Digital Output Mar 24

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MARCH 2024 Thin Magnetic Material | pg. 16 Integrate with RIPs | pg. 18 Overlaminates for Vehicle Wraps | pg. 31 DIGITALOUTPUT.NET VOL XXX, NO. 3 • $6.95 USA

18 March 2024 | Digital Output { 3 } Departments Editor’s Input ................................................................ {4 In the Aisles {6 Application Spotlight ................................................ {14 Sign Business {16 Plus Marketplace Spotlight ............................................... { 11 Showcase Advertisers { 24 Advertiser’s Index/Companies Mentioned { 25 ON THE COVER: Hin Lin Plastic & Screen Printing Ltd. of Hong Kong creates graphics with the help of its swissQprint Karibu. See page 26. features
} RIP Evolution Integrating Third-Party Apps Share real-time information across the shop. by Digital Output Staff
} Contributing to Profitability E cient Roll Printers Find endless bene�its with these devices. by Melissa Donovan
} Ensuring Success Overlaminates Protect Vehicle Graphics Durable, �lexible vehicle wraps with a buffer. by Cassandra Balentine 18 26 6 16 31

We roll into our March issue with extensive coverage on roll-to-roll (R2R) printers. With multiple options at your disposal, how do you choose the right one for your business? Do you base it on application, ink type, or size? While any of the criteria is applicable, we took the time to look at how today’s devices offer efficiency.

Being top of mind for print shop owners, achieving efficiency with one’s R2R printer is always beneficial. Especially as these devices are commonly the workhorses of a business. In Contributing to Profitability we look at the different ways roll devices provide efficiency from media handling mechanisms that eliminate manual touches to smart software technologies.

While any of the criteria is applicable, we took the time to look at how today’s devices offer efficiency.

Visit us online to view a chart divided by ink type that lists various R2R devices currently on the market. Also, check out our webinar on this topic.

That’s not all for this issue! RIP Evolution focuses on RIPs and integrating with third-party applications like ERP, MIS, and web to print for increased production speed and minimized error.

It is highly suggested that printed vehicle graphics utilize a quality overlaminate to ensure success for the intended lifecycle. These graphics regularly face harsh elements. Read more in Ensuring Success.

The Sign Business column studies thin gauge magnet materials and how they are revolutionizing this segment of the market. Our Application Spotlight focuses on a jack-of-all-trades print provider and its work for the NHL Carolina Hurricanes. Finally, we gear up to cover the ISA Sign Expo event this April with our first of two previews of the show.



Thomas Tetreault


Melissa Donovan


Cassandra Balentine


Melissa Mueller


Sarah M. White


Olivia Cahoon, Tim Greene, Mark Hanley, Melinda Tetreault, Amber Watson



Thomas Tetreault


Amanda Doyon

978-921-7850, Ext. 170

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Thomas Tetreault

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March 2024 | Digital Output { 4 } CAPTURE CREATION OUTPUT FINISHING

Must-Attend Event

ISA Sign Expo Preview

The ISA Sign Expo takes place April 10 to 12, 2024 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. Hosted by the International Sign Association (ISA), the show is a must-attend event for anyone in the sign industry.

Admission to the expo includes walking the show floor to witness close to 500 exhibitors, The Wrap Experience, and Learning Lounge.

The Wrap Experience, powered by ISA and The Wrap Institute, is an interactive booth area that surrounds the Never Stop Learning Wrap Contest. The Wrap Experience brings together companies and products to inspire new revenue opportunities. During the Never Stop Learning Wrap Contest, Justin Pate moderates three instructors who train teams in wrap skills.

The Learning Lounge, booth 1770, features free 30 minute sessions, which offer high-level takeaways to grow your sign and graphics business. From business evolution strategies to tactical fabrication techniques, there’s something for everyone.

Walk the Floor

Here’s a look at what some of the companies exhibiting at the ISA Sign Expo plan on highlighting at the event.

Banner Ups/Budnick Converting, booth 2245, showcases its Banner Ups adhesive tabs, which allow for the creation of durable banners. Installation is a breeze—peel and stick them onto banner corners. Clear PowerTape offers superior strength compared to standard banner hem tape. Clear PowerTape eliminates the need to hem banner edges. Experience the benefits firsthand with a discounted Banner Ups Starter Kit available at the show. INFO# 200

Brite Frame Fabricators, booth 1079, displays custom silicone edge graphic (SEG) frames, light boxes, and trade show displays and environments. The booth contains a range of products that are customizable, featuring over 20 different extrusion profiles, multiple lighting options, and bending capabilities. Need a quick quote or detailed CAD drawings? Look no further. The team specializes in rapid turnaround for complex projects. Frame profiles are also offered by 20-foot lengths if stocking and cutting yourself is preferred. INFO# 201

1) GF, booth 725, spotlights GF 885
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RoughMark Cast, which is poised to be a definitive wall wrap material. 2) ORAFOL, booth 1712, presents its premium vinyl graphic films, digital media, laminating films, reflective products, and industrial tapes used in signage, graphics, and digital printing.

Winning in Business

Moving from Direct Mail

Mail Works, Inc. of Johnson City, TN was once solely a direct mail firm that has since morphed into a design, print, wide format, and mailing business.

Over time it became apparent that large volumes of generic direct mail were trending lower while personalized mail, variable data, landing pages, and quick response codes were positively affecting rates of response. Mail Works invested in digital presses, variable data software, and a graphic designer with printing experience.

Standing Confident

Having been a professional mail house first, and doing that far better than others who also “did mailings”, gave clients confidence when Mail Works offered its printing services and other products. Equipment purchases for bindery and print embellishments followed to cut, fold, punch, and bind the digitally produced images. Sales in print now far exceeds mailing revenues per annum.

The offerings from Graphic Whizard allow the company to produce printed materials on devices truly made for the digital print space as opposed to the use of older equipment from the offset world. The Graphic Whizard equipment—four machines installed simultaneously— allow for enhanced product, unattended production, advanced lamination processes, true digital creasing/

folding, and die cutting of multiple substrates. Years of research and expense attending shows were invaluable leading to Mail Works’ choice of all equipment.

Everything Matters

Winning in business for Mail Works is having a highly diverse client base so that when one sector is slow, others are not. Listening to client needs and evaluating the feasibility of bringing those needs in-house, or not, is critical. Production of collateral products, new product offerings—often with existing capabilities—comes from good client relations.

Most importantly, everything matters—phone call sincerity, production accuracy, thanking clients regularly, being the beneficiary of clients referring you to others, these quality concepts and more keep people employed in a tough business environment. Lastly, surrounding yourself with people who are not just seeking a hourly wage but buy into the company’s process and vision.

Trusted Partner

Graphic Whizard is honored and happy to support Mail Works’ vision. The company specifically installed the Sinajet DF1007-MT Die Cutter, PT 33LSC Laminator with Foil Kit, PT335AKF Creaser Folder, and the 8336SCCM Multi Finisher at Mail Works’ Johnson City, TN location. D

1) Left to right, Jenny Bailey, VP, Mail Works; Chris Harrington, VP, Graphic Whizard; and John Krueger, president, Mail Works.
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Graphic Whizard authorized dealer, Digital Print Solutions ( 2) Mail Works
installed four machines from Graphic Whizard to upgrade its printing
finishing services.

