Tag Archives: inkjet

Scodix Inkjet Spot UV––What?

Few know that Israel has invented and produced what I think is the most impressive digital printing equipment. First, came the Indigo digital press, and now comes Scodix. Scodix is a digital inkjet printer that can lay down clear gloss UV ink on preprinted sheets. So, what’s so cool about this?

Well to start, anyone in the industry knows the “wow” effect that spot UV has on the end user. But at the same time, everyone can attest to the “shock factor” when it comes to the cost! Needless to say, the traditional methods of applying spot UV have been reserved for plentiful marketing budgets and long offset runs. With a digital device like Scodix on the market, the Israelis are again changing the standards, much like digital print did to offset in the ’90s.

Scodix does a few cool things that traditional offset spot UV cannot:

  1. Economical short runs
  2. Variable content
  3. Variable depth, finish, surface area

The whole idea is that this technology can open up another dimension on print. As the VP of marketing, Ziki Kuly says best, “print has always been a two dimensional medium.” With the addition of this digital spot UV, Scodix is bringing print into the third dimension!

The real question is: Where can we implement this new technology to increase our return on investment?

 

Author: John Mehl

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Kodak Gets Overexposed on Film––Will Digital Be Its Savior?

Founded in 1892 by George Eastman himself, Eastman Kodak is one of America’s most iconic corporations. Kodak can be credited with the invention of amateur photography, among many other technological evolutions. But where does it stand today? The sad facts point to a company that is near death in all aspects of its financial health.

Headquartered in Rochester, NY, Eastman Kodak is partly responsible for the rise and unfortunately the demise of the local economy. In its heyday, Kodak employed over 60,000 people in Rochester alone; today that number is down to only 7,400! Teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, Kodak has fallen back on its long inventory of patents and commercial printing ventures.

In January of 2010, Kodak began enforcing its patents. It kicked off what will be a decade’s worth of court battles by suing Apple and Research In Motion (RIM). The case was based on patent infringement in regards to digital photography. Unfortunately Kodak lost this battle, but it continues to pursue other infringements with other organizations. Now that Kodak has reached a point where it fears losing everything, the company is toying with the idea of holding a fire sale of its patents in a desperate attempt to drum up needed revenue.

Kodak’s other angle of revitalization has been in the digital print arena. Kodak’s NextPress has been a strong player in the toner-based digital print markets. The most intriguing venture into digital print, however, has come in the form of inkjet technology. Kodak is developing high-volume solutions for digital color inkjet printing and imprinting. It will have a tough time competing with HP in all digital print arenas, but for now Kodak seems to be on the right page.

It’s hard to watch the demise of a well-known American brand. Kodak has always been innovative and creative, and I hope it can continue that in the future. This could be labeled a sign of the hard economic times, but I say it’s a sign of short-sighted business planning. This should remind us that we need to keep looking forward to try to anticipate market changes, or at least be flexible enough to adapt quickly to new models.

So, will this be the company’s Kodak Moment?

 

Author: John Mehl

HP Introduces the T400 Inkjet Web Press

Back in March, HP introduced the newest addition to its line of high-speed inkjet web presses. The T400 is the first of its kind to offer a full-size web width of 42 inches. HP has again opened the door to opportunities that were never before available in the digital print industry. This fills the gap between where digital laser presses stopped and traditional offset presses began. Now quantities from 500 to 5,000––books with high page counts or direct mail applications, for example––are seen as perfect candidates for these machines.

Of course, these high-speed inkjet presses require a substantial investment in finishing equipment, but a traditional offset plant may already have invested in that equipment. The T400 is special in that it can deliver on a 42″ roll or split that web into two 21″ rolls to match most preexisting finishing equipment.

Since HP started installing its T200 and T300 high-speed inkjet presses in 2010, these presses have already printed 1.46 billion pages. Acclaimed print enthusiast Frank Romano, a man I was privileged to study under at Rochester Institute of Technology, has stated that this press is at the “top of the industry,” meaning that this is now the standard of print! Not to mention that in all aspects concerning speed, flexibility, and image quality, this press trumps all the competition.

It is additions like the T400 that will continue to keep the print industry alive and well. Being able to pair variable print with amazing speed is what will allow marketers and advertisers to target exactly who and what they want, when the time is relevant. I honestly can’t wait for the first opportunity that drives me to use this press; it will be a true joy to work with such spectacular innovation.

So, what opportunities do you see this machine opening up for you?

Author: John Mehl

Is digital printing the new standard?

As digital printing is gaining more and more popularity, we have to take a step back and think; at what point will digital become the standard for print quality?  I won’t lie, I still prefer the quality of offset over digital, but that could just be my love for the smell of ink!  In all seriousness though, there is something about a perfectly printed offset sheet that still sets the standard for me. However, with digital presses such as the HP Indigo, that quality is put to the test. Traditional plastic based toner presses (Xerox iGen) still have some catching up to do, and I’m not sure if they will ever equate to that of offset.

