Wed, Aug

With little over a fortnight to go before Drupa I’m wondering whether the spurt of investment we’ve seen in finishing equipment for the wide-format arena in the last couple of years has slowed with a bigger injection of cash now stimulating high levels of pre-press/design product take-up? Let me know your thoughts.

Are we about to see a price war? Noting Graphtec GB’s move to cut the costs of its FC8000 and CE5000 plotter/cutters by up to 30% one wonders if it’s a sign of things to come among other manufacturers and suppliers - or just a lucky break for those that want one of the Graphtec machines!

Textile is still way down the list of capabilities offered by UK wide-format print companies according to data collected in the new Widthwise 2012 poll. And textile printers are way down the new kit wish list of the sector too – so what’s holding us back? You can read the full report when it’s published just in time for Drupa on 3 May. A downloadable PDF will be available at: http://www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/widthwise2012

It’s always great to see companies awarded for outstanding work, so well done to those who clinched a Sign and Digital UK Award last week. Please remember that we run a gallery of unusual and thought provoking wide-format print in Image Reports each month. If you have recent jobs that you are particularly proud of, please send me a 300dpi JPG of the print ‘in-situ’ and a few lines explaining what was so unusual about it and the chances are it will make it into the gallery.

What do you think to this anti-bacterial printing service being introduced by Quantum-UV Technologies then? The general consensus seems to be that we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what is possible with inkjet technologies - with huge potential beyond print. It’s great to see that here’s a really unusual inkjet development that is print based.

Will you be taking your in-house designers with you to Sign and Digital UK? It may be worth it because increasingly it’s their creative juices and technical capabilities that can make the difference between your company becoming a front runner or remaining an also ran. If you don’t have the time to make such arrangements now for Sign and Digital, perhaps think about Drupa.

Are the Budget announcements likely to help or hinder your business do you think? Both the Forum of Private Business and BPIF have mixed feelings on the issue, which I guess will be pretty representative of those running the businesses they champion. But perhaps you have a different view. If so let me hear it.

Have you turned your hand to textile printing yet? I’m trying to get a measure of how far this option has permeated the wide-format digital inkjet print sector’s consciousness given the length of time it’s been mooted as the great next thing. All the signs are good (no pun intended!), but there still seems to be a reticence when it comes to really embracing the idea. Let me know your thoughts.

The Drupa effect is now kicking in with exhibitors beginning to make their pre-show announcements on the new products and services launching at the show in May. Obviously we’ll bring you the news as we get it, but it’s also worth keeping an eye on our brand new website where the Drupa Preview will be available to view from the beginning of April. And let us know what you think of the changes we’ve made to the website, which is now easier to navigate and provides various new features such as Talking Point video interviews.

Well the question over what’s happening at McKenzie Clark has been answered, only to raise another over how many more print providers are ripe for the picking. My guess is quite a few. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the face of print as it becomes part and parcel of a more integrated ‘solutions’ led industry is it? Let’s discuss.

It’s something of a rhetorical question, but don’t you want a business improvement project that will bring you in an extra £1m worth of work this year? Hollywood Monster claims to have just that, so it might be worth learning a lesson or two from what it’s doing - not least of all by using more apprentices. I know there are print companies that have found this a difficult path to take for various reasons, but it must be worth a rethink…

It was clear from Fespa Digital that UK wide-format printers are very actively seeking ways in which to expand their remit in this competitive marketplace. The 2012 Widthwise Report from Image Reports, due for publication later this spring, should provide a clear picture of the state of the UK/Ireland wide-format sector to help you better position your company and its offerings. A huge thank you to all of those printers who have already undertaken the survey that forms the basis of this report. If you have not already done so, please do so at http://survey.infotrends.com/widthwise.htm

How well do you know your customers, and well do they know you? According to Canon’s new Insight Report, not very well. Over 400 print buyers across Europe were asked for their input into this report, which certainly does not focus on wide-format, but nevertheless perhaps reflects the general need for print companies of all types to build better relationships. What do you need to help you do that?

How big a deal is succession planning for family businesses these days? The Forum of Private Business certainly thinks it’s of national importance, so how relevant do you consider it to be in today’s print sector, which was practically built on small family owned firms.