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Hands on: Seal 62 Pro S laminator

A front mounted control panel and foot pedal make this an easy to use machineThe trend in laminators is toward entry-level models but there’s still a need for top of the range laminators such as this model say users.

Since the advent of UV printers and their ability to print direct to board substrates we don’t tend to hear much about laminators. Yet, they are still essential for finishing solvent and aqueous prints. The obvious use is to mount these prints to boards, which a great many people are still doing. Laminates are also used to add protection to a print, usually from the effects of UV light, but also protection from weather for outdoor signs, and from scratching and vandalism for displays in general. But there is a wide range of laminating films for different effects. This includes changing the texture of a print or adding a glossy or matte finish. On top of this laminates can also be used to enhance the colours in an image, or to add special effects such as frosting.

Money, money, money

Phil Thompson of the BPIFIf only spending it was funny, but it’s a serious business, which is why Phil Thompson, head of BPIF Business, offers this investment business model.

With areas of the economy showing improvement, one area that still seems to be lagging behind is business investment. This has led those who study the markets to speculate that this is one of the reasons behind the lack of improved productivity and high employment levels. What is clear is that companies that get investment right will inevitably capture the most profitable opportunities, clients and markets. Companies that don’t will be left to compete on unfavourable terms and smaller returns.

Designs on new applications?

Designs on new applications? Then you’ll need to catch up with developments in software packages that can help your creatives expand your business. Nessan Cleary investigates.

We've long argued in these pages that smart investments in software can squeeze additional productivity out of your existing hardware. But what about one area that's often overlooked - design software. This year’s Widthwise Survey data again threw up the fact that a significant proportion of large-format print solutions providers have diversified into design and are, or plan to, expand services in that area because there’s so much value-add to be gained by doing so.

Colouring in the whole picture

With colour accuracy and consistency a key issue, Paul Sherfield of the Missing Horse Consultancy looks at how a colour-managed workflow can help you save money, assure quality and retain clients.

As workflow specialist and consultant Paul Sherfield points out, colour management is a ‘right first time’ system when used correctly.

IR talks to… Neil Felton and Roz McGuinness

Neil Felton and Roz McGuinness from FespaWith Fespa Digital now just a couple of weeks away, Lesley Simpson thought it timely to catch up with Fespa CEO Neil Felton and still relatively new divisional director Roz McGuinness. 

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you’ll know that Fespa is an umbrella federation of 37 national associations for the screen, digital and textile printing communities. And that since it was founded in 1962 it has grown to be one of the biggest exhibitions and conferences organisers for the sectors it serves. A Fespa Digital 2014 preview appears in the May issue of Image Reports so we didn’t dwell too much on that upcoming event, but on the organisation’s plans and how its development will impact upon the digital wide-format market.

Thinking outside the tick boxes

Cestrian is putting the environment at the heart of its operations. Here’s how and why.

When it comes to the environment, if all you're interested in is being able to put a couple of lines on your website about your green credentials you’ll not bother reading any further. If, however, you see advantages in taking the issue more seriously you will be interested in how Cestrian is pushing the envelope. This spring the Stockport-based company, which already holds ISO14001 and EMAS accreditations, was awarded the silver level of the Carbon Smart certification too. It impressed the panel so much that it completely bypassed the usual entry-level certification (Carbon Smart blue) and it’s now heading for gold level. Why?

Think Bigger: Roland

Rob Goleniowski, business manager, sign and graphics, Roland DG (UK), explains what the company is doing to promote wide-format print possibilities to creatives.

The creative and design sectors rely on raw inspiration and creativity as their engines for success and at Roland DG the corporate mission statement focuses on exactly that: “transforming imagination into reality”.

What’s going down...

Fespa Digital 2014 is set to be bigger and bolder than previous shows....At Fespa Digital 2014, the theme of which is ‘dive deeper into digital print’.

Fespa Digital 2014 promises to be bigger and bolder than any that have gone before, and present an ‘ocean of opportunity’ for the printer... and hopefully to designers, product managers, brands, agencies, marketers and advertisers, all of whom Fespa aims to attract to this digital wide-format print, signage and garment decoration show that encompasses Fespa Fabric and European Sign Expo.

Thinking big

Julian turner, left, discusses test prints with operator Paul NewmanJCT Visual Communications has just invested in a Screen Truepress Jet W3200UV to drive the next stage in the company’s development.

Most people buying their first flatbed printer would probably opt for something close to an entry-level model so that they could test the market. But Julian Turner, who owns JCT Visual Communications, took a different approach, choosing instead to invest in Screen Europe’s latest wide format printer, the Truepress Jet W3200UV, a highly-productive mid-range flatbed first premiered at last year’s Fespa and only launched at the end of last year.

What Widthwise 2014 shows

343 print companies involved in digital inkjet wide-format production from across the UK and Ireland completed this year’s survey, making it the biggest poll yet of the sector’s domestic players. Here are the key findings.

The data is in and the report is out. Widthwise 2014 is an analysis of the information provided by grassroots large-format print producers, the seventh consecutive year Image Reports has conducted such research. Get your hands on it and you’ll get a true insight into the shape of the UK and Ireland market – where the growth is, where the investment is going etc. The full Widthwise Report is available for free download, but here’s a heads-up on the key findings.

Jack Murphy, marketing director, Bullseye Print Awards

Image Reports speaks to Jack Murphy, marketing Director, Bullseye Print Awards.

Greg Craigen, director, SignAway

Image Reports speaks to Greg Craigen, director, SignAway.

Hands on: Mimaki TX400

Users tell of how this unit provides a relatively cheap way of printing to fabrics for everything from banners to tablecloths.

There are a lot of advantages to printing to fabric for so- called soft signage but textile printing can also open up new markets for wide-format print providers, such as interior décor and even clothing.

Greenwashing to dry

Two Sides is doing a great job in challenging the assumption that digital is more environmentally friendly than paper-based print. But can you do more to help spread the word?

In February, The Guardian newspaper ran an article ‘Is digital really greener than paper?’ in response to the print industry’s challenge for the world at large to rethink this wide held belief. As the piece acknowledged: “We've all received statements from our banks, telecommunication and utilities companies with a simple message at the bottom urging us to ‘Go paperless, save trees’.” The implicit message is that print is damaging to the planet.

Infrequently asked question time

Nessan Cleary flags up key areas of pre-investment discussion as trade show season gets underway.

There’s a number of trade shows over the coming few weeks, which of course we'll report on, and where there will undoubtedly be a lot of new/updated kit. But before we become too involved in looking at the new devices and their must-have features, we thought it time to consider the questions you should be asking before the 2014 investment cycle starts gathering momentum.

Summit Synopsis

We’re doing well, but we can do better according to Fespa Global Summit speakers. Here’s the upshot of the two-day event.

Technology is driving convergence. And so is customer expectation. If there was one key takeaway from the recent Fespa Global Summit, it was that what we fear should be what we embrace. That we’ve got to get beyond the mindset of being a ‘printer’ and think about how we can become specialists in visual communication, whatever that might entail.