Brother DTG, booth 671, puts smart technology and precision engineering into all types of printing. Visit the booth to view the wide format WF1 latex printer. With proven Brother printheads and water-based latex inks, prints are sharp, saturated, and accurate on a range of materials, including PVC, paper, canvas, and wallpaper. Also on display is the GTX600 Extra Colors mass-production direct to garment printer, which incorporates orange and green inks for more vibrant prints. The direct to film GTX R2R is also on display, which prints directly onto rolls of film with a built-in adhesive applicator and infrared curing system. INFO# 202

CoreBridge, booth 1863, offers innovative business management software to simplify operations, boost productivity, and empower teams. From seamless order and inventory management to customizable dashboards and automated invoicing, CoreBridge is an all-inone solution for business success. The team is on hand to provide live demonstrations, answer questions, and showcase the features that make CoreBridge a game changer for business owners, especially in the print industry. INFO# 203

DAF Products, booth 2641, showcases the Fedrigoni Ri-Jet C50 Ultimate Slide and Tack with Ri-Lam C30. This 12 year cast film is ideal for customizing or branding any type of vehicle or commercial fleet. Easily conformable on any three-dimensional surface. INFO# 204

DGS, booth 819, exhibits its BOARDers Rigid Board Finishing System, a proprietary product designed to build trade show booths, backdrops, and point of purchase (POP) displays using half-inch substrates such as Falconboard, Fomeboard, and Ultraboard. The system includes different shape connectors and trims to cover exposed edges for a professional finish as well as two types of Standee Bases that hold half-inch boards up to 96 inches high. DGS also presents BEEngo! Rigid Board Design Library, a comprehensive portfolio of structural designs such as trade show booths, backdrops, POP displays, and furniture. Each design provides material count, artwork instructions, pre-mapped Sketchup render, cut files, and assembly instructions. INFO# 205

Direct Color Systems, booth 1307, exhibits the Direct Jet UV44DTS and the 1800s small format DTS system. The UV-44DTS is a 4x4-foot UV LED flatbed capable of braille, texture, as well as standard

full-color printing for point of purchase, retail, event, and advertising. The UV-44DTS also offers a print height of 12 inches. The 1800s is a 12x24-inch system with a print height of six or 15 inches. The all-new Vibrahue printer line up is represented by the HUV8DR. Vibrahue is a range of flatbed, hybrid, and roll printers that can be configured with Kyocera or Ricoh Gen6 printheads to meet any application requirement. INFO# 206

Displays2go, booth 2719, promotes purposeful, affordable, and ready-to-ship display and signage solutions. The company caters to sign shop owners with a comprehensive range of highquality frames for all types of posters and small format signage as well as digital signage kiosks and trade show displays. Elevate displays with a diverse selection, meeting the needs of every sign shop owner and signage professional seeking top-notch solutions. INFO# 207

Fluid Color, booth 2108, demonstrates the R70R roll-to-roll LED printer for flexible applications such as window clings, banners, wallpapers, paper, coated stock, and vinyl. It also runs the R84F Turbo flatbed to demonstrate rigid applications such as ACM, fluted plastic signs, wood, acrylic, and point of purchase. INFO# 208

GBC, booth 1113, showcases SEAL precision-engineered wide format laminators with a sturdy uniframe construction. Featured in the booth is the 65 Pro MD, a highproduction, versatile laminator that can run both hot and cold applications. The 65 Pro MD has the

unmatched capability of running speeds of more than 15 feet per minute without sacrificing quality. Also featured is the 62 Base, which is ideal for mounting and laminating pressure-sensitive graphics up to 61 inches in length. Additionally in the booth, the GBC Foton 30 desktop laminator and its flatbed applicator. INFO# 209

GCC America, booth 2023, displays its LaserPro laser engravers. Whether customizing merchandise or mass production, the GCC LaserPro offers a swift and precise solution for engraving and cutting needs. The integrated material database within the machine includes preset configurations for wood, acrylic, glass, and plastic. For those seeking even greater precision and efficiency, GCC LaserPro offers optional enhancements such as the CCD module or AAS Contour Cutting Device. INFO# 210

General Formulations (GF), booth 725, spotlights GF 885

RoughMark Cast, which is poised to be a definitive wall wrap material. Combining the innovative technology of GF’s High-Tack Removable adhesive with the performance of its 2-mil gloss cast vinyl, this multi-surface compatible material changes the way you think about wall wraps. Whether smooth or textured walls, indoor or outdoor, GF 885 offers maximum conformability, durability, and removability. It’s designed for short- or long-term murals on brick, cement, cinder block, and other textured surfaces, and can be used for column wraps and traditional wall graphics. INFO# 211

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3) swissQprint, booth 2308, showcases the Kudu high-end flatbed printer.

HP, booth 1700, highlights the latest innovations in large format printing, textile printing, and cutting solutions. This includes the HP Latex R2000 Plus, the HP Latex 2700 Printer, the STITCH S1000 Printer, and the PageWide XL Pro 10000 Printer—some of the most versatile and productive printers in their categories. Also shown, the newest portfolio in the smaller latex units—the Latex 700 Printer, the Latex 800 W Printer, and the all-new Latex 630 W Printer with a cutter. These printers offer quality, speed, and sustainability for a range of applications. INFO# 212

Jessup Mfg. Co., booth 662, unveils its expanded line of

TenaciousTac high-tack super adhesives, featuring three new products. Whether it’s indoor graphics, outdoor signage, durable labels, or hard-to-adhere-to surfaces, the company’s adhesives have you covered. Plus, it showcases ARMORLam overlaminate materials, the perfect complement to TenaciousTac for an unbeatable combination. Elevate your projects with the reliability and durability of Jessup’s adhesive solutions. INFO# 213

KPMF, booth 857, exhibits with ORAFOL in The Wrap Experience zone. Stop by to check out the latest color change options from the KPMF and 970RA ranges as well as the newest ORAJET and

ORAGUARD products. The hood wrap contest returns for 2024 with opportunities to win big, sign up during the show to participate. INFO# 214

Mutoh, booth 2034, introduces the XpertJet 1462UF, showcasing captivating ADA-compliant braille printing. It also debuts the XpertJet 661UF, presenting innovative features. Explore the advanced capabilities of these printers and experience their top-notch technology. Don’t miss the built-for-professionals ecosolvent Pro Series, designed for superior prints and enhanced productivity. Discover the endless benefits of Mutoh’s UV LED and eco-solvent innovations.

Plus, see the XpertJet 1642WR dye-sublimation printer creating vibrant silicone edge graphic signage. INFO# 215

NuCoat, booth 989, showcases direct to film (DTF) technologies designed for efficiency and precision. Leading the DTF pack is Venom, a robust machine tailored for large-scale production and quality. The Stealth is a sleek DTF model, combining speed with operation. For precision cutting, a DTF cutter offers unmatched accuracy for a variety of materials. Additionally, the booth displays two models of heat presses, each engineered to provide consistent heat distribution for flawless transfers. INFO# 216


Pre-Magnetized 16-Mil Magnet

Introducing pre-magnetized 16-mil magnet, tailored for Indigo, UV offset, and select dry toner machines. Available in 12x18, 13x19, B2, and 28x40 inches, with a 19x25- and a 19x24-inch option coming soon. Unmagnetized alternatives are available for machines incompatible with pre-magnetized sheets, such as most Canon models. Boasting a photoquality PP print surface and PVC-free composition, it ensures impeccable stacking and cutting. Ideal for mailouts, refrigerator magnets, and diverse promotional uses, excluding car magnets. Crafted with a low-density compound, these sheets are 30 percent lighter than competitors, offering a shipping advantage. Visit INFO# 230

Guardian Laminators are an affordable, easy-to-use solution for all of your finishing, laminating, and mounting needs. The Guardian’s intuitive design makes for quick and easy use, maintenance, and cleaning—saving you time on production. Solid, all-steel construction, cold or heat assist models, crowned silicone rollers, upper and lower idler bars, single level NIP adjustment, and easy load drop-in supply mandrels with a centering system provide high-quality performance. Visit, contact Supply55 at 734-668-0755, or email INFO# 231


92ST Digital Wrap Film

Trim USA is proud to introduce 92ST Digital Wrap Film, manufactured by LX Hausys, a division of LG. It has been engineered with installer-friendly features such as repositionability, slideability, air-free technology, and ability to conform to irregular surfaces. Image quality with the new 92ST is outstanding with printable solvent, latex, and UV-curable inks. The LX 809904 laminate that is paired with the media at 1.6-mil contributes to the stretch in compound areas. The laminate is carried on a lay-flat liner and is also printable. For the occasion you need a clear media, you can print on this film. Call 800-642-0959 for more information. INFO# 232

Guardian 65 Cold Laminator $4,295
SUPPLY55, INC. March 2024 | Digital Output { 11 }

ORAFOL, booth 1712, presents its range of premium vinyl graphic films, digital media, laminating films, reflective products, and industrial tapes used in signage, graphics, and digital printing. Visit the booth for an opportunity to try its latest products in a variety of demonstration applications and check out its latest wrap films being installed daily on a vehicle in the booth. INFO# 217

Orbus, booth 1171, debuts the Orbus Display Café, featuring a new custom booth with many of

its most popular portable products. From custom light boxes and backwalls to banner stands and outdoor displays, experience all that Orbus has to offer. Stop by to see new products including the Blaze SEG Light box, MODify Retail Merchandising System, and Acusti-Fi acoustic felt. The company’s best-selling display products are also in the booth, such as the Orient, Blade Lite, and Mosquito banner stands; Hopup collapsible display; Ace-2 A-frame outdoor sign; and Zoom Popup Tent. INFO# 218

