March '23

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5 2 G R A P H I C S P R O • M A R C H 2 0 2 3 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M wide-format equipment and the type of outlets you'll need. 2. Durability: Look for equipment that is built to last and can handle heavy usage. When considering wide-format equipment for your business, it is good to remember that these printers like to be used and don't like to sit, as well as will most likely be running heavily in peak season. Are the printheads under war- ranty, and if so, for how long? Are the inks certified in that printer? You do not want to make this significant investment in equipment, run into an issue, and get caught in the middle of "Who's respon- sible for the repair between the ink man- ufacturer and the printer manufacturer." 3. Ease of use: Consider how user- friendly the equipment is and understand that not all wide-format systems are plug and play. ere could be a need to do color profiling, learning a RIP software, and even the initial setup can be complicated due to the bulk ink system. is means you will need to check the availability of customer support, warranty, and training when purchasing the equipment. I also mentioned the RIP software, so you must ensure that the equipment is compatible with the software you are cur- rently using or planning to use for your design and production. Stepping into wide format should also include looking at your overall production efficiencies. As I said earlier, it is nice to have pranksters ready to press, but you will never gain the return on investment needed if you can't get the finished product out the door quicker. Sublimation ink is the "magic" of the process, and it is also the most expensive kind of small-format desktop unit that comes with a warranty. Cartridges for desktop printers are significantly more expensive than for wide-format units, while many wide-format printers have a bulk ink system which reduces the cost of the ink. You have to be forward-thinking and weigh the initial capital investment, including equipment, materials, setup and training, operating costs, and production needs against your company's goals. Beyond costs and ROI, there are other factors to consider when making the move to wide format. For one thing, you need to look at the footprint of the equipment. ese printers are fairly compact, but they still require about a 6' × 6' space. And you'll have to allow at least a 10' × 10' area for the press. en there are environmental consider- ations. ese are inkjet printers, and they work best and require the least mainte- nance if they are in a controlled environ- ment with optimal temperature (between 60-80 F) and humidity (40-60%). When shopping, be sure to discuss things like this, as well as equipment features, with the distributor or manufacturer. Wide format isn't for everyone. But as its capabilities become better understood and decorators become more aware of the potential value and return they offer, it is becoming a more accessible and viable option for a greater range of apparel-dec- orating operations. GP Wide-Format Considerations Print size: Consider the size of the items you plan to print and make sure the equipment you select can accommodate those sizes. Durability: Look for equipment that is built to last and can handle heavy usage. Ease of use: Consider how user- friendly the equipment is and under- stand that not all wide-format sys- tems are plug and play. How would you respond in this situation? W I D E - F O R M A T P R I N T I N G

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