Inkjet now is a whole different world. It used to be that a customer would supply a laser print of their project and ask the printer to improve upon that quality. But, today some customers supply an inkjet proof with their job and ask us to keep the quality the same! This, as we know can almost be an impossible task. There is at first the difference in the dot structure. Inkjet being continuous tone, and offset being line screen, but, that’s not the problem. Today a $100.00 desktop inkjet printer can be using seven or more ink colors!  They have the traditional CMYK + light magenta, light cyan, matte black, photo black, and some even having a gloss optimizer! The gamut of these printers far surpasses that of any traditional four-color offset press.

So, how do we handle this? You could print all your offset jobs using six-color processes (hi-fi printing). Or, you can have the difficult, yet appropriate conversation with your client to which that what they had supplied, just isn’t achievable given the processes at hand.

Basically what this boils down to is that you need to keep yourself and your client educated and updated on the latest technologies and processes. If you have a better understanding, your job will be easier. But, I didn’t answer my own question; what is the new standard? And for this, I would have to answer inkjet, for its quality is unsurpassable!

So, how can you use what you know about inkjet printing to your advantage?

Wide-Format Printing Tips

Recently a colleague approached me regarding a straightforward wide-format graphic print and installation project. As the dialogue continued with the client, we realized the details surrounding the project were adding a level of complexity that required a higher level of attention. This post is designed to give you a basic sense of the questions to ask when approaching a wide-format graphics project.

Whether your wide-format printing project covers an office wall, conference room window, high-end window display, or city apartment building, considering a few key points can make the project more successful.

Duration
How long will the graphics remain in place?
Wide-format substrates can vary significantly from one to another. The material used for a massive billboard may cost as little as a quarter per square foot, whereas the more versatile vinyl used for vehicle wraps may be more than a dollar per square foot. It is critical to the success of any wide-format printing project to know how long the graphics need to be in place in order to the best substrate for the installation.

Surface
What type of surface will the graphics be installed on? Glass, drywall, concrete, metal?
A project can fail––literally fall off the wall onto a client or customer’s head––if the wrong material is selected. The complexity of a specific location can add hundreds of dollars to the installation cost as well.

Imagery
What kinds of images will be printed? Full-color images or type only?
Believe it or not, not all digital output devices are created equal, and not every wide-format printer prints using the same settings. One printer may be running its machines at a higher resolution while a lower-priced vendor is running them at the bare minimum. In reality, if the graphics were intended to support the sale of a high-end product, the print from the lower-cost vendor using lower resolution would most likely detract from the buying experience. It is important to provide an early mock-up of the planned graphics for the wide-format project. If the project is printing skin tone, cosmetics, or a neutral color like silver, color consistency and high resolution will be critical, whereas large solids and small images may make the lower-cost printing option work out just fine.

Location
Where will the graphics be installed?
Is the location outside or inside?
“Location, location, location” applies to wide-format graphics as well as real estate. Indoors or outdoors is the biggest factor, but if graphics will be installed on a narrow, closed window in direct Miami sun for 10–12 hours per day midsummer, that could make or break a wide-format graphics project. Graphics installed against the top edge of a wall in close proximity to an air conditioning vent will, with the changes in temperature and dust produced from the ventilation system over time, peel from the wall if not properly reinforced and printed on the correct substrate for the wall type.

There are several other dozen factors that should be taken into account when printing wide-format graphics, but considering duration, surface, imagery, and location will get you on the right path.

 

Author: John Carew

Variable Print on Traditional Offset Equipment: OK for the Long Run!

I’ll bet the first word that comes to your mind when a client says “variable printing” is “digital.” And I guarantee the first word that comes to your client’s mind is “expensive”! The funny thing is that printers have been doing variable printing on traditional equipment for decades. It’s just when digital printing came around that we forgot all about it. The ease of digital printing has made processing complex variable print runs simple, but this comes at a price that is very prohibitive to long runs.

When HP came out with its inkjet web press, many people, including me, were in awe. This piece of equipment has so much potential that I won’t even begin that discussion now. After that initial “love at first sight,” I began to think of where the technology originated. That’s when it dawned on me: Kodak has been retrofitting traditional web presses and bindery equipment with inkjet heads for at least 20 years. Sure, it was primarily only black ink being sprayed, but this was variable print on analog equipment!

Just recently, Kodak and a few other companies have been installing color heads on web presses at trial locations. So, you might ask, what does this mean to me? It means that we can affordably manufacture variable print in very large quantities. Just think–on the same press, on the same pass, you could print your static four-color plus the variable content, including the mailing information. What this basically translates into is blank paper rolls going in one end of the press and a finished, mailable product coming out the other! Don’t think this is low quality either; most heads are laying down 1200 dpi images and text.

So, the next time you’re working on a piece that is headed for a web press, think about adding variable. It won’t cost you a boatload more, and according to industry metrics, it should boost your response rate by more than 500%!

When is the last time you received a piece of mail at home with variable content that wasn’t digitally produced?

 

Author: John Mehl