up a good reputation for its Jetrix range of UV-curable printers. Last year Image Reports tested one of the flatbeds and booked a return trip earlier this year when Inktec announced a couple of UV-curable roll-to-roll printers in the run up to Fespa 2015. The RX3200 on test this time around, is a 3.2m wide printer. There’s also a 5m wide version, the RX5000, which was shown on the Jetrix stand at Fespa 2015, though Ben Woodruff, sales manager at Inktec Europe, believes that the 3.2m machine will prove more popular here in the UK.

With Fespa 2015 done and dusted, Nessan Clearly reports on what it highlighted in terms of wide-format inkjet technology development and trends.

Business writer Walter Hale takes a view on its relevance to wide-format PSP diversification.

Don’t believe the hype. We’ve all come across that cliché. It certainly applies to 3D printing - although not in the usual way.

The hype doesn’t come close to conveying the potentially disruptive power of 3D printing. Here is a technology that can make replacement body parts, cars, spare parts for the International Space Station and, in China, 10 new houses in 24 hours.