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Innovative inks, printers, media will improve wide-format inkjet printing potential for textiles, décor, packaging, and 3D signage Print E-mail


Wide-format inkjet printers, inks, RIP software Six themes of focus for FLAAR Reports during 2017

We look forward to a productive year in all aspects of wide-format inkjet printing: inks, media, printers, software, color management, and all facets of printing workflow: cutting, trimming, coating and/or laminating.

When we go to the major printer and signage trade shows around the world:

  • SGI (Sign Middle East, Dubai), in January
  • Arlon
  • APPPEXPO (Shanghai, in March)
  • ISA (USA)
  • FESPA, this year in Germany
  • Sign Africa, Africa Print, FESPA Africa (Johannesburg)
  • SGIA (USA)
  • Sign Istanbul
  • Plus other expos that we are considering, especially in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.

We study all aspects of large-format inkjet printing (plus T-shirt printers and desktop-sized UV-curing printers). So we do all sizes from desktop up through 5-meter, and all inkjet technologies include single-pass.

We also keep track of all major print head brands, and what kinds of inks they are good for (and which kinds of inks their heads are still working towards improvement).

Although we study the complete workflow (even inception: digital photography and scanning), for 2017 we will be focusing on the following six aspects.

Décor has definite potential to grow during 2017 and 2018. Our first FLAAR Reports will be a glossary and discussion of “everything which is décor: inside and outside; homes, offices, malls, airports”

We will then show which printers (which size, which kind of materials handling), which print heads, which inks are best for each aspect of décor.

We will cover floors, walls, ceilings, plus of course all the textile aspects (curtains, upholstery) but much much more: glass, ceramic tile, wallpaper, and several kinds of flooring. Single pass printing for inkjet-printed flooring is one of several Holy Grails.

So we will cover MUCH more than just fine art giclee and wallpaper. We will cover entire walls, entire buildings: printers, print heads, RIP software, color management, printers, which inks for which materials, etc.

Textile printing, all five kinds of inks, will continue to be a focus of FLAAR Reports, with textile printing manager Maria Renee Ayau and Dr Nicholas working also as consultants around the world on textile printer topics.

We continue to cover TRENDs, but also will prepare educational material for print shop owners and managers (these FLAAR Reports will also be helpful to distributors).

Although our research on textile printers covers WIDE-format (and even single-pass sophistication), we will also continue our research on T-shirt printers, best done in-house as soon as a T-shirt printer arrives for long-range evaluation and reviews. For large-format and single-pass printers, it is best when we are at the factory and their own demo room.

3D Signage, 3D (inkjet printed) architectural decoration: everything 3D which you can learn to accomplish without the need to have or use a “3D printer.”

We will focus on which printers, which materials, which cutters, and which software can allow your print shop to really move ahead of competition. Pablo M. Lee will work especially on the flatbed cutter and design aspects of 3D signage.

We are especially interested in faux-3D printable plastic sheets which are more impressive than old-fashioned lenticular.

FLAAR already has lots of experience, both with 3D printers (rapid prototypers). However for 3D signage does not need a 3D printer!

Plus we have staff which are adept at 3D scanning, a good way to start your journey into the world of the third dimension.

Packaging, of many sizes and materials. But we will focus on applications other than tubular packaging (since that is already well digitized).

We will work on wide-format inkjet openings in areas of packing with growth opportunities. Pablo M. Lee (FLAAR Reports) will also document what kinds of printers (flexo) need to be superseded by inkjet printer advances.

Already 8 years ago a printing company told us that if we could find a fully functional digital inkjet wide-format packaging printer, he knew 200 companies who would buy one within eight months.

Crucial with packaging (comparable with décor) is to find, understand, and define each kind of packaging and each kind of material.

We will also list the packaging expos in USA and EU which we recommend, but also regional, such as Gulf Print & Pack in Dubai.

Short-run Digital Presses. We are tempted by label printing but unless we go to LabelExpo Europe we will focus on short-run digital presses for books, brochures, and so much more.

Photo-books and all kinds of options are available.

Although inkjet is great on nice coated stock, during 2016 we tested four major brands of toner-based office printers (plus a high-quality HP Indigo Press) and frankly found that toner-based printers did outstanding color for our samples.

