Essential Considerations When Buying Wide-Format Equipment
Many companies provide wide-format printing but only a few do it really well. To help the former become the latter, a well-attended session at the SGIA Expo called “Wide-Format 101” endeavored to provide in-plants and business owners the knowledge they need to find true success in the wide-format segment.
In one segment, Travis Barcelona, Inkjet Team Leader at Nazdar, discussed essential considerations for wide-format producers when selecting equipment.
The type of product you plan to produce will dictate the type of printer you should get, he said.
“If you’re only printing billboards, you don’t need a small picoliter head,” he noted.
But there are many other considerations too, such as training. Buyers must ask up front what is included in the training. For instance, will it cover maintenance? RIP navigation? Profiling? Repair? The training phase will take longer than the installation, he said. Training on wide-format equipment will take between eight and 16 hours.
Barcelona said wide-format buyers often overlook the importance of the printing environment and the influence of temperature and humidity. With too much moisture in the air, he said, “You’re printing on water.” On the other hand with low humidity, “you can get a lot of static.” Optimum humidity levels, he said, should be between 35 and 60 percent, and optimum temperature between 68 and 78 degrees.
“I would highly suggest storing the material in a controlled environment somewhere near the printer,” he said.
Budget between 10 and 15 percent of the cost of the machine for consumables, Barcelona advised, including printheads, which only last one to three years.
Barcelona concluded with a list of 10 reasons why a breakdown occurs:
- Not reading the operator manual
- Improper maintenance
- Poor electrical connections or bad power
- Overrunning the machine’s capability
- Not replacing worn parts when needed and/or ignoring warning signals
- Asking untrained staff to operate equipment
- Scheduling conflicts interrupting maintenance schedules
- Not understanding how equipment works
- Operating personnel simply does not care
- No investment in calibration tools, consumables and continual training
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.