Sign & Digital Graphics

October '19

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • October 2019 • 39 McConnell says that most people look to grand-format devices because they either need more capacity or they need to be more efficient and they see a grand- format device as a potential solution to solve for that. "In order to find the right device to meet client demands, it is best to see the output of particular files on the intended media. Don't just rely on data sheet speeds for various devices but watch jobs printed and determine how much throughput it will offer based on the required applications. That way, your expectations are closer to equivalent than by relying on stated speeds alone," she adds. Ink Types "It's important to use ink that suits the necessary application; if a print provider is considering a roll device, they should be sure the ink is going to flexible but also adhere to the substrates they intend to use in production," says McConnell. She explains that an all-around versatile ink is always a great option but if a manufacturer/distributor has multiple ink sets for a single device, it's worth discovering what each of those ink sets have to offer a print provider. When it comes to U V -cure inks, "Some may have a wider color gamut but may be a bit more brittle, which isn't good for flexible material or finishing rigid sheets. Or an ink may have a flatter finish but it features excellent adhesion. Durability and coverage are also important factors that need to be considered," she points out. "All these factors (and price of ink, of course) will determine which ink set or type of device is best for your business." She says that every type of ink has certain benefits—whether it be solvent, eco-solvent, latex or UV-cure. Automation Options Hope says for roll-based models look for flexibility in media handling. "Does the printer enable shorter rolls to be run side-by-side? Does it include features for easy loading and unloading? Also, does it include an inline LED backlit proofing panel to check print quality before the entire job is run?" "For flatbeds, the printer should include layout pins for easy registration of large boards," he adds. Garcia says that when measuring the number of prints you need to produce in a specific frame of time, measure all aspects, from loading/unloading, file manipulation at the printer control system to warm up times and scheduled maintenance times. "This will give you a better idea of the real-time output production versus only measuring printing speeds." McConnell explains that there are a number of automation options for grand-format devices. "In terms of flatbeds, there are feeders/ loaders and stackers/off-loaders to help maximize the throughput of printers. It's key to fully evaluate the handling system you are considering to ensure that it's effective in reducing handling time for substrates you intend to print; unless the material handling automation can keep up with the printer and also handle the sheets of substrate a print provider is producing on, there's no benefit to the an automated handling system." She adds there are also systems that are not fully automated, so more operator interaction is needed than a fully automated handling system, but will allow for greater throughput on the printer. "In terms of roll devices, some grand-format printers have bulk roll feed systems that allow for rolls that are heavier or have a larger diameter than the printer specification allows; this means less operator interaction for long run jobs," McConnell concludes. SDG When measuring the number of prints you need to produce in a specific frame of time, measure all aspects, from loading/ unloading, file manipulation at the printer control system to warm up times and scheduled maintenance times.

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