Technology offers instant gratification to consumers on a daily basis. Customers expect shorter lead times and lower prices all with a greater range of services. Print companies are noticing this shift and have started investing in grand format printing.
A grand format printer allows a commercial print business the freedom to offer a wide array of products. These industrial-class presses are designed specifically to run continuously 24/7 and produce multiple different products.
Keep these tips in mind if you’re considering adding a grant format printer to your business.
Figure Out What You’re Using It For
The grand format printer you choose, as well as the ink that you use, should be suitable for your printing company’s target applications. Additionally, it should produce the image quality that your customers need. For some companies, grand format printers may not be the best choice. You’ll need to carefully consider the cost of the output compared to your current printing methods. The return on investment (ROI) may or may not be favorable and requires proper research.
Site Evaluation & Delivery Requirements: Incorporating a Grand Format Printer
Your facility needs to have enough free space to accommodate this sizeable piece of machinery. Many popular models produce a 10’ print width, so you can imagine how large these machines can get. You will also need to add a three-foot perimeter for easy maintenance access.
The floor beneath the grand format printer must be completely level, and it should be capable of supporting the press’s considerable weight. You can consult with the printer’s manufacturer to get information about printer-on-pallet dimensions to make sure it fits in your facility.
To ensure that the printer is installed and placed safely and efficiently, you’ll need to hire a licensed and bonded rigger. If it’s a roll-to-roll unit, you will need to plan space for extra rolls near the grand format printer. If it’s a hybrid model that can print both rigid boards and roll stock, plan a path to the area where cutting, routing, and finishing will occur.
Preparing the Site: Power, Air, & Environmental Concerns
Grand format printers are industry-class machines with immense power and specific air requirements. During the quoting process, the printer’s manufacturer should be able to provide you with an installation guide.
A grand format printer requirements:
- 208 volts
- 50 amps
- 50/60 Hz
- Electrical Transformer
- Compressed Air at 100-120 PSI
- Temp: 55-85 degrees Fahrenheit
- >55% Humidity
The electrical component installation should be carried out by a licensed electrician, who can ensure that everything is done to code.
Before you install the printer, you may need to design an exhaust system based off of local emission regulations. A mechanical contractor can explain the appropriate size for an exhaust fan and where to install a duct.
IT and Software Considerations
Before printing, your grand format printer will need a network connection to the pre-press computer that handles RIP processing and other tasks. The press itself will have a unique IP address, which the manufacturer uses to provide remote diagnostics. Most grand format printers use an open architecture, which allows them to connect with different production software programs that have the correct drivers.
After images are processed at a RIP station, they can be sent into the queue for printing. RIPed files should not be printed over the network, as the data needed to print these images will exceed the network’s bandwidth, slowing everything down.
If you’re changing the type of ink that you use with your new printer, you’ll need to set aside time, to obtain a set of color profiles for your high-volume materials. Over time, you can add to the profile library. To get you started, the manufacturer will provide one or two color profiles.
Grand Format Printer Delivery
As we’ve mentioned, you’ll need a licensed and bonded rigger for installation. First, determine a strategy for delivery during the rigger’s quoting process, and make sure the path from the loading dock and the installation location is level, cleared, and able to support the printer’s weight.
Prior to delivery, everything needed for installing the grand format printer should be in place. When the printer arrives, inspect its crate and packaging to make sure that it hasn’t sustained any damage during transport.
Integration & Training
To successfully integrate grand format printing into your business, you’ll need to train your staff. If possible, designate one person to be in charge of training everyone on the new press. If you desire someone that has a specialized grand format printing skill set, recruit or hire additional staff. The printer’s manufacturer may offer training materials and onsite training services. Take advantage of any training available through the manufacturer.
Going Grand Format
Adding a grant format printer to your facility can allow you to print faster, reduce load times, and produce a wider range of products. It’s a great way to keep up with rapidly evolving consumer demands in a complex and challenging marketplace.