If you’re a print service provider, there’s one thing you need to know, the world of large format printing is evolving rapidly, and new technologies are evolving every day. The capabilities of printers are exponentially increasing every year, just as technology on a whole is exponentially evolving. The large format printing industry is booming right now as more and more people are demanding large format print services. For a startup print service provider, this can be a bit intimidating or confusing at because it’s hard to know where to begin, or which technology to invest in.
While there are no concrete rules regarding which technology you should use, there are definite guidelines you can follow as to which print finishing equipment might best suit your needs as a print service provider. Let’s take a look at some of the new types of inkjet printing technology hitting the market and the pros and cons that they each bring to the table.
When it comes to inkjet printing, aqueous are dominating the market right now. According to studies, 78% of all the large format printing machines bought in 2012 were of the aqueous variety. The aqueous is the most popular version for a number of reasons.
- Pros – One of the best things about aqueous inkjets is that they are very environmentally friendly. These printers can be set up in any office environment without the danger of harmful fumes leaking out into the air. They also don’t require special ventilation and can be plugged right into to a normal electrical outlet. These printers are some of the least expensive on the market as well, and yet they still put out some of the highest quality resolution possible. Many editions of the aqueous printer also come with the biggest color gamut available.
- Cons – While the actual printers themselves are very inexpensive, the ink and paper can run you a bit more than other printers due to the special coating required on the media for proper adherence of ink.
Resin and latex-based inks are the latest development in inkjet printing technology, and both use water as the primary ingredient. These types of printers need heaters built in so that the ink can dry properly and the media can be as receptive as possible to it.
- Pros – The need for extra ventilation is eliminated with latex printers as the inks are water based, so there won’t be any harmful fumes coming off of them. The use of water as a base is also less harmful to the environment. The prints these machines produce are also very durable and look extremely good on both indoor and outdoor signage applications.
- Cons – The energy usage of latex printers is much higher than other printers because of the heaters needed for curing the media. Some substrates might also not be able to handle the high temperatures of the heaters, resulting in a botched print. However, some newer printers are claiming to use less energy.
Solvent printers use an oil-based solution which holds the pigment and resin. These printers are often used for outdoor printing solutions.
- Pros – The product that solvent printers produce is fade resistant, scratch resistant, and waterproof which makes it perfect for outdoor usage on vehicle graphics, banners, and other damage-prone materials. The print is made on materials that are uncoated, and the top layer of the surface is etched so that the material bonds securely to the substrate.
- Cons – Fumes are a huge downside to this kind of printing technology. Good ventilation is crucial if you want to run this kind of printer. It can take a long time for the product to dry as well if it needs lamination.
4. UV-based Flatbed
Of all the printers on this list, UV based flatbeds are the only ones that use an ultraviolet light to cure the ink.
- Pros – There is money saved on the front end of UV printing because it doesn’t require the use of coated media. The UV ink dries immediately under the ultraviolet light and is extremely durable for outdoors. Another benefit of UV inks is that they can be printed onto nearly any kind of substrate.
- Cons – UV ink is less usable on materials like vehicle wraps due to their stretchiness. The main drawback to UV ink is that it doesn’t dry flat when applicated on media. Even a UV printed image that is dried will still have a certain matte look when finished. Although progress has been made in this area, UV printers still can’t match the quality of other printers like latex and solvents. A good UV inkjet printer is usually pretty expensive as well.
While there are drawbacks and benefits to all of these printers, it’s hard to say that anyone is better than the rest. Each type has its own specific advantages. The type of printer you should choose depends on your budget, your market, and your printing needs. Now that you know the pros and cons of each type of emerging printing technology, you can make the decision that best suits you and your company.