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Digital Textile Printing

At the Finish Line

Finessing the production process between print and install.

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Wide-format digital printers are often the focal point in our line of work, and with good cause: The industry as we know it wouldn’t exist without these workhorse machines. But as anyone involved in production will tell you, most digitally printed graphics don’t come off the press ready for installation. While manufacturers are making some strides in the print-and-install realm, the reality is that many jobs need some extra oomph before they leave the print shop floor.

These printed materials require cutting, laminating, routing, framing, mounting, sewing, grommeting, and beyond. Finishing procedures are nearly as diverse as the substrates PSPs image. “Across the board and regardless of application, today’s consