Sign makers know about getting their work seen. It's all about using colour, shape and contrast to make their work stand out, get noticed and do their job. Roland DG content marketing executive Paul Kerins explains how adding the right technology to that knowledge will allow you to explore lucrative and creative business opportunities.
Wide format technology has exploded in the past few decades and if sign makers aren't offering these services, their customers will go elsewhere. Many Roland DG users first invested in wide format after seeing the huge demand for printed work. After weighing up the cost of outsourcing it against the price of bringing it in-house, they have found their return on investment to be quick, almost painless - and even fun. Business owners might wonder whether they even need a new printer. It’s easy to rely on familiar or ‘safe’ methods. What they may not realise is that a solvent or UV-LED printer can quickly become the hub of their workshop, adding value to their existing processes.
Meeting fresh demands
A retailer might order a traditionally made fascia sign plus posters for the shop windows, hanging signs, health and safety signage, price stickers, staff uniforms – the list goes on. The right wide format set-up can meet fresh demands, in-house, as they come along.
With any kind of investment business owners need to weigh up the initial cost and resources required. A lack of information can make it seem riskier than it actually is. Printers that deliver high quality output are affordable in themselves and when considered in terms of increased production speeds and workflow efficiency, the time savings add up too and the purchase soon pays for itself.
Systems with remotely managed control systems and network connectivity allow users to work on another machine or even off the premises while the printer gets on with the job. When you look at multifunctional systems such as combined printer-cutters you really get more bang for your buck. Furthermore, there is an enormous variety of substrates onto which you can print with solvent and UV-LED printers, providing even greater versatility.
By bringing print jobs in-house sign makers will regain control over turnaround speeds, workflow efficiency and quality – adding to their bottom line and their valued reputation. This ability to monitor quality is particularly important for corporate clients who demand accuracy in brand colours, logos and styles. Buyers should look for digital wide format printers with easy-touse software and colour libraries containing commonly used brand colours. Digital systems can achieve effects that their brand-conscious customers will demand. For example, logos with colourfades or tints are incredibly easy with digital print and merely having this capability adds value and impact, both for the customer and for the sign maker.
One of the big questions sign makers should ask is whether they can afford not to invest in more advanced print solutions. In a rapidly evolving marketplace, their competitors are also seeking new solutions and reluctance to invest can become a major risk.
Versatility of wide format
A key benefit to going digital is the versatility of wide format printers. There might be half a dozen sign shops in any given town offering point-of-sale and posters alongside signs but maybe only one who offers those services plus vehicle decals or promotional items. Investing in a combined printer/cutter lets sign makers produce everything from banners and vehicle wraps to labels and POP displays.
However, there are no geographical boundaries. Many print providers specialise, using the internet to enable customers – corporate and consumer – to find them. Roland users include specialists in bespoke wall coverings or personalised gifts, printed in-house and shipped to customers across the UK in days or even hours. At the Roland Academy, attendees are coached in both how to use their equipment and how to position their business around it.
Sign makers who are limited by space may be reluctant to add to their workshop, however, some print solutions like the VersaUV LEF-12i are literally desktop systems. These compact printers can expand a business far more than their size might suggest. UV printers that can print CMYK, white and gloss – which can be laid down in layers – allow users to create textural effects onto a dizzying array of materials. Having these abilities is a great way to stand out from the competition and create a unique value-add. The key is to find a solution that can offer versatility and let print businesses offer a broader range of services.
For sign makers interested in wide format, the best advice is to go and see the range of systems available – it might be surprising what they can do.