Sign & Digital Graphics

March '18

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34 • March 2018 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S DIGITAL PRINTING AND FINISHING DIGITAL GRAPHICS to fit the final sign, typically 60 inches or more. Also, in the sign business, the bottleneck is typically the printing speed; hence fast printers are paramount to the sign industry." So, much like printing with other machines and techniques, speed is a must. But other factors also come into play, such as types of ink, substrates, software and more. Maximizing all of these elements contributes to how a dye-sublimation print can succeed in the sign industry. For sign makers who are unfamiliar with or have just started in dye-subli- mation printing, there are steps to take in order to build your business. One of the most obvious is to choose the right printer. The Printer "First and foremost, print service providers should consider the printer they'll be using for dye-sublimation applications," explains Lily Hunter, prod- uct manager, textiles and consumables, Roland DGA. "It's important to purchase a reliable, well-built sublimation printer, like a Roland Texart RT-640 or Texart XT-640." She says shop owners should inves- tigate what is included in a printer pur- chase, and educate themselves about guarantees and printer support. "Be aware of any hidden costs, the manu- facturer's warranty and terms, the level of support you will receive, consumable costs, and other variables," Hunter says. Dye-sublimation printing offers high-quality, colorful prints for both soft and hard signage. (Image courtesy of Roland DGA) Next, shop owners should anticipate what types of jobs they plan to tackle with their printers. This could have an impact on the size and cost of the printer selected. "Sign makers need to assess what kinds of signs they want to offer," notes Robin Kavanagh, public relations man- ager, Sawgrass Technology. "This will determine the size of printer and heat press they will need. For example, if they want to concentrate on nameplates, P.O.P. signs and other small signs, a desktop system will likely be enough. The invest- ment would be between $600 and $2,500, depending on whether you need a heat press. I always recommend a 16" x 20" press for these systems, which provide prints up to 13" x 19". If you're looking to make a high volume of signs, or larger signs, then you'll need a larger roll-feed printer." The Substrate Along with assessing the type of job is choosing the appropriate substrate for the job. For some proj- ects, it is fairly simple to determine which substrate to use; others may present a variety of options. "It seems that the applications for sublimation are ever expanding beyond the traditional flag application of years past," says Greg Lamb, CEO, Global Imaging. "The exhibit industry is domi- nated by fabric as there is no limit to the size and shapes that can be created. Another driver in the exhibit industry is that the lightweight nature of fabric really offers costs savings when it comes to drayage." Hunter agrees that exhibit displays are common choices for dye sublima- tion printing. She also notes that "Flags, backlit signs, backdrops, table covers, tents—all of these are popular dye- sublimation applications within the sign industry. However, rigid signs, menu boards, flooring, and tables are some great examples of additional products that can also be sublimated." The PrinterEvolution D3200 with an inline calender prints direct to fabric, or using transfer paper with a single ink set. (Image courtesy of Global Imaging)

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