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Buying the right printer

Photos courtesy Fujifilm Canada

Photos courtesy Fujifilm Canada

By Tony Karg
The question of which wide-format printing system to buy depends on the business of the buyer. Print service providers (PSPs) that specialize in producing catalogues and sell sheets are still best-served by offset printing, for example, while those focusing on direct mail will benefit from variable data printing (VDP). Display graphics inkjet printers, meanwhile, not only serve the sign industry with banners, point-of-purchase (POP) graphics, posters and ‘window clings,’ but can also handle smaller-format applications, like counter mats, decals and stickers.

Signmakers must therefore start by asking which business they are in and which they want to be in. Display graphics printers vary greatly in terms of quality, format (e.g. stand-alone printer or hybrid press), size, speed, ink type and labour automation, all of which help determine their ideal output.

Outdoor banners
Printed banners for outdoor installation are created using scrim banner vinyl, where a cotton or synthetic weave is embedded into vinyl to reinforce its strength. Common weights of these materials vary from 369 to 510 g (13 to 18 oz) per 0.8 m2 (1 sq yd).

Onset front view-2

Signmakers need to consider the scale of display graphics they expect to produce in the future.

The material is a good fit for today’s outdoor-graphics printers, as it will last one to three years outdoors without needing overlamination. Finishing does, however, involve taping, sewing or welding the outer edges to prevent tearing. Grommets may be inserted for installation or pole pockets created to allow the insertion of dowels for hanging banners.

Indoor banners
Printed banners for indoor installations are relatively similar to their outdoor counterparts. The outer edges are taped, sewn or welded and pole pockets may be added for hanging. They are also a good fit for today’s outdoor-graphics printers, achieving one- to three-year durability with no need for overlamination.

The material is somewhat different, however. A smooth scrim banner vinyl, designed to reduce glare from reflected light, will commonly only weigh between 170 and 283 g (6 and 10 oz) per 0.8 m2 (1 sq yd). It can also be delivered to retailers and other clients in a banner stand for easy installation.