Who doesn’t like new technology? New iPhone out and you’ve got to get one, right (even though your current one works just fine)? Let’s face it, technology’s goal is to make our lives easier and more efficient. This is no different with the sign industry. Recently, we invested in one of the latest tools used in the sign industry, a flatbed printer.
Why would we need another printer, you might ask? As our business has been growing, we began seeing several of our larger customers needing more and more flat-stock signs such as commercial property signs, higher quantities of yard signs, and displays used in trade shows. We also saw some opportunities to improve the way we manufactured some of the other signs we produced in-house, such as lobby signs.
So, what did we get?
In November of 2015, we attended the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) Expo in downtown Atlanta. This expo, while not quite as large as the annual International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo, featured all types of graphic equipment, including all the latest printers. The benefit of a show such as these is that you learn about the different options on the market in one place.
At the show we narrowed down our choices, and from there we worked with the vendors we thought had the product that would best meet our needs. We scheduled demos with each of them and had them all print the same files on their machine so that we could compare the print quality of each product.
Some of the features that we liked about this model were:
- Due to the way the print heads are configured, ink is uniformly laid down on the substrate, virtually eliminating banding on the print.
- LED curing lights instead of the halogen lights – these have a longer lifespan.
- The ability to print with white ink, which allows you to print on dark substrates and still have a brilliant image. This adds a lot of additional print capabilities we didn’t have in the past.
- Their support model is more customer focused. It also helps that they are located close to our facility.
Being as close to their facility as we are, we were the first to receive one of these new printers and were featured in their press release announcing the entrance in the market.
So, what do we hope to gain?
As the press release announcing their first installation mentions, first and foremost, we are looking to continue producing high quality output with reduced costs.
Prior to our getting the flatbed, in order to produce our flat-stock signs, we would print on vinyl and then apply the vinyl to the substrate such as coroplast, foam board, MDO, acrylic, etc. Now we can print directly to these materials, by lying the materials on the 4′ x 8′ bed. This eliminates the need for first printing on vinyl and the labor to apply it. It also greatly reduces the amount of time required to produce them.
Another benefit we see in having a flatbed is the ability to “back print” images (also known as second surface printing). By printing on the back of a clear substrate such as acrylic, along with white ink, allows us to produce signs, such as lobby signs, with a super-glossy finish. It also allows us to produce custom colors on white substrates such as PVC in making dimensional letters used for lobby signs.
Do you have a sign project that requires graphics on a flat material? If so, give us a call or click here to fill out our quote form to see if your project is a good candidate to put this machine to work