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Digital wide-format printers have the versatility and capability to print directly to non-traditional materials. Melony Rocque-Hewitt looks at how this is creating new niche areas for PSPs.

A sheet of glass worth £90 is not very exciting. However, take the aforementioned sheet, print an image to its underside direct using a digital flatbed printer, and the same sheet of glass not only looks a whole lot more attractive but it’s probably worth somewhere in the region of £300.

Could you be doing something for your country as well as for yourself by sending more print abroad? Susan Haird, acting chief executive of UK Trade and Investment, explains that help is on hand to enable you to do so and offers her top tips.

Sophie Matthews-Paul assesses the printer EFI Vutek GS200 in a live demonstration environment in the US.

The world’s first Wide Format Print Shop Live at Fespa Americas, held in Orlando at the end of February, provided an opportunity to take a close look at the Vutek GS2000 2m UV-curable option from EFI, from initial delivery and set-up through to continuous running at the show.

Sophie Matthews-Paul provides guidelines on getting the quality you expect.

It’s a bit like like buying a new car; we all want a bargain but most of us also need a quality motor that won’t let us down and will match the claimed running costs and service charges. And, of course, we would like it to hold its value as the years pass to make sure that it’s been a worthwhile purchase. A wide-format inkjet printer is a similar type of investment, but it also needs to be able to return a profit.

We give you the heads up on what you can expect in terms of large-format digital developments at Sign and Digital UK at the NEC, 12 – 14 April.

The regular flow of investment and installation stories coming through since the start of 2011 supports what all the market indicators have suggested – that large-format digital inkjet is still growing apace and that the sector will see continued equipment purchasing through the year. The last Image Reports Widthwise Report (summer 2010), which analysed data from over 200 UK and Ireland printers involved in large-format, showed that 72% were planning to buy new equipment specifically to take them into new niches/markets and indications from the current data being polled is that this continues to be the case. So, it’s a safe assumption that many of you will be looking to see what’s new on the market and therefore be a likely visitor to Sign and Digital UK at the NEC this April.

Melony Rocque-Hewitt takes a look at some of the more unusual niche markets opened-up by digital wide-format print.

Digital print technology is at the stage where anything can be realised. Here we look at how some companies have capitalised on the possibilities of wide-format to grow and evolve their businesses and in doing so, have created new market areas.

Would you pay more for a simpler tax system? According to a recent poll of small businesses, over half would. But, given that’s not going to happen anytime soon, Ray Abercromby, partner at BTG Tax, gives his top tips for cutting through some of the red tape.

One time photo lab turned large-format print printer, Contact Photographic Services continues to push the envelope as the 2000th company to buy into Océ’s Arizona print technology uses it to find new markets.

Sophie Matthews-Paul finds the Roland VersaUV LEC-540 machine is much more than a wide-format printer.

Many in the large-format print space today want to create all sorts of shapes, sizes and finishes away from conventional indoor and outdoor applications. As a result there have been machines coming to the fore which have a lot more to offer than just their broad width.

When we remind ourselves about the early days of wide-format digital technology one thing we’ll all acknowledge is that we were pretty limited by the inks and materials available, and how well the machines of the day could handle them. If the results came out well on our chosen substrate, then we were pretty satisfied; if the end product wasn’t fit for purpose, then the ink tended to get blamed.

Wide-format digital print is all about ink and its inherent behaviour during the processes we expect it to endure. For machine manufacturers, it’s the element in their equipment that actually proves the unit is as good as it claims to be. Ink also represents the part of the printing process which tends to play a major role in carrying the responsibility for quality even though it is dependent on machinery and technology for being transferred from cartridge or bottle through to the printhead nozzles and jetted onto the material beneath.

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