Photo Tex Group Inc., booth 1313, demonstrates its Photo Tex Self-Adhesive Fabric with enhanced tack Photo Tex BlockOuts. It also shows the Photo Tex Original (S) version for outdoor windows with no need to laminate along with Photo Tex High Tack using UV inks, which also needs no lamination and is now certified for smooth floors. INFO# 219

PrestoTex, booth 2152, manufactures adhesive-backed, digitally printable wall media. Stop by to see its wall media in person, receive free removable and repositionable printed sample posters, talk with the team, create your own swatch book, and request a free sample roll to be shipped out after the show. INFO# 220

Roland DGA Corporation, booth 1423, exhibits the new EU1000MF—a high-productivity UV flatbed wide format printer for the first time in North America. Also on display, the recently launched VersaOBJECT MO240, a productive and versatile UV benchtop flatbed printer. In addition, Roland demonstrates unique, three-dimensional wallcoverings created using the DG DIMENSE printing solution; and advanced eco-solvent, UV, and resin/latex inkjets from the TrueVIS family. INFO# 221

Rollover AS, booth 309, demonstrates its Rollover Flatbed Applicators. Regardless of media type—such as self-adhesive vinyl applications, road signs, glass application, or banners up to 85 millimeters in thickness—the Rollover ensures an ideal result in minimum time. INFO# 222

SAi, booth 2617, encourages attendees to visit its booth to discover new, yet-to-be-announced software features, including game-changing advancements, and witness the unveiling of other top-secret information. The company showcases the latest and greatest in Flexi print-andcut software and EnRoute CNC software. INFO# 223

swissQprint, booth 2308, showcases the Kudu high-end flatbed printer. It delivers output at up to 3,272 square feet per hour. Designed for 24/7 operation, it features ten color channels and 1,350 dpi resolution. A user-friendly workhorse, Kudu features solid Swiss mechanical engineering that ensures troublefree operation through shift after shift. INFO# 224

Trotec Laser, booth 1855, spotlights the Speedy, Rayjet, and SP series laser cutters, designed specifically with signmakers in mind. Its lasers stand as the epitome of speed, precision, and versatility in the laser engraving and cutting industry, enabling professionals to elevate their sign-making projects to new heights. Attendees see the benefits of integrating Trotec’s lasers into their workflow, including increased productivity, reduced turnaround times, and the capability to execute complex, high-quality signs. INFO# 225

UPM Raflatac, booth 1189, promotes its new line of graphics solutions. UPM Raflatac acquired AMC

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4) UPM Raflatac, booth 1189, promotes its new line of graphics solutions. 5) PrestoTex, booth 2152, manufactures adhesive-backed digitally printable wall media.

AG in Germany, which includes this line of high-quality self-adhesive films and laminates, large format versatile printing and sign films. The booth features an interactive application station where expo attendees can test the material on various surfaces. INFO# 226

Vision Engraving, booth 451, offers desktop-size systems to larger CNC routers and engravers to fit every signmaking need and budget. In the booth, the 2525 CNC Router/Engraver with oscillating knife performs print to cut, and 1624 Pro Engraver creates ADA braille signs. The 25 Series Routers feature multiple options like an auto braille inserter, oscillating knife, and DACS for improved digital finishing. The 1624 Pro Engraver has a 16x24-inch T-slot table and is ideal for light to heavyduty applications. INFO# 227

Yard Sign Ninjas (YSN), booth 2527, is a premier wholesale supplier of fast, top quality, and affordable signage solutions, including recyclable corrugated plastic, polybag, poly-coated cardboard, and magnetic signs, plus innovative, cost-effective, and patented wire stands. With YSN, expect the shortest turnaround times, thanks to digital single-pass printing technology, resulting in unmatched clarity and color vibrancy, coupled with rush service and extensive customization options. INFO# 228

There’s More!

The aforementioned vendors are just some of the many exhibiting at the ISA Sign Expo in April. Our April issue includes a second show preview with additional exhibitors’ plans. D March 2024 | Digital Output { 13 }
#2 #5

Arena Graphics

Supporting Signage for the NHL

Along with presenting information, signage found within stadiums and arenas extend an opportunity to add character and enhance branding.

Jared Ostendorf, owner, Minuteman Press franchise of Fayetteville, NC, is a hockey fan and expert print provider. He aligned his two passions as the go-to print and sign provider of the Carolina Hurricanes NHL hockey team.

Ostendorf took ownership of the Fayetteville Minuteman Press franchise in 2009 and continued to build his business and expertise. The shop operates a 11,000 square foot facility, 5,000 of which is dedicated to printing, 5,000 for signage, and 1,000 for its website work. The print service provider (PSP) staffs 14 employees, in addition to Ostendorf.

Fan to Partner

Minuteman Press of Fayetteville, NC focuses on delivering high-quality products and excellent customer service, landing it a variety of local work.

Wall graphics create an environment more than anything. You can really make a room look completely different using various backgrounds, colors, and use of lights.

— Jared Ostendorf, owner, Minuteman Press franchise of Fayetteville, NC

Since the 2021/22 NHL hockey season, the Carolina Hurricanes has made the PSP’s client list. “I was a season ticket holder prior to becoming a corporate partner. When I heard about the opportunity to become the ‘print and sign provider’ of the Carolina Hurricanes I reached out and had lunch with an executive. After supplying professional references and answering questions centered around their sense of urgency and meeting deadlines, we shook hands and I told them I would do my best to meet their expectations,” comments Ostendorf.

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1) An example of a wall graphic produced by Minuteman Press franchise of Fayetteville, NC for the locker room of the Carolina Hurricanes. 2) A Buffalo Brothers’ wall graphic is found inside of the PNC Arena—home of the Carolina Hurricanes. It was designed, printed, and installed by Minuteman Press franchise of Fayetteville, NC.

For the past three seasons, Minuteman Press of Fayetteville has delivered on that promise. It produces signage regularly for the Carolina Hurricanes, the main tenant of the PNC Arena.

It has done outside graphics for the PNC Arena, signage for the playoffs and win tracker, inside locker room graphics, dasher boards—the decals around the walls of the ice, graphics behind the benches, penalty boxes, and Olympia ice resurfacer wraps.

Tight Turnarounds

When it comes to high-profile clients, an essential part of the job is meeting tight deadlines.

“The first season we did the graphics it was a quick turnaround from the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. With rain in the forecast days ahead and a kickoff tailgate party set for Saturday that same week, we walked into the arena as the crowd was exiting the last regular season game to install new graphics on the benches and penalty boxes. Once traffic cleared, we started outside around 11:00 p.m. We worked through the night to meet the deadline and they were very pleased with the results,” says Ostendorf.

In addition to planning installations around schedules and weather, there is often a corporate timetable to adhere to. “As is expected with an NHL hockey team, everyone affiliated with advertising and promotions for the Carolina Hurricanes is under a timetable. Corporate sponsors pay to advertise for the regular season as

well as the playoffs, so the bulk of our work comes just prior to opening night in October and playoffs in April,” he adds.

On the Walls

Wall graphics present unique creative and branding opportunities for PNC Arena, with each wall a potential canvas.

“Wall graphics create an environment more than anything. You can really make a room look completely different using various backgrounds, colors, and use of lights,” says Ostendorf. “It’s always nice to be a part of the fresh graphics done at the beginning of each year. The head coach Rod Brind’Amour really pushes team play and it’s evident in the artwork the organization creates.”

To encourage and promote team camaraderie, Minuteman Press franchise of Fayetteville, NC worked with the Carolina Hurricanes on a collage featuring its players, installed along the walls of the locker room.

“Each player that is on the current team roster is depicted in the collage. The organization is focused on a team atmosphere. Aside from the player images, there are consistent messages the coaching staff uses—phrases and ideas that provide a consistent message to help get to the end goal, which is another Stanley Cup,” explains Ostendorf.

The locker room wall graphics were produced using Oki ColorPainter wide format printers as well as a Roland DGA Corporation device. For media, it printed to

3M Controltac Graphic Film and a 3M laminate. “We typically use matte laminate on any graphics that are interior so there isn’t much of a glare from interior lights or camera flashes,” shares Ostendorf.

The print provider also handled installation for this job. The entire project took about two hours start to finish.

On the Ice

Three seasons into the partnership and Ostendorf feels lucky to be a corporate partner for the Carolina Hurricanes. “There aren’t many opportunities to see our work on a national level so it’s been extremely rewarding. Everyone we work with within the organization are good people to start, which is the main reason why I think the organization has become so successful in recent years.”

