June '21

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purchase a roll-to-roll or flatbed versus a hybrid is based on percentage of roll ver- sus rigid work," he points out. "Customers that do a small percentage for roll work many times can get by with an inexpen- sive roll printer and a flatbed." He adds that finding that "sweet spot" is when the roll versus rigid percentage gets closer to the same volumes. Speaking of the production process, ef- ficiency is also a major consideration when it comes to purchasing decisions. Todd Smith and Ed Bokuniewicz of Konica Minolta USA advise that a shop should consider this equipment "when you are looking to reduce labor costs of mount- ing roll media to foam core, increase your production time and output, and expand the types of applications your shop is do- ing." They add that if you already own a flatbed router/cutter, the hybrid can make a great complementary addition. With any new equipment, training can spook a business owner when deciding whether to purchase it. Luckily, there isn't a huge learning curve associated with hy- brid printers. Crawford notes that train- ing on most hybrid printers is not diffi- cult. "Typically the most difficult part of printing is making sure that the third-par- ty RIP is configured properly to RIP the customer's file," he notes. Most manufacturers offer training and support when the equipment is purchased. "For an experienced operator, training can normally be achieved in two to three days. For beginning operators, more time will be required if they don't have experience with wide-format workflow," add Smith and Bokuniewicz. From there, operators will gain confidence as they use the print- er. "The operator will learn over time how to handle various applications from print- ing on different types of substrates, like acrylic, glass, metal, printing on objects, (and) creating jigs. It all depends upon what applications the shop is exposed to from their customer base and what appli- cations they want to produce." DOWN TO DETAILS There are many other details shops should know about hybrid printers. For example, there are some maintenance procedures to be aware of. Right: Owning a hybrid printer allows shops to expand their services into rigid materials. (Image courtesy Fluid Color) Below: Following simple maintenance tasks will keep your hybrid printer running at peak performance. (Image courtesy Konica Minolta USA) ( TH ) INK SPECIFICS T H O M A S K R U M M , E F I W hat applications does an expanded ink set open up for PSPs? It goes to having all sorts of inks for all sort of applications. (Some manufactur- ers, including EFI) have thermoforming for thermo printers. We have ink sets that allow embossing and layering for printing something that looks and feels like wood. We can make things feel like leather, to feel like embossed names. Then we have other things like clear ink, which allows us to create high-value prints, like very high gloss prints that accent certain areas of the print, or could be a flood over the en - tire print. We also have our white ink capability that we print on back-lits for diffusing the light so viewers don't see the light on the other side of the light box. We can do dual prints: one message on the back during the day, then a different image shows at night. These are high-value applications that graphics shops can charge more for. We can do anything with white that we can do with color. We have a lot of customers doing wallpaper or window films — they can adjust what you can see through. 1 8 G R A P H I C S P R O J U N E 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M

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