We have 25 people in the FLAAR office and about 17 of them are graphic designers and/or illustrators, so we produce our own test samples.

Innovative Printable Materials:
To go beyond old-fashioned signage, this particular year-2017 theme (goal) is to help print shops and distributors around the world go far beyond antiquated traditional print media. At APPPEXPO, each year in March in Shanghai, there are at least 176 booths of printable materials. So this year we are sending six people to APPPEXPO to make lists of all the different kinds of printable materials exist. This team also makes lists of every single solitary printer of every ink chemistry, but for 2017 at APPPEXPO (and all other expos, starting with SGI in Dubai, then ISA in USA, FESPA in Germany, Sign Africa/Africa Print/FESPA Africa, SGIA in USA, Sign Istanbul) and any other expo whose organizers contact us.

Pablo M. Lee, evaluator and reviewer of media and other printable substrates will coordinate this long-range research project.


Five of these themes each have the need for good inks:
Pigment ink with noticeably better color is a discovery that we would enjoy being flown to ink company demo rooms to see, witness, experience, and then write up.

An ink which can print on PE (technical textile, to replace PVC for signage) is an ink which does not yet (fully, adequately) exist. Not all UV-cured inks adhere to PE.

Décor covers so many different materials that at least NINE different kinds of inks need to be discussed. We are also looking for even more special inks.

An after-market latex ink that functions world wide on all current models of latex printers is a goal not yet fully reached. We have visited print shops using latex after-market ink with satisfaction, but many other print shops have had issues. HP will sell more printers if there is a third-party latex ink whose chemistry and cartridges work in all situations.

Water-based inks for signage, and for industrial use, is another Holy Grail in the world of wide-format inkjet. By this we mean true water-based inks, not hiding nasty chemicals under green-washing jargon.

We also work with UV-LED ink, and two of us were recently flown to the factory of TRENDVISION to inspect their UV-LED plus their textile inks. Many of the themes we work on utilize flatbed or roll-to-roll UV-curing printers (certain kinds of décor, some kinds of packaging, 3D signage on sandwich board, etc.


FLAAR enjoys working together with ink companies, printer manufacturers, and companies which manufacture or distribute innovative kinds of printable materials: media, substrates, lenticular material, etc.

Pablo M. Lee and Dr Nicholas were at the TRENDVISION factory a few months ago. This allowed us to learn the quality of this brand.

Print heads brands vary in their ability to handle water-based inks, inorganic pigment inks, solvent inks, etc. So we look forward to working together on having FLAAR Reports on specific print head benefits available to our over 700,000 readers a year.

For several of the above applications, flatbed cutters are crucial, and we look forward to working in cooperation with flatbed cutter brands to show the world all the new potential.

Print shop owners, managers, plus distributors, ask us what flatbed cutters we recommend. But we can only evaluate a cutter when we are at their factory demo room.


First posted January 5, 2017.



After-market Ink

Factory Visits Demo Room Visits


Wide Format Printers

This link takes you to textile printers on our sister-site,

Color Management


FESPA Africa 2016 FLAAR Reports Inkjet Printers, Signage, Cutters Laminators, Ink, Substrates
APPPEXPO 2016 Shanghai Coaters and Laminators List, Flaar tradeshow Report
APPPEXPO 2016 Shanghai Coaters and Laminators List, Flaar tradeshow Report
APPPEXPO 2016 UV-Cured Printers, Nicholas Hellmuth, FLAAR Reports
APPPEXPO 2016 Shanghai 3D printers FLAAR Reports
FESPA 2016 wide-format printers, inks and media
SGI Dubai 2016 general introduction FLAAR Reports
APPPEXPO 2016 LED 3D traditional signage FLAAR Reports
APPPEXPO 2016 ink media coater laminator CNC text FLAAR Reports
APPPEXPO 2016 UV textile solvent latex exhibitor list preview based on 2015 set UV Flaar Reports
Textile Printers at APPPEXPO 2015
Textile Printers at APPPEXPO 2015
T-Shirt Printers and Heat Presses at APPPEXPO 2015


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As of June 2019, Dr Nicholas and FLAAR had 3,662 contacts in LinkedIn (and over half a million readers worldwide on the FLAAR network).

Wide Format Inkjet printers, inks, trade shows, consulting.

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