Whether it’s more traditional signage or a modern wall graphic, Minuteman Press franchise of Fayetteville, NC is up to the task. D

See page 25

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Less Weight, More Energy

Thin Magnets

Magnetic and magnetic-receptive materials are well suited for display and point of purchase applications like menus and promotional signs, anything where messaging may change on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The ease of change out is appealing especially to retail workers with little to no experience handling signage.

Magnets come in various thicknesses. Over the years, “thin” materials have become popular. For the purposes of this article, we define thin magnetic material as anything around 7- to 17mil or 0.007 to 0.017 inches thick.

What’s the Buzz?

Thin magnetic material is developed and used by a number of different industries.

For printing, one of the reasons “thin is in” is because it

runs better on printer hardware compared to its thicker gauge counterparts.

According to Stephen McLevey, business development and Flexmag commercial manager, Arnold Magnetic Technologies, the print industry is driving demand. “The material needs to be thinner and lighter so that it can be processed on the printers used in today’s marketplace.”

“The demand is coming from different areas whether it be the need for lighter material, improved printer compatibility, or more costeffective solutions,” adds Brian Ebenger, VP of business development, XCEL.

Education is key and proper communication to our industry is a necessity.

Demand has changed over the years as material and technology improve. “Materials are now available in wider options along

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1) Arnold Magnetic offers thin magnet for most of the common print methods used in the print industry today. 2) Newlife Magnetics’ EM Ultrawide magnet is available in 12-,15-, and 20-mil thicknesses in 54- and 60-inch wide rolls.

with thinner gauges without sacrificing quality. The expansion of applications and uses has also helped drive the want for different gauges,” says Ebenger.

Speaking of applications, Matthew Adams, sales executive NA, Newlife Magnetics, LLC, says thin magnets are used for fridge magnets, promotional mailers, calendars, business cards, photographs, and retail graphics.

According to Magnum Magnetics’ website, another popular application is labels. “Magnetic labels offer a convenient way to organize your warehouse or retail location. You can simply stick labels onto product shelves, inventory areas, or metal filing cabinets and rearrange them as needed.”

Debunking Myths

A common misconception is that the thicker the magnet, the more powerful the attraction. Weary of using thinner magnetic material because of this? You shouldn’t be.

“The statement is true as long as the material is of the same grade. We are able to produce a stronger, thinner magnet by using higher energy materials,” says McLevey.

Newlife Magnetics utilizes highenergy magnet powders to create a thinner magnet. “It matches or surpasses the magnetic holding force of a thicker standard energy magnet,” notes Adams.

“The thickness has no correlation to the actual magnetic power. Education is key and proper communication to our industry is a necessity,” attests Ebenger.

Thin Benefits

Advantages of thin magnetic materials center around weight. This makes it easier to load the media into printer. Another point to consider, lighter weight options reduce shipping costs.

“Reduced weight means less wear on equipment, easier handling, and decreased shipping costs,” summarizes Adams.

In regards to loading material, Ebenger agrees the lighter weight is a benefit, but also takes it a step further. “Thinner magnetics lighter in weight also ensure the equipment can handle the weight as well. Some printers cannot handle the traditional 0.030-inch thick material so in some cases, a thinner product is a necessity.”

Thinner magnets also conform better to curved and uneven surfaces compared to thicker options, suggests McLevey.

This makes thinner gauge magnets useful for vehicle graphics. According to Master Magnetics, Inc.’s website thinner is better. “Industry standards require 30mil thickness of regular-strength flexible magnet for vehicle signs. However, high-energy magnets provide the same strength in about half the thickness.”

Final Thoughts

Thinner gauge magnets are not your traditional materials. Lighter weight magnetic and magnetic receptive substrates with equal— if not more—energy are designed for today’s printers. D

#1 See page 25 for more info. March 2024 | Digital Output { 17 }

different software applications into a RIP facilitates real-time data sharing. “This allows all stakeholders, from designers to printers and clients, to have access to the latest information. Real-time collaboration improves communication and decision making throughout the entire printing process.”

“Integration is vital due to the evolving landscape of digital printing and the need for streamlined workflows. This integration allows for a more automated and efficient workflow, reducing manual input and the potential for errors. It enables print shops to manage a range of functions, from job submission and processing to tracking and reporting, within a single RIP ecosystem,” shares Brian Brooks, manager of product management, Roland DGA Corporation.

This tracks with continued interest in automation. “I think automation, or the appearance of an automated functionality, probably has a lot to do with it. The implication is that there are fewer points in the process that require an operator to ‘touch’ a job in prepress, which should translate to fewer chances for error, and greater productivity,” explains Bret Farrah, EVP, Xitron.

“Interoperability of the applications used in the shop is the key to automation, which leads to increased productivity, and reduced costs and wastage. Having invested in applications, print shops want to optimize their return on investment (ROI), and there is no better way to do March 2024 | Digital Output { 19 }
#13 #10

this than if their applications are all working in harmony,” agrees Justin Bailey, managing director, Global Graphics Software.

According to Bennett Federico, director of marketing, SAi, “having the ability to integrate with third-party apps is not only good for software users to expand a program’s features and functionality for very specific needs, but it’s also beneficial for software developers because it can save time and money. Building and maintaining numerous integrations can be tedious and in some cases, even, redundant.”

For example, although SAi Flexi includes a RIP, it is also available as a basic design software option—Flexi DESIGN. “If someone buys a printer and it comes with its own RIP software, Flexi allows its users to output design files to that third-party RIP. This allows

1) Xitron’s Navigator workflow integrates apps programmatically, embedding them within the Xitron framework. One example is its collaboration with Ultimate Technologies’ Impostrip imposition application, which is fully integrated with the Navigator workflow.

our product to become a part of an increasingly wider ecosystem of print and production products,” shares Federico.

“By partnering with expansive third-party apps, a RIP provider can add in-demand functionality to their platform while focusing their own development work on RIP-specific features. There’s also the learning curve to consider; many end users are becoming more educated on web tools and graphic design programs. Rather than reinventing the wheel it can be mutually beneficial to combine a professional RIP with a professional third-party tool developer,” seconds Vincent Hughes, product marketing manager, specialty production, Fiery, LLC.

“Seamless integration of design software for decorative printing—textiles, wallcoverings, flooring—with digital print output is vital due to the need for accurate previews of all aspects of output—especially color— throughout the design process,” agrees Nick Langford, chairman, AVA CAD/CAM Group Ltd.

Matt Crawford, president/CEO, Onyx Graphics, Inc., provides the concept of print service providers (PSPs) as factories. RIPs and integrated apps help connect these “factories” directly to customers, “which is fundamental for business growth and operational efficiency. This integration moves RIPs beyond being merely tools but has transformed them into comprehensive solutions that automate entire print ecosystems.”

Onyx Graphics, Inc., provides the ers (PSPs) as factories. RIPs nect these “factories” directly damental for business growth integration moves RIPs beyond transformed them into compresolutions entire print ecosystems.”

“Additionally, the shift towards

“Additionally, the shift towards more integrated systems is a response to the growing competition through web services. Localized print services are gradually declining in favor of more comprehensive, interconnected operations. Therefore, for print shops to remain competitive and successful, embracing RIP integration with third-party apps is not only beneficial, but essential. It represents a strategic move towards a more automated, efficient, and customer-focused business model that can proactively respond to market demands and unique challenges,” continues Crawford.

Common Apps

Third-party apps that integrate with a RIP include web shops, ERP, MIS, W2P, design solutions, and much more.

While it depends on the customer and their workflow, Fabre says web shops seem to be one of the most popular apps to integrate. “Some customers feel that they do not use their equipment at 100 percent and having this new stream of order can help them to maximize profits. Still, it only has

a good ROI if those jobs are highly automated as prices are tight on the web due to the existing competition of big manufacturers.”

Print shops often request integration with web stores and ERP systems, states Brooks. “These integrations allow for more streamlined workflow, where orders from web stores are directly fed into the RIP software and the ERP systems can manage inventory, invoicing, and customer data.”

Farrah says web shops and ERP are usually seen in larger size print shops, however “web stores and ERP are certainly mentioned whenever the topic comes up, but those are typically seen more in larger shops and high production environments. For smaller entities, the costs of integration are often too much to swallow and the ROI is much smaller.”

Driven by the “need to reduce production costs and enable efficient production of high-quality product in the fastest time, including the ability to invoice and get paid,” Bailey says MIS, W2P, ERP, and quality inspection systems are all regularly integrated with RIPs.

“The most common integration is with ecommerce solutions. PSPs are keen on automating the entire customer journey—from initial collection to proofing, production, and ultimately delivery. By leveraging integrated third-party apps, each of these stages can be systematically automated, resulting in a streamlined process and better overall customer experience,” explains Crawford.

