|Offset printing companies gradually acquiring UV-cured flatbeds|
Twice in the last few months I have flown to a city to inspect and evaluate a UV printer and it turns out that the company I have been directed to is an offset printing company that has just bought a UV flatbed priner.
Three times in the last months I have landed in a city thousands of miles away to test a UV printer and it turns out this printshop has both offset presses and also screen printing equipment in the same building.
So clearly commercial printers with offset presses and screen printing companies are a major component of the kinds of printshops that are buying UV-curable flatbed printers.
The other kinds of printshops that are buying UV-cured printers are
These visits are part of our unique manner to learn the true pros and cons of a wide-format inkjet printer. We call them site-visit case studies. This means that Dr Hellmuth or one of the Technical Writers of FLAAR visit a printshop somewhere in the world that has a printer that we are interested in evaluating.
We have done site-visit case studies in Athens (Greece, not Georgia), on the Island of Malta, frequently in Guatemala, twice recently in different parts of Slovenia, an hour away from Milan, several times in Germany, in Istanbul, Portugal, often in Toledo Ohio and St Louis, Missouri (where FLAAR has offices), and so on.
So for 2009 we decided it would be helpful to document the roughly dozen top categories of kinds of printshops that are switching to new wide-format inkjet technology: sign franchise print shops, screen printing companies, and commecial printers using offset presses are three major categories.
Sheet-fed and web fed offset
Some offset printing companies long ago tested wide-format inkjet printers: usually an Encad or HP Designjet. A few were tempted by Epson. In those years these printers were slow.
Today water-based printers from Canon are faster; Epson is less slow than before; and some HP models are faster (some Z-series are as slow now as Epson was in the past; the lack of speed is to achive higher quality and utilize 8 to 12 colors).
Narrow web fed digital printers are the fastest. Sheet-fed wide-format has not really become a realistic format (at least not yet).
The question is whether to go for UV-cured, water-based, solvent-based, or wait for the new inks that are coming out later in 2009 and 2010.
Gravure has the reputation of being high quality, expensive and thus used less and less. But since gravure can be used for packaging printing, it comes into my area of interest. As magazine runs become lower and lower, and as magazine companies may desire specialized editions for each world area, then short-run digital presses and narrow-format inkjet offer potential: not the world of gravure is not the world of wide-format and even less of grand format.
During 2009 I will keep my eyes and ears open to see if companies that favor letter press printing process can find something in the digital world that is useful to them.
Offset printing companies are also acquiring narrow format wide-format inkjet presses
Yes, variable data short run digital presses are popular with commercial printers: HP Indigo, Xeikon, Xerox iGen4 and a host of new printers from Oce and Canon are sought after as well. But it is worth noting how many offset printing companies are also acquiring wide-format inkjet presses.
Now you know why both Oce and Xerox offer mild-solvent or eco-solvent printers. Both Oce and Xerox have access to commercial printers already. And of course Oce also offers UV-cured flatbed printers, the Oce Arizona 250 GT and the newer Arizona 350.
Consultants available to assist offset printer companies to take advantage of digital inkjet printing
Although I have been to the HP Indigo factory in Israel and to the electric ink factory of Indigo (also in Israel), and although I have spent an entire day inside the Xerox iGen3 facilities in Rochester, and although many of the clients for which I consult are using, or about to purchase, a variable data short run digital press, FLAAR tends to provide consulting related to inkjet printing, primarily wide-format, and especially UV-cured flatbed, hybrid, combo, and roll-to-roll; solvent inkjet (full, lite-, mild-, eco-, and bio-solvents), as well as textile printing and water-based printers (the pros and cons of Canon, Epson, and HP).
Web and sheet-fed offset printing companies are tending to look at a wide range of what inkjet offers. At a trade show what you get is PR, claims, and wishful thinking. FLAAR provides a reality check: plus we tell you what is coming next year, and the year after, so you can prepare for the future as well as prefer for today and tomorrow.
Wide Format Printers