June '21

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 1 J U N E G R A P H I C S P R O 1 9 "The type of maintenance that takes place is wiping the heads at a certain fre- quency and changing the filters at a cer- tain frequency," says Krumm. He notes that some manufacturers offer a checklist that outlines what needs to be done once a week, once a month, etc. Smith and Bokuniewicz specifically sug- gest following those recommended proce- dures. "Daily startup procedures, main- tain and cleaning print heads with ap- proved wiping clothes … treat those print heads like gold. Keep them clean and the print head plate as well," they state, adding that filter replacements are also common. The big kicker when it comes to main- tenance: white ink. "Typically, hybrid printers will have white ink and (we) have seen customers neglect their white ink channels, either through not prop- erly maintaining them, or running flush through them as needed," note Smith and Bokuniewicz. "This can cause clogged inkjet print heads, and potentially a need for print head replacement." Speaking of ink, hybrid printers offer a color gamut that will keep customers happy. As technology improves, so do the benefits this equipment offers. "We like to talk about it as an ecosystem. You have the RIP, the ink sets, and you have the printer," notes Krumm. "At the same time as getting inks with a greater gamut, on the printer side we are getting smaller drop sizes and getting more accurate with placement." "For U V-based inks, the color gam- ut will satisfy most customers with tra- ditional CMY K inks," add Smith and Bokuniewicz. "Ink properties like color gamut, tackiness, adhesion, (and) flex- ibility are all parts of the ink formu- la. (Our company) provides a general- purpose ink that fits most applications. However, some manufacturers have dif- ferent ink sets for specific applications like thermoforming." On top of those improvements, speed is also a major selling point with this equip- ment. "When the printer's printing, it's making money," Krumm points out, spe- cifically calling out the nonimage side of the process. "Your setup time is impor- tant; the faster the printer goes, the more effect on the nonimage time." But Crawford believes a shop shouldn't just buy the fastest printer out there and hope for the best. "The ability to have a hybrid printer that can print on both roll and rigid media is the key. With our line of printers, we can determine what the best entry point for speed is for the cus- tomer's current production and then they can upgrade in the field to achieve high- er speeds as they grow without having to purchase a new printer." A FEW MORE THINGS … Like any equipment, hybrid printers don't come without their share of challeng- es, though they're pretty minor. "Some challenges, such as managing large 4' X 8' substrates, especially like acrylic, will probably need two people to help man- age the sheets on the press," Smith and Bokuniewicz say. Krumm builds off this point, calling to attention the plethora of applications hy- brid printing is great for as being a po- tential challenge. "Sometimes you stretch your imagination a little too far and take on work that you go through too much testing for," he says. "Be careful of for- eign substrates and special applications, make sure you test first, make sure you can finish the job, print it, and not have a lot of waste." Those few challenges are generally not scary enough to stop a shop from diving into the hybrid printing world. In the end, there are so many support options and ap- plications that it's hard to say no to adding this technology. GP CASSIE GREEN is the executive editor of GRAPHICS PRO magazine, and previously served as the editor for A&E magazine. You can reach her at 720-566-7278 or Below: You can do so many appli- cations with a hybrid printer that you need to govern what you know you can do and what you can't do. Fig- ure out what you can do before you sell a project. (Image courtesy EFI)

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