March 2024 | Digital Output { 20 }

Automation and ecommerce solutions are at the forefront of integrations, agrees Hughes. “It’s become even easier for entrylevel production environments to grow and monetize their output. Removing barriers to entry and streamlining a workflow from orders to production to delivery has put automation and ecommerce solutions at the forefront of integrations. Having solutions in place to quickly and easily set up print-on-demand workflows has been a very popular option in the market.”

Print production tasks like preflight and proofing are two features experiencing integration. Enfocus PitStop fixes incoming files automatically and Enfocus Review proofs files online, which De Pauw says speeds up the order handling process.

Langford shares that another popular app for integration is design software for decorative printing.

API or Not

RIP solution providers update software to enable integration with third-party apps using a combination of proprietary technologies or APIs.

API can be proprietary or commercial. Caldera recently developed its own standard REST API technology, announced in version 17 of CalderaRIP software. According to Caldera, the REST API paves the way for more efficient job submission and improved job cost tracking.

This isn’t Caldera’s first attempt at developing an API. Its Nexio API

offers complete JDF/JMF standard API integration. Filenamebased API SmartImport automates job submission in order to fulfill the need of small shops. PrimeCenter includes a simplified XML ticket file-based API to target medium-sized shops not ready for Nexio.

Onyx utilizes standard REST API technology for Onyx Sync—a commercial API that fosters connection between ONYX Thrive and any system equipped with API connectivity. Using REST API technology was a “deliberate choice that reflects our belief in using standard technologies to facilitate extensive compatibility and ensure our customers can connect effortlessly with a range of systems,” explains Crawford.

“We have written a software module, which provides perfect integration with all printer drivers from our preferred partner—PrintFactory. AVA CAD/CAM customers can also output to RIPs from other providers using TIFF output but the integration module provides a superior user experience,” shares Langford.

Integration with third-party apps is possible without an API. Fiery’s integrations aren’t based on a standard API model. “Without an API, it’s very simple to integrate with third-party apps, although the scope may change on a caseto-case basis. By discovering potential partnerships between our RIP and third-party vendors, then working together to bring those partnerships to life, we are able to share the workload in development,” explains Hughes. March 2024 | Digital Output { 21 }


Subscription software is quickly becoming a preferred model. According to Brian Brooks, manager of product management, Roland DGA Corporation, the trend reflects the evolving nature of technology and user needs.

“These days technology advances so fast that subscribing to software, and thereby always being on the latest version, makes much more sense than buying a license outright and quickly having it become outdated,” admits Bennett Federico, director of marketing, SAi.

The trend for fast delivery of innovation drives subscription, agrees Sebastien Hanssens, VP marketing and operations, Caldera. “As software developers we constantly need to innovate to be aligned with the new printers and cutters, technologies, and design capabilities. This means developing new features and versions of our software that our customers want access to as soon is possible.”

The subscription model “can be very beneficial for RIP software, where ongoing updates can optimize performance, introduce new features, and ensure compatibility with the latest hardware and operating systems,” adds Brooks.

Lower entry costs is an advantage. “The great thing about subscriptions is the customer can pay for what they need when they need it while controlling their cash flow. Customers can cancel at any time, and subscriptions give customers an

While Global Graphics does have APIs, it relies on its OPC UA approach instead. Its SmartDFE embraces OPC UA, a secure industrystandard communications protocol used in manufacturing settings.

“Unlike JDF, which is a protocol only used in pure print environments, OPC UA is used to connect to almost anything in the factory,

all-in experience with support and upgrades included,” says Matt Crawford, president/CEO, Onyx Graphics, Inc.

Subscription is not the end-all-be-all of software according to Bret Farrah, EVP, Xitron. “Maybe for some, but certainly not in our market yet. The option has been available for Navigator RIPs for a few years, but the overwhelming majority of our customers have found it more economical to pay once and upgrade on occasion when necessary.”

“Whether subscription plans are the end-all-be-all depends on the specific needs and preferences of users, as well as the nature of the software and the markets it serves,” adds Brooks.

Nick Langford, chairman, AVA CAD/CAM Group Ltd., says customers may prefer purchasing software one time versus subscription services for tax reasons or capital allowances. It is because of this that AVA CAD/CAM still offers a capital purchase/optional maintenance contract option.

“Software subscriptions come with pros and cons, which is why a RIP provider should have solutions in place to offer both recurring subscriptions as well as single purchases. Ultimately, a RIP provider is creating a product that helps a producer do more. There’s no reason delivery methods shouldn’t be as flexible and as customizable as the tools in the RIP itself,” concludes Vincent Hughes, product marketing manager, specialty production, Fiery, LLC.

even enabling remote access. For example, we have customers that integrate with MIS and ERP systems upstream, ink delivery systems, and downstream inspection or finishing systems, among many other interesting use cases. OPC UA is simple to implement via a OPC UA client and is an enabler for Industry 4.0 working practices,” explains Bailey.

Another example, Xitron’s Navigator DFE uses an API, but its traditional Navigator RIP and Workflow integrates apps programmatically, embedding them within the Xitron framework. “One example is our collaboration with Ultimate Technologies’ Impostrip imposition app, which is fully integrated with our Navigator workflow. Having this engine built into our workflow means that print jobs can be processed inline instead of moving a job from one app to the next,” shares Farrah.

Federico says SAi plans to have its own API in the near future. “Not having your own API makes things significantly more complicated when it comes to integrating third-party apps. In the case of

SAi Flexi, it’s able to communicate with other RIPs during output but having a more sophisticated integration is very difficult or even impossible unless you have your own API.”

“Not having your own API can limit the ability of the RIP software to directly integrate with thirdparty apps. However, this doesn’t entirely remove the possibility of integration. In some cases, workarounds can be employed, though they may not be as efficient as direct integration via an API. The emphasis in such scenarios is placed on ensuring the highest quality and reliability of the printing process, with the software being specifically tailored to different brands and types of hardware,” agrees Brooks.

There’s also the argument for a “closed” system approach, which is something Roland offers with its VersaWorks RIP. “By maintaining a closed system, we ensure our software is optimized for our hardware, providing a seamless and efficient user experience. While this approach limits the ability to integrate with other brands, the benefits in terms of ease of use, advanced features, consistency, and integration with Roland products provides value to our end users,” shares Brooks.

Heart of the Print Shop

Streamlining and efficiency are top buzz words for PSPs. One way to achieve both is to look at the heart of your print shop—the RIP. Many solutions are able to integrate with popular third-party apps, which assist in automating a production floor from end to end. D

March 2024 | Digital Output { 22 } companies mentioned INFO# COMPANY WEBSITE 100 AVA CAD/CAM Group Ltd. 101 Caldera 102 Enfocus, an Esko Company 103 Fiery, LLC 104 Global Graphics Software 105 Onyx Graphics, Inc.
Roland DGA Corp.
SAi 108 Xitron See page 25 for more info.

Unprecedented Levels of Productivity

Significans Automation Partners with Wallace Graphics

Wallace Graphics of Duluth, GA was founded as a one-man commercial printer in 1987 by John Wallace in Atlanta, GA. Today, the business is owned and operated by his two sons, Jonathan and Jake. As a multifaceted printer it offers digital, offset, and large format printing; direct mail services; kitting and ful�illment; promotional products; and printed apparel. The full-service commercial printer has never lost sight of its founder’s guiding principle to always be a “people �irst” printer.

Solving the Challenges

While consistently looking to innovate and increase ef�iciency, the company was encountering roadblocks. “We were processing jobs through customer service and prepress using mostly manual steps. This made it almost impossible to increase our throughput, especially when a large volume of jobs arrived at the same time. It also increased the time it took to enter and process these jobs, while leaving us more vulnerable to making production errors and missing client deadlines. We needed to create an ultra-ef�icient work�low that could accommodate this extra capacity, while helping our employees to manage their workload. We also needed to reduce the likelihood of making mistakes while becoming more responsive to our customers’ needs and deadlines,” says Anthony Guice, director of systems development, Wallace Graphics.

Enter Significans Automation

Wallace Graphics chose work�low integration specialist Signi�icans Automation to implement these changes; the company develops and integrates customized solutions

for printing and packaging. The �inal implementation featured Enfocus PDF Review, Switch, Pit Stop, and Phoenix, and leveraged the versatility of custom scripting using the Scripting Module and applications (apps) sourced from the Enfocus App Store, like XML Toolkit. It is a collection of tools that create, manipulate, and convert XML documents for ease of use within Enfocus Switch.

