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Tue, Dec

The prototype shown at Fespa 2013 was impressive, so Nessan Cleary went to see if it’s living up to its promise.

Last year at Fespa 2013 in London both Screen and Fujifilm showed a version of a new mid-range flatbed printer that had been developed by Cambridge-based Inca Digital. Screen, which owns Inca Digital, subsequently launched the machine at the end of last year as the Truepress Jet W3200UV. So far two of these have been installed in the UK, and the machine that we tested - at Ipex - was due to be installed at a Dutch printer shortly afterwards. Martijn van den Broek, sales manager for Screen’s wide-format products, says that the company is still in the process of setting up a distribution network for the rest of Europe.

The trend in laminators is toward entry-level models but there’s still a need for top of the range laminators such as this model say users.

Since the advent of UV printers and their ability to print direct to board substrates we don’t tend to hear much about laminators. Yet, they are still essential for finishing solvent and aqueous prints. The obvious use is to mount these prints to boards, which a great many people are still doing. Laminates are also used to add protection to a print, usually from the effects of UV light, but also protection from weather for outdoor signs, and from scratching and vandalism for displays in general. But there is a wide range of laminating films for different effects. This includes changing the texture of a print or adding a glossy or matte finish. On top of this laminates can also be used to enhance the colours in an image, or to add special effects such as frosting.

Designs on new applications? Then you’ll need to catch up with developments in software packages that can help your creatives expand your business. Nessan Cleary investigates.

We've long argued in these pages that smart investments in software can squeeze additional productivity out of your existing hardware. But what about one area that's often overlooked - design software. This year’s Widthwise Survey data again threw up the fact that a significant proportion of large-format print solutions providers have diversified into design and are, or plan to, expand services in that area because there’s so much value-add to be gained by doing so.

The half-yearly survey from the Shop and Display Equipment Association (SDEA) reveals that there is tangible evidence of a positive upwards climb within the retail display industry.

Users tell of how this unit provides a relatively cheap way of printing to fabrics for everything from banners to tablecloths.

There are a lot of advantages to printing to fabric for so- called soft signage but textile printing can also open up new markets for wide-format print providers, such as interior décor and even clothing.

Nessan Cleary flags up key areas of pre-investment discussion as trade show season gets underway.

There’s a number of trade shows over the coming few weeks, which of course we'll report on, and where there will undoubtedly be a lot of new/updated kit. But before we become too involved in looking at the new devices and their must-have features, we thought it time to consider the questions you should be asking before the 2014 investment cycle starts gathering momentum.

Nessan Cleary tests the latest Colorpainter, a production machine that delivers good image quality at reasonably fast speeds.

The ColorPainter M-64S, developed by Seiko InfoTech, was launched at last summer's Fespa show in London but only started shipping in the UK from the end of 2013. The M- series fills out the ColorPainter range nicely, sitting just below the top of the range H2 series but being faster than the entry-level W-series.

Small businesses can win up to £25,000 each to explore digital innovations in data, as part of a new contest backed by IC tomorrow, part of the Technology Strategy Board.

Solvent inkjet has been around for many years but latex is gaining ever more traction, so which is the best choice? Nessan Cleary investigates.

On the face of it latex and solvent printers appeal to the same people – those using flexible roll-fed materials for banners, posters, general display signage and vehicle graphics. There’s a lot of overlap between the two technologies, which offer similar levels of performance in terms of image quality and outdoor performance. So, how to choose between them?

Nessan Cleary looks at just what sort of print quality you can expect from this entry-level latex printer.

The HP Latex 260 is an entry-level latex printer that offers an alternative to solvent printers, particularly for more office-alternative to solvent printers, particularly for more office- based type users. It's based on the same chassis as HP’s T7100 CAD and Z6200 graphics printers, albeit with additional heaters to cure the latex inks.

Cutting tables are a must-have accessory for a flatbed UV printer but does it make economic sense to plump for an attractively priced import?

Sooner or later most people who buy a flatbed printer also find that they need a cutting table, if only to cut down the large rigid boards to more manageable sizes. But, inevitably, most budget for the printer and look to save money on the cutting table. Step forward the Dyss X7, a solid but affordable cutter that’s been pitched as an alternative to the main suppliers.

Nessan Cleary kicks off the first of a series of independent tests by looking at Agfa’s most popular wide-format printer in the UK.

The Anapurna M2050, which is Agfa's most popular model in the UK, is targeted at the entry level to mid range user, where its flexibility is suitable for a broad range of jobs.

In theory GMG ProductionSuite separates the prepress from the ripping for greater production efficiency, so what’s it like in practice? Nessan Cleary asked users.

We've long been advocates of using workflow programs to organise production departments more efficiently, so it seemed like a good idea to look at one such system – GMG's ProductionSuite – in more detail. This should separate prepress functions from the output in order to squeeze the maximum efficiency from both halves of a job. It can oversee multiple printers so that jobs can be routed to the most appropriate device, even late in the production process. It can take care of difficult issues such as colour management and finishing marks and offer centralised management of every job in production.

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.

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