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Wed, Aug

The retail sector is under pressure from online shopping and the recession but is this good or bad news for wide format providers? Nessan Cleary investigates.

The retail sector is an important source of work to the wide-format print community so it’s a no brainer that we keep up to speed with trends and developments impacting upon the type and levels of work we can produce for such customers.

It’s easier to sell wide-format graphics if you can demonstrate how effective they are, but how easy is that? Nessan Clearly finds out.

The HP Latex 3000 was designed as a production machine but can it handle both image quality and high speeds? Nessan Cleary puts it to the test.

Last year we tested HP’s 26500 entry-level latex printers but there are also several larger models so we’ve been back to put the top of the range Latex 3000 through its paces. This is a fairly large roll-to-roll printer, capable of taking media up to 3.2m or two rolls up to 1.6m each side by side.

The Chinese brand Longier is offering a reasonably priced flatbed printer, but how well does it perform in practice? Nessan Cleary asks user Paul Serellis of Eazy Print in Eastleigh.

From time to time you come across a new player in the wide-format inkjet printer market, such as Longier. Its range is built in China but now available in the UK and Europe courtesy of Gary Hall of Hallmark Equipment Services. The first of these was installed over the Christmas period at Eazy Print, based in Eastleigh in Hampshire.

The digitally printed textiles market is growing, but is if for you? Nessan Cleary reports on the latest technological developments for textile print.

The basic concept of using dye-sublimation to transfer digital inkjet prints to textiles has been around for ages, but we’ve seen considerable growth in this area in the last couple of years, as evidenced by the growing number of dye-sub printers and emergence of several niche trade shows.

Can the Cloud be used to centralise colour management for wide-format printers? Nessan Cleary investigates what vendors are doing to make it viable.

With an increasing number of services being offered through the Cloud, from file storage through to MIS, so it’s no surprise to find that some vendors in the print space are also offering colour management services from the Cloud.

Epson’s T-series aqueous ink printers are aimed at the crossover point between technical drawings and graphics. Nessan Cleary tests the printer to see how well it performs.

So far in this test series we've tried a number of solvent and UV-curable printers, and even a couple of latex machines, but this is the first time that we've looked at an aqueous ink printer. The T-series is Epson's latest wide-format offering and aims to bridge the crossover point between CAD and graphics. As such the emphasis is on value for money rather than image quality, though it's got some nice features.

This Roland roll-fed UV printer promises the freedom to print to a wide range of media, but does it live up to this? Nessan Cleary asked user Jason Pavlou, managing director of Giraffe Press.

It’s easy to think of UV machines as being for rigid materials and solvents for flexibles but there is a class of UV roll-fed printers that can cope with a wide range of different substrates. These printers are more expensive than their solvent counterparts but their prints cure to a tough finish without the need for lamination and the freedom to use less standard media can lead to a wider range of applications. This is the thinking that led Roland to develop its VersaUV LEC printers. And it's also the reason that Jason Pavlou, managing director of Giraffe Press, bought one back in the summer of 2013.

A growing number of UV-curable printers are using LEDs but is this trend set to continue? Nessan Cleary reports.

An enormous amount of technology goes into keeping inks wet enough to be able to lay them down onto a substrate without blocking the nozzles. But almost as much thought also goes into drying those inks without damaging the media. The way that the ink dries has a direct affect on the look of the image in terms of its colour saturation and overall glossiness so that the ability to control the drying system is a vital part of designing a printer.

Nessan Cleary takes a look at how digital signage, otherwise known as narrow casting, could become a useful tool in your arsenal.

When it comes to simply displaying information in a cost-effective manner, it’s hard to beat a printed sign. Yet digital signs are popping up ever more frequently, and you can understand why. Last year, for example, British Airways used a digital screen in London’s Piccadilly for its ‘Look Up’ campaign, with a little boy pointing up at real planes as they flew high above the screen. Software was able to track actual flight data so that the boy was always pointing directly at a plane, which was identified on the screen. Clever stuff. So where does that leave those of you printing ‘traditional’ signs when the arguments for using digital screens seem so compelling?

Roll-fed UV printers rely on image quality to justify their price tag but how well does the Acuity 1600 LED acquit itself? Nessan Cleary puts it to the test.

Elsewhere in this issue we’ve looked at UV LED curing so it seemed appropriate to test Fujifilm’s Acuity 1600 LED printer this month. This is a roll-fed UV printer that is based on a Mimaki chassis, though the print engine is all down to Fujifilm. The printheads are Fujifilm Dimatix Q class heads, which are the same industrial class heads used in the more expensive Inca Onset printers that Fujifilm also sells.

This entry-level solvent printer promises good image quality at a reasonable price. But what’s it like to live with? Nessan Cleary asked user Alan White of FastSigns Crawley.

Despite all the predictions of their demise, solvent printers remain the backbone of many wide-format print producers, particularly small bureaux. They're relatively cheap - from around £12,000 to £30,000 for most models – and there’s quite a few to choose from. They can generally produce good quality results suitable for outdoor display graphics for a wide range of different applications from banners to vehicle graphics. This month we've been looking at just one model - Epson's SureColor SC-S30600, the most affordable of its solvent printers. We spoke with user, designer Alan White of FastSigns Crawley, which installed a SureColor S30600 two years ago. His immediate comment on the machine was that “there’s not much downtime on it.”

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This is not the cheapest printer but is it good value for money? Nessan Cleary puts it to the test.

SwissQ Print has built up a good reputation for the quality of its flatbed printers so I’ve been looking forward to testing one of these. There are four printers in all, ranging from the entry-level Oryx to the top end Nyala, recently updated to the Nyala2. For the test we got our hands on the mid-range Impala.