“We now have a clearer vision of what’s possible and it’s invigorating. We’ve built a lot together by partnering with Signi�icans Automation, but I believe we are just getting started. For example, we’ve automated our direct mail order entry, data processing, and print �ile production and proo�ing. We’ve automated email intake and parsing to extract order data, work in progress folder creation, jobticket copying, and material planning,” shares Guice.

Fast ROI

“We started to see tangible, measurable results in about a month or two,” points out Guice. “Plus, we can do so much more with the staff and equipment we already have. I’m estimating that we’ll recover our original investment in about 90 days. Today, we see the Signi�icans Automation team as an extension of Team Wallace, and look forward to working together in the future.”

For an assessment of your work�low software systems, call Signi�icans Automation at 877-463-4465. You’ll be directed not to a salesperson or a third party, but to one of our regional work�low automation and integration experts who has years of production �loor experience. D

1 & 2) At Wallace Graphics, prepress ki ing tasks that used to take one day were reduced to 30 minutes. Daily throughput of around 50 jobs decreased from 40-plus hours to about two hours. Also achieved, a ten-fold increase in overall employee time savings, and it’s all possible thanks to Significans Automation.

1 2 March 2024 | Digital Output { 23 }
#20 #23 #19 #22 #21
March 2024 | Digital Output { 24 }
#25 #26 INFO# ADVERTISER PAGE WEBSITE 19 Alpina Manufacturing, LLC 24 20 Alpina Manufacturing, LLC 24 1 Arnold Flexmag Industries, Inc. 17 2 ASLAN Selbstklebefolien GmbH 13 21 AXYZ 24 22 Budnick Converting/BannerUps 24 3 Caldera 15 23 Delivery Signs 24 4 Digitech 29 5 Direct Color Systems 13 6 Enfocus, an Esko Company 21 7 FDC Graphic Films, Inc. 33 8 FELLERS 5 24 General Formulations 24 25 Good Guys Signs 25 17 Graphic Whizard Inc. 8 INFO# ADVERTISER PAGE WEBSITE 9 International Sign Association 7 10 Laminators, Inc. 19 11 Mutoh America, Inc. 35 12 Newlife Magnetics LLC 17 13 SAi 19 18 Significans Automation 23 14 Signs365 36 15 swissQprint 2 16 TEKRA LLC 21 26 Vision Engraving & Routing 25 INFO# COMPANY PAGE 130 3M 14 120 Advanced Greig Laminators, Inc. 31 110 Arnold Magnetic Technologies 16 100 AVA CAD/CAM Group Ltd. 18 121 Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions 31 101 Caldera 18 135 Canon U.S.A., Inc. 26 136 Durst Image Technology US, LLC 26 102 Enfocus, an Esko Company 18 137 Epson 26 122 Fedrigoni Self-Adhesives North America 31 103 Fiery, LLC 18 138 Fluid Color 26 104 Global Graphics So ware 18 123 Graphic Finishing Partners, LLC 31 124 Mactac 31 INFO# COMPANY PAGE 111 Magnum Magnetics 16 112 Master Magnetics, Inc. 16 139 Mimaki USA, Inc. 26 140 Mutoh America, Inc. 26 113 Newlife Magnetics, LLC 16 105 Onyx Graphics, Inc. 18 141 Ricoh USA 26 131 Roland DGA Corp. 14 106 Roland DGA Corp. 18 142 Roland DGA Corp. 26 107 SAi 18 143 StratoJet 26 144 swissQprint 26 114 XCEL 16 108 Xitron 18 Tough Floor Graphics State of Ink Consumables for Textile Printing Rigid Substrates and more! March 2024 | Digital Output { 25 }

s print shops look to become more efficient, one area to consider is hardware—specifically roll-to-roll (R2R) printers. The newest models address the efficiency of the entire print workflow, enhancing practices like quick media changeovers with automated methods, employing larger ink systems to minimize downtime, and running intelligent software programs that monitor the print process in real time. This is

for printers poised at the higher end of the production spectrum, measuring up to five meters in width down to 44- and 60-inch models.

These advancements are seen across all ink segments, from UV and its sub-categories to resin/latex, aqueous, and solvents. Further updates are inevitable as demand for efficiency grows. Print service providers (PSPs) are pushed to rely on efficient, productive R2R

devices because of a dynamic market that is ever-shifting as customers request fast turnarounds and versatility in media offerings.

Offering Efficiency

R2R printers incorporate efficiency in multiple ways. Three segments to note are operational, energy, and software.

Above, left


March 2024 | Digital Output { 26 }
to Stratojet Shark III roll device and the swissQprint Karibu 2 wide format printer.


One advancement is operational efficiency. John Ingraham, senior product marketing specialist, Canon U.S.A., Inc., defines operational efficiency as “maximizing running the printer without having to stop to maintain the printer.”

Physical examples are mechanisms that enable quick changeovers between different materials and automated media takeup systems, as well as more efficient ink containers— bags versus cartridges. In all cases, the features are designed to eliminate manual error and create continuous efficient practices on the shop floor.

“Efficiency is important to PSPs as a smooth, efficient workflow contributes greatly to overall productivity and profitability,” explains Daniel Valade, product manager of digital print, Roland DGA Corporation. The Roland TrueVIS VG3 eco-solvent printer series includes automatic media gap adjustment, “which makes printer setup fast and easy. This advancement eliminates the need for manual calculations when setting up—media gap and feed compensation can now be adjusted automatically with the push of a button saving the user time and effort.”

Sohil Singh, president, StratoJet, notes R2R printers incorporating quick-change systems as an example of efficiency. The StratoJet Falcon XL has two media feed rollers and two take-up systems, facilitating swift transitions between media and printing materials. A new air shaft system allows for smooth and controlled

According to Lewis Jones, segment specialist, sign and graphics, Mimaki USA, Inc., “today’s roll-based printers are designed to deliver higher productivity and help PSPs streamline operations and lower costs. Higher productivity is enabled through improvements such as the ability to achieve high image quality at faster print speeds. On-board technologies such as automatic nozzle check and recovery systems, as well as larger ink supplies also help to significantly reduce downtime.”

winding, reducing the risk of jams during long print runs.

When it comes to R2R printers, Larry D’Amico, director of sales, NA, Durst Image Technology US, LLC, says you can’t overlook unattended printing. “This is one of the key attributes when compared to board printing. However, to accomplish this you need a system that accurately controls the movement of the roll through the printer. If you stop to readjust the roll it can defeat the benefit of roll printing. One of Durst’s core competencies is moving roll material through a printer. This may sound simple, but there are a lot of nuances to doing this in a way that allows for unattended operation.”

“Operational efficiency, including reliability, remains a key driver in productivity and satisfaction, and all swissQprint models have many features built-in to ensure a high degree of operational efficiency,”

notes Michael Voight, application specialist, swissQprint America.

These features include “light indicators that make proper material loading and alignment faster, resume print capabilities that reduce material loss, mesh kits for improved mesh printing, improved visual indicators that show when the printer has finished or when an error occurred while operating, features creating a cost advantage on material costs, and printer reliability limiting downtime,” continues Voight.

Another example of operational efficiency, “built-in light boxes in R2R printers provide backlit controls, allowing users to inspect colors without multiple samples,” shares Singh.

Mutoh America, Inc. has made a great effort over the last five years to maximize efficiency with new systems and features, according to Tony Simmering, March 2024 | Digital Output { 27 } 1
1) The Epson SureColor S80600L R2R wide format device is available in either dual four-color and ten-color configurations.

product manager, Mutoh. One example is switching from 220mL ink cartridges to 1L ink bags, “not only driving costs down but also requiring less planning on the PSP’s end for inventory.”


Efficiency is also related to energy savings, which contributes to lower costs. “As we all continue to grow in the industry, energy efficiency is something that everyone needs to consider. All Epson products achieve Energy Star ratings. Our priority is to provide customers with the finest products that produce high-quality results and are sustainable and efficient,” shares David Lopez, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America.

“Energy savings is of growing importance not only from a cost perspective but more importantly sustainability. Using approximately 2.4kw/hour, swissQprint devices deliver one of the most energy efficient solutions,” shares Voight.


While the hardware itself offers efficiency, this is enhanced significantly by software solutions. “The software makes it easier

to queue jobs to print in the correct order for more efficient downstream work. Software and workflow automation saves time and money for any print shop,” shares Adam Tourville, channel manager, Fluid Color.

