Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Large-format, display-graphics, digital color - from agonizingly slow to ultra-fast

“Older people” (and I’m speaking about “reprographers”) can, I’m sure, remember the early versions of large-format, display-graphics-capable “ink-jet” printers. At around $25,000 for a 36” wide-unit, output was blazing ……. well, uh, SLOW …… it took nearly an hour to print one 36” x 48” full-color poster (in the “best quality” mode.)

I saw the following announcement in the most recent on-line issue of news:


The Inca Onset S20 prints on a wide variety of materials efficiently and very cost-effectively. With the capability to print edge to edge on substrates of 3.14 m x 1.6 m (124 inches x 63 inches) and 50 mm (2 inches) thick, at production speeds of up to 310 sqm/hr (62 beds/hr) (approximately 3,300 sq ft/hr), it also features a selectable gloss control to produce finishes from matt, through satin to high gloss, depending on the application. This brings massive versatility in the printing of POS material for customers with screen printing backgrounds such as Euro PLV. By adding the Inca Onset S20 to its screen printing equipment, in particular its two- and five-color Thieme presses, Euro PLV is now able to handle the cost-effective short-run production of a multitude of POS displays including totems, stands, cutouts, arches and shop windows displays.

A large-format display graphics printer that prints that fast is truly blazing ….. well, uh, FAST. However, I wonder if that will be considered “fast” 5 or 6 years from now.

And, now, for OCE’s most recent announcement about the OCE ColorWave 600:


Océ NV has introduced the Océ ColorWave 600 Poster Printer. This system is the fastest in its class, producing robust, instant-dry prints at speeds of up to 106 square meters per hour. Prints are cut-to-size, ready for immediate use and feature outstanding Océ CrystalPoint quality. All produced using clean, green technology. Display graphics companies, offset printers and retailers can use this system to increase throughput and reduce production costs for quick-turnaround, Point-of- Purchase (POP) posters and event materials.

Dale Mortimer, Director of Marketing, Océ Display Graphics Systems, said, "POP campaigns are moving at lightspeed. They have to be produced in much shorter timeframes and tailored for individual customers and regions. Print providers have to produce shorter runs and turnaround jobs faster. We developed the Océ ColorWave 600 Poster Printer to meet the need that print providers and retailers have for a faster POP and low operational costs."

With its production print speeds, the Océ ColorWave 600 Poster Printer helps print providers meet their clients' tight deadlines, while confidently delivering consistently high quality output. It produces up to 106 sqm (1141 sqft) per hour. That means a company can print up to 1700 A1-size posters in one eight-hour shift. It also features set printing, so a print provider can print and deliver an entire point-of-sale campaign—including banners, posters and flyers – in a single business day. Retailers can use it to print campaign materials in house, which enables them to quickly react to a competitor's promotions.

Print providers no longer have to wait for prints to dry with the Océ ColorWave 600 Poster Printer. It uses patented Océ CrystalPoint imaging technology to produce instantly dry, water-resistant prints that are cut-to- size and ready for immediate mounting. Up to six rolls of media from 29.7 cm to 106.7 cm (11 to 42 inches) wide can be loaded into the printer, so the system is always ready to produce materials of varying widths, eliminating the need to change media between jobs. Being able to use different media widths also eliminates manual trimming for standard sized jobs.

Shifting the production of point-of-purchase posters to the Océ ColorWave 600 Poster Printer reduces labor and media costs significantly. Operators can be freed up for other tasks, since the system can run unattended at full production speed and no manual trimming is required. The Océ ColorWave 600 Poster Printer reduces media costs as well. It delivers high quality prints on a range of economical, uncoated paper and specialty media.

The Océ ColorWave 600 Poster Printer is based on the same technology as the Océ ColorWave 600 wide format printer for technical document systems. Specially featured for the display graphics market, the Océ ColorWave 600 Poster Printer uses Océ TonerPearls solid toner and Océ CrystalPoint imaging technology to obtain the best print results. The unique Océ CrystalPoint technology produces consistent, high quality prints.

With Océ TonerPearls toner, there's no fine dust, odor or emission so the printer can be placed anywhere, even in an office environment. The prints of the Océ ColorWave 600 Poster Printer can be used inside retail stores because there are no emissions or fumes coming from them. The system's ergonomic design makes it very easy to use. An operator standing in one spot can access nearly all functional areas of the printer, including the touch-screen operator panel, front loadable media drawers, Océ TonerPearl cartridges and the top media delivery tray.

Joel’s further comments: Reprographers were the first print-houses with short-run, large-format digital-color output devices. Over the years, however, most of the “traditional” screen printing companies have caught up and surpassed the large-format digital-color capabilities of most reprographers. Reprographers, in my opinion, let that opportunity slip away, but it was probably a conscious choice, considering that A/E/C printing demand was very high for reprographers, during the period when screen printers were adapting to “digital.”

Today, an industry friend e-mailed me a link to Circle Graphics’ web-site. CG is now 8 years old, generating sales of $65 million! And, they were not even in the screen printing business (at least that I’m aware of.) I can only conclude that there is a “lot” of large-format display-graphics color business “out there”. Are you getting your fair share? With “Riot Color”, ARC is obviously pursuing that market in a serious way.

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