Tech devices and IT equipment tend to advance at the speed of light. As demand for better performance or more efficient productivity from consumers pushes manufacturers to add capabilities, these devices are updated on a regular basis. By and large, wide format printers have not advanced at the same pace as other IT equipment and tech devices in the office. Generally speaking, few changes have taken place in the past decade. However, this doesn't mean changes haven't taken place.
1. Faster Print Speeds
Wide format printers have always filled a market niche, producing prints at sizes that simply aren't possible on other devices. What has always made wide format printing frustrating for some businesses is speed. However, some of the latest devices offer the ability to print as fast as six inches per second, which equates to less than five seconds for a 24" x 36" sign. That might not seem like much of an improvement in the world of standard printers, but for wide format printing, it's 40 times faster than most traditional plotters. There are print devices that will print up to 22 "D" prints per minute - dry toner. HP is introducing a machine in November 2015 that will print 30 "D" ppm - color inkjet, using pigmented inks. So, when choosing a print device, you have options in speed to make the right decision to meet your office workflow and print needs.
2. Larger Print Sizes
The explosive growth of wide format printing in recent years is a result of the wider adoption of print jobs that require wide format printers to complete. According to Markets and Markets, an industry analysis firm, wide format printing is expected to reach over $12 billion globally by 2016. Everywhere you go, you are likely to encounter wide format prints in the form of special event flags, vehicle graphics, floor graphics and signage in shopping malls.
As new industries turn to wide format prints and other industries expand the use of them, larger sizes are in demand. There are now newer devices capable of printing graphics up to 80 inches, and can even print those graphics directly to rigid substrates.
3. Advances in Ink
One of the newest capabilities in wide format printing comes from ink. The latest machines offer the ability to print eight colors with resolutions up to 1000dpi. Increasingly, UV-curable inkjet devices are on the rise in the minds of businesses and consumers. The global market for this technology is predicted to grow from $1.42 billion just five years ago, to $3.04 billion in 2015. The reason behind the growth is multifaceted.
First and foremost, UV-curable inkjet production technology offers faster production speed for users, while eliminating longer dry times. Lower operating costs are possible because the ink is more efficient to use in the devices. UV-curable ink also provides more efficient operation in the form of variety. You can produce a wider variety of media products using this ink, making it easier to switch between jobs.
Finally, for the company with green initiatives, UV-curable inkjet is more environmentally friendly to use in the office than solvent inkjet. UV-curable ink does not contain any chemicals that pose significant health risks (skin and eye irritation) compared to solvent inks, does not require special ventilation in the device or print room, and does not contain harmful HAPs or VOCs.
Why Should You Upgrade?
The lack of significant advancements during the last decade as a whole has allowed companies to maintain the same machines for a long period of time, saving money and avoiding constant change in the office. In most cases, machines are replaced and upgraded to avoid performing constant (costly) maintenance, sync the devices with new software programs or operating systems, improving efficiency and adapting to changes in the industry.
Other times, you may need to upgrade wide format printing in your office to save money and improve efficiency. As drivers, firmware and compatibility of your current wide format printer become outdated, the cost-per-print price may go up and productivity will fall, costing your business money.
Based upon the advancing capabilities listed above, there are other reasons to consider upgrading. Given the ability of advanced devices to produce print projects faster, these new capabilities enable growth in your business. Without purchasing more machines and hiring more employees, your business can produce more prints with a machine capable of printing faster.
You could also enable growth by branching out into different projects with richer colors and larger format prints than previously produced for in-house projects and print jobs for clients. Any way you look at it, there are many reasons to consider taking advantage of these new wide format printing capabilities to improve your business.