“We see improvements in nesting software and RIP advancements increasingly helping operator and prepress efficiencies,” admits Voight.

Also “remote monitoring and control capabilities allow operators to oversee the printing process, make adjustments, and troubleshoot issues remotely, reducing the need for physical presence. Integration with workflow automation software streamlines the entire printing process, minimizing errors and expediting job processing,” notes Singh.

“While looking at the gains from a R2R printer itself is important, to realize maximum efficiencies PSPs should look at their entire wide format workflow including file preparation, color management, RIP, print MIS, finishing, and so forth to examine where bottlenecks can be addressed,” suggests Andrew Vecci, director, portfolio and product management, Ricoh Graphic Communications, Ricoh USA.

Attractive Efficiency


R2R printers with efficient features are attractive to print shops. When implemented correctly they can save on costs, boost employee morale, and increase application offerings to customers.

to run printers with less staff and rely more on the printer to handle maintenance and print monitoring,” admits Ingraham.

“PSPs biggest expenses are most commonly equipment/ shop space, labor, and material (waste); a print shop may have to sacrifice one or more of these things in order to achieve acceptable conditions in the others. Allowing access to more efficient equipment helps carry some of the burden to be able to do more in the other areas, such as hiring more staff or increasing wages, setting a higher threshold for waste percentage, or even just keeping the lights on longer,” shares Simmering.

Operator satisfaction is another reason efficiency is attractive and Voight says this is “key because we believe the most productive devices are the ones printer providers really enjoy operating.”

And those operators’ minutes are precious. “Efficiency allows PSPs to do more with less. The operator’s billable hours are limited, so maximizing the operator’s time is essential for a successful business. If an operator can print rolls of substrate without having to monitor the printer they are free to work on other jobs while the printer is operating,” explains Tourville.

“Efficiency is essential to the life of the PSP’s success. The lack of skilled labor means you need

Efficient R2R printers provide versatility, which is also attractive to PSPs. “The versatility and adaptability of efficient R2R printers are crucial advantages, enabling them to handle various materials and print jobs. This versatility empowers PSPs to diversify service offerings and cater to a broader range of customer needs, thereby expanding their market reach. In the competitive printing industry speed and reliability are paramount and efficiency in printing operations contributes to a competitive edge,” explains Singh.

“The ability to consistently produce a number of applications on a range of media, quickly and with minimal touch points is the holy grail of digital production. This enables the production staff to be focused on tasks that require human interaction while being assured the digital components are productive,” agrees Jones.

Scalability is also top of mind. “The scalability of efficient R2R printers allows PSPs to expand their operations effectively as demand grows. This scalability permits increased production without a proportional rise in operational complexities, fostering sustainable business growth,” adds Signh.

“Increasing efficiency has a positive impact on the bottom line in many respects—whether that is managing costs down by time to

March 2024 | Digital Output { 28 }
2) Fluid Color R70R 70-inch roll device.

produce a job and/or eliminating rework, realizing lower costs due to greater energy efficiency, ensuring that employees’ time is focused on the highest value creating activities, or getting more customer jobs out the door through increased productivity,” shares Vecci.

Demanding Efficiency

The need for efficiency isn’t new, but it is heightened. This is for both industry-specific reasons as well as macro influences.

Specific to the graphic arts, “the diversification of printing materials beyond traditional paper,

including fabrics, films, and specialty substrates, has become a trend among PSPs. Efficient R2R printers capable of handling diverse materials play a vital role in meeting the industry’s evolving customer demands,” shares Singh.

Customer demand and expectation is at all time high. “Lead times on projects keep getting smaller, customer expectations continue to rise—all while the complexity of projects grow with multi-layer printing, neon colors, embellishments with varnish inks, and trends toward using more unique substrates,” explains Voight.

“PSPs need risk assessment plans in place to survive and thrive. Efficiency becomes integral in these plans to ensure shops can react quickly to change in the economy and adopt new ways to reduce costs while providing innovative and impactful graphics to their clients,” advises Ingraham.

Outside of the industry, higher energy prices and their effect on the economy have influenced demand. “Increasing energy prices can directly lead to lower profits and loss of price competitiveness in corporate activities. Roll-based printers that use less energy are becoming more

popular for this reason. Efficient energy use reduces CO2 emissions and can contribute to lower power costs. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environment and are more supportive of environmentally friendly products and services,” says Jones.

Achieving efficiency is a PSP priority and hasn’t changed over the years, believes Valade. “What has changed, however, is that today’s customers are asking print operations to produce greater quantities of prints and complete complex jobs within shorter periods of time. That means the

#4 March 2024 | Digital Output { 29 }

PSP needs to be equipped with an advanced, efficient R2R printer or printer/cutter.”

“I don’t think the demand for increased efficiency has ever changed, the ability to do so is traditionally limited by the technology of the times relative to implementation costs. For instance, it’s much less cost prohibitive to add a sensor designed for automatic alignments like in our XpertJet series now than it was ten years ago. On top of that, the sensors are much better at doing their job,” admits Simmering.

Future demand is all but confirmed. “The demand for efficiency is going to continue to increase in the same way the

demand for new technology increases. In the last ten years we’ve seen four-color signage printers that were the industry standard be replaced by tencolor options for the expanded color gamut. Similarly, it used to be expected that a printer could print for a few hours straight, and now print shops are stepping up expectations and looking for unattended overnight printing. That’s efficiency. The standard changes as time and technology advances,” says Lopez.

Finding Value

With all the features to make R2R printers efficient, a PSP might be weary of upgrading their device—cost is an important consideration. However, the total cost

of ownership (TCO) should be taken into consideration.

Voight admits that “building in new features to improve efficiency can add cost to production, which in turn influences price. Each manufacturer has its own approach to price; however, there is a correlation between higher priced systems and improved efficiency, versatility, and reliability.”

More efficiency does not necessarily mean more cost. “At Epson, we strive to maintain our price point. We know the customers, we know the market, and we know where our products fit within the industry. We’re competitive—both with our products and any accessories or enhancements—and to do so, we manufacture more efficiently to be able to maintain the price point,” says Lopez.

Think beyond the initial investment. “Consideration of the TCO is essential, taking into account not just the initial purchase price but also factors such as reduced labor costs, lower downtime, energy savings, and reduced waste. More efficient R2R printers may have a higher upfront cost, but their operational efficiency can lead to significant long-term cost savings,” shares Signh.

Costs are comparable, with the important distinction value, according to Jones. “If a PSP can produce 30 percent more sellable product for a unit that costs ten percent more—and they can realize lower labor and energy costs—the return on investment still pencils out in their favor.”

“As speed and quality improve, I think you get more value in printers today. The prices are similar but with the ability to run more overall square footage at a higher quality level, the cost is less,” adds D’Amico.

Competitive Edge

R2R printers with efficient capabilities enable PSPs to push quality work out of their shop with minimal staff. They are an exquisite fit for any print shop looking to meet the fast pace of today’s order cycles.

“Efficiency offers benefits such as cost savings, increased throughput, versatility, competitive edge, quick turnaround times, customer satisfaction, adaptation to market trends, resource optimization, scalability, and environmental considerations. These factors collectively contribute to the success and sustainability of print businesses in the dynamic and competitive printing industry,” comments Singh.

For more on wide format R2R printers, visit to view a recent webinar on the topic. Also online, a Target Chart listing specifications for various roll devices categorized by ink type. D

March 2024 | Digital Output { 30 } companies mentioned INFO# COMPANY WEBSITE 135 Canon U.S.A., Inc. 136 Durst Image Technology US, LLC 137 Epson 138 Fluid Color 139 Mimaki USA, Inc. 140 Mutoh America, Inc. 141 Ricoh USA 142 Roland DGA Corp. 143 StratoJet 144 swissQprint See page 25 for more info.
Mimaki UCJV330-160 integrated printer/cutter. 3

ehicles wraps are subject to many potentially damaging elements day in and day out. Therefore, vehicle graphics— partial or full—benefit from an overlaminate to ensure success throughout the intended lifecycle.

Continued Advancements

Along with ink and media, overlaminates continue to advance to ensure flexibility, durability, and sustainability.

In recent years, vehicle wrap overlaminates have undergone advancements,

specifically targeting durability, visual appeal, and user friendliness. “These improvements aim to satisfy the demands of both professional installers and vehicle owners seeking top-notch finishes for Above) Avery Dennison DOL 1360 Max is a 1.3-mil film that offers extended durability. March 2024 | Digital Output { 31 }

their vehicles,” offers Daniele Perotti, global graphics product and business development manager, Fedrigoni Self-Adhesives (FSA) North America.

