Back In The Wide-format Game
Alvin B. Griffin thought he was out of the wide-format business when his in-plant’s HP 750 became obsolete. Griffin, director of the Graphic Production Center for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, resigned himself to relying on commercial printers to produce large-format products for his customers.
“We put the HP machine out to pasture, and then within two weeks Mutoh introduced their product to us,” Griffin recalls. “I thought I couldn’t afford to get back into the wide-format game, but Mutoh showed us some price points and we identified the operational costs. We were able to buy technology that, five years ago, we couldn’t touch.”
So two years ago, the in-plant installed a Mutoh 1604 roll-fed machine. The use of eco-solvents, along with its high print resolution and low operating costs made it an easy sell to management. In fact, the first machine was such a hit, that the shop recently installed a second unit—this one a Mutoh ValueJet 1608 hybrid flatbed.
Griffin says he added the second wide-format printer due to the demand for more volume. The hybrid machine allows the 14-employee in-plant to print on flat substrates like foam board and other hard materials, while the roll-fed machine produces projects on vinyl substrates.
“We did a study and were able to identify some really significant savings right off the bat,” Griffin maintains. “We brought the equipment in, and the program just grew from there.”
The Charlotte-based in-plant now can produce jobs including yard signs, vinyl banners, magnets for the sides of cars and short-run posters.
“The big justification was to bring this work back inside,” Griffin contends. “We are seeing a return on our investment of 1,100 percent.”
The shop recently completed a project that produced 400 vinyl posters (24x36˝) with grommets for use in the school district’s cafeterias. Griffin notes that both pieces of equipment are easy to operate; the in-plant’s employees got up-to-speed with just one day of training.