Major Wide-Format Expansion in Illinois
Wide-format printing continues to grow at Lake Land College Print and Mail Services. It now makes up more than 60% of the Mattoon, Illinois, in-plant’s work, accounting for a revenue increase of $226,000 over last year’s sales.
To keep up with the daily deluge of demand, the 20-employee in-plant recently expanded its operation with two new wide-format printers to increase its substrate options, speed, and print width. The shop added:
- An EFI Pro 30f flatbed printer, with a printable area of 80x120” and the ability to print on media up to 4” thick.
- A Roland TrueVIS LG-640 UV LED 64” printer/cutter.
In recent months, the in-plant also added a Trotec laser engraver and an Epson WorkForce Pro WF-C878R multifunction color inkjet printer. Supervisor David Earp spotted most of this equipment at last year’s PRINTING United Expo.
“We went there to specifically look for a new flatbed and a laser engraver,” he says.
Though he didn’t intend to get the Roland UV LED printer at the time, he and his team stopped by the Roland booth last year to discuss an issue they were having with their Roland TrueVIS VG2-540. Decals they printed on it were curling up. At the booth, they learned about the instant-drying benefits of UV printing, which sparked an interest in the TrueVIS LG-640. Earp says he’s glad he attended the Expo.
“I absolutely suggest, if you can afford it, get to the show and talk to the experts,” he advises. “There’s just so many things [there] that can improve your business.”
The new flatbed replaces an EFI Pro 24f LED flatbed, expanding the bed size from 50x100” to 80x120”.
“Speed was the name of the game,” says Earp. “It’s a fire every day trying to get jobs done, and so we went from four print heads to 12 print heads, and so we’re able to print about two-and-a-half times as fast.”
The printer, combined with an existing Summa F1832 flatbed finishing system, is being used to produce large volumes of campus signage, as well as awards, plaques, acrylic wall graphics, and more. The in-plant also prints such items for local hospitals, school districts, and area printers.
The shop’s two Roland roll-fed printer/cutters are doing a brisk business in banners.
“We did over 7,000 banners in the months of June and July,” Earp notes.
They also print a lot of decals, window stickers, car clings, pole flags, and similar items.
With annual revenues of $1,088,000, the in-plant is never without wide-format work, demand is so high, he says.
“We do no advertising,” he notes. “It’s all word of mouth.”
“Installation is where the big money is,” adds Earp – and the big savings. He recently got an outside bid for printing and installing a 12x20’ wall graphic and it came to $22,000, he says.
“We charged them $1,500, and I probably still made $1,000,” he says. Overall, the in-plant has saved the college hundreds of thousands of dollars in wide-format costs, he says.
Earp advises in-plants not already providing wide-format printing to start doing it.
“We’ve heard forever that print’s going away and everything’s going online,” he says. “One of the reasons why we got in was we wanted to start printing things that you couldn’t put online.”
The in-plant also expanded into engraving services with the new Trotec laser engraver.
“For some reason I thought we needed more business,” quips Earp. “It fits a little bit of a niche for some customers we have already.” The in-plant is engraving a lot of acrylic and wood awards.
The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-C878R multifunction color inkjet printer, he says is printing a lot of NCR forms. Because the inkjet device has no fuser, pages don’t curl, making binding less troublesome.
But the new EFI Pro 30f flatbed printer is the real jewel of the operation. With the size and speed increases it introduced, jobs have increased, Earp says. In fact, he adds, the shop could probably keep two of those flatbeds busy.
Related story: Print-Cut Combo Leaves In-plant ‘Overwhelmed With Work’
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 more than 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, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.