Material finish has also changed. “Improvements in casting the sheets used to manufacture the film have made significant improvements in terms of finish. The gloss clarity and vibrancy

are higher, and the matte finish is more refined and consistent,” shares Amanda Smith, marketing communications, graphic and signage solutions, Mactac.

That said, as critical as laminate protection is to the wrap industry and the work that installers conduct, Sam Crosby, dealer manager, Graphic Finishing Partners, LLC, feels that the majority of laminates


The complex curves of many vehicle wraps have installers looking beyond flatbed applicators and certain laminators.

“Having a quality laminator that will feed straight—without walking or waves— and have features such as roll-to-roll capability, trimming, static control, etc. are paramount for efficiency and production while minimizing errors and waste of expensive materials,” offers Tony Caruso, VP, sales, Advanced Greig Laminators, Inc.

He stresses that vehicle wrap materials are some of the most expensive media a print provider can purchase. “Whether it be a partial or full wrap, printed, or color-shift materials, the square foot costs of these products have increased significantly over just the past few years. Competition for this work is very high and therefore prices must remain competitive. There’s always somebody doing it cheaper.”

Given the high cost of materials and aggressive pricing a print provider must offer, the vehicle wrap margin of error is often very minimal. “A wrap damaged during the lamination process could cost the printer several hundred dollars and time they may not have. I’ve seen some cases where the value of the materials is greater than the value of the laminator being used to process the job. The right equipment cannot be overlooked in this process.”

have stayed relatively the same. “While cast gloss still dominates the products sold, having luster, satin, and matte options is always a possibility and typically dictated by the consumer. There have been advancements relating to thinner, more eco-friendly products, but price and availability still influence what the consumer ultimately chooses to use.”

Advancements in overlaminates for vehicle graphics target specific functions like flexibility, conformity, and durability.

Perotti says flexibility developments are designed to improve the ease of application of overlaminates. “These include advanced adhesive technologies that make application easier and allow for repositioning during installation.”

Molly Waters, senior technical specialist, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, points out that polyurethane films that are now available help provide extra conformability and flexibility for use on three-dimensional surfaces. Laminates boast greater flexibility, allowing them to conform readily to the curves and contours of vehicles. “This flexibility is crucial for achieving seamless finishes without wrinkles or creases, especially around challenging areas like bumpers, mirrors, and curves,” shares Perotti. Durability is a primary requirement. “It is a key feature of vehicle graphics. Enduring the elements,

road conditions, and typical wear and tear on vehicles is immensely valuable,” says Perotti.

“Durability continues to be a focus, as we know it is important for print and sign shops and brand owners to have protected, high-quality graphics for extended periods of time in a variety of climates,” adds Alex Fox, product manager, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions.

Specific to wrap laminates, Crosby says durability ranges from five to ten years, depending on how each manufacturer decides to offer that protection, durability, and manufacturer warranty.

Base Considerations

Overlaminates are generally developed in tandem with base material counterparts.

“Developing the overlaminate together with the print media is extremely important,” offers Perotti. The performance of the overlaminate must match or support the performance requirements the print film provides. This makes for a fully compatible product that meets the needs of the industry.”

Ensuring that the overlaminate aligns with the performance criteria of the print film is crucial. For example, if you had a very flexible, conformable print media and married it with a rigid laminate, it would affect the overall performance of the material. “The flexibility of the print media would be negatively impacted by the rigidity of the overlaminate. The lamination

March 2024 | Digital Output { 32 } 1
1) Avery Dennison DOL Max films provide horizontal and vertical durability for improved outdoor protection, especially in extreme weather conditions like sun, snow, and rain.

film needs to match the print media flexibility in order to have a uniform behavior for the material,” stresses Perotti.

Waters says Avery Dennison always considers the durability of the complete construction or application as it develops films and overlaminates. “It is important to match the appropriate overlaminate and base material. For example, it is never recommended to apply a calendered laminate to a cast base material. Applying a lesser performing film to a higher performing film will reduce the overall performance properties of the base film.”

“Manufacturers warrant the combination of the overlaminate and media together because they understand both characteristics and can recommend the best combination. It also allows for consistent quality control throughout the manufacturing process, which gives better results during the application,” adds Smith.

Crosby admits that advancements in media are still where most manufacturers decide to invest in innovation. “Laminate thicknesses, release liners, base polymers, and finishes have remained relatively unchanged over the past few years. But manufacturers will

create overlaminates to work best for customer expectations.”

He estimates that the largest wrap shops choose to keep the media/laminate combination with the manufacturer of choice, often dictated by the installer or shop that is creating the work. Others will mix/match based on availability and price. “Warranty and piece of mind are often the driving forces for some larger, more established shops but the market is changing and shops and installers will often use one brand of print media while using a different manufacturer’s overlaminate,” continues Crosby.

Full and Partial

Certain overlaminates are designed to work better for full or partial wraps.

For example, “FSA’s Ri-Jet C50 Ultimate Slide & Tack product is specifically engineered for full vehicle wraps. In cases where a more economical option is preferred, installers often recommend a partial vehicle wrap,” shares Perotti.

FSA does offer an alternative choice when high conformability isn’t essential, particularly for partial wraps. The Ri-Jet P75 SB Airflow, a polymeric vinyl-coated March 2024 | Digital Output { 33 } #7

material with a solvent-based adhesive featuring air egress channels, is an ideal film specifically tailored for partial wraps.

For full wraps, Waters feels that the best performance is typically going to be with cast or polyurethane laminates. “These laminates offer the best conformability to the contours of a vehicle. For partial wraps, if there are only simple curves to consider, then you could get by using a print media and even a calendered laminate; however, it is important to note that the durability could be reduced due to the lower durability on calendered films.”

“For full wraps, thinner, more flexible overlaminates are preferred,

as they can better conform to the curves and contours of the vehicle. Thicker and more durable overlaminates are recommended for partial wraps, as they provide added protection against abrasion. Ultimately, the choice of which overlaminate to use will depend on the project’s specific requirements, including durability and longevity,” shares Smith.

Crosby feels that choosing the best overlaminate for a partial versus full wrap really depends on where the graphic is installed. This is particularly true for partial wraps. “If the wrap is intended to cover recessed areas, rivets, and bumpers or oddly shaped surfaces, essentially being stretched to conform to areas

that are not considered flat, cast laminates are always the right choice. The ability to stretch and conform is only achievable with the most conformable media and laminate. Calendared films potentially will fall short of meeting those requirements.”

A great general rule is to always use equal or better grades of laminate to the grade/quality of the print media, shares Crosby. “An example would be using a cast overlaminate to protect a polymeric calendared media.”

Skipping the Overlaminate

For printed vehicle graphics, overlaminates are overwhelmingly recommended by the experts.

For very short-term wraps— generally less than 12 months— Crosby says you could technically avoid using an overlaminate. “But this would leave the image susceptible to damage from road debris, chemicals if washed, and makes for a more cumbersome installation process. One of the key benefits of laminating vehicle graphics is how it assists in applying the graphic, adding slight rigidity to the printed vinyl and making the graphic easier to install.”

“If the vehicle wrap will only be used for a short period, it’s possible to use a non-laminated film. However, this isn’t recommended as the printed surface might be susceptible to scratches or damage. Furthermore, lacking an overlaminate could result in the film having insufficient rigidity, especially when used in large formats,” comments Perotti.

Waters stresses that vehicle wraps always need some sort of protection over the printed graphic. “The laminate is going to protect the ink from abrasion, UV from the sun, chemicals, etc.”

However, when referencing nonprinted wraps, such as a color change job, overlaminates are not required.

Perotti says FSA actually advises against using an overlaminate on colored vinyl. “Transparent films might deteriorate faster than colored ones, potentially causing a yellowish tint to develop on the colored vinyl over time.”

Waters also doesn’t recommend applying overlaminates to color change films, as they are designed to be used right off of the roll. “They have the overlaminate built into the construction.”

Considering Overlaminate

It is highly suggested that printed vehicle graphics utilize a quality overlaminate to ensure success for the intended lifecycle. These graphics regularly face harsh elements and media vendors offer durability without compromising flexibility. D

March 2024 | Digital Output { 34 } companies mentioned INFO# COMPANY WEBSITE 120 Advanced Greig Laminators, Inc. 121 Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions 122 Fedrigoni Self-Adhesives North America 123 Graphic Finishing Partners, LLC 124 Mactac See page 25 for more info. 2
2) FSA introduced vehicle wrap films and laminates to the U.S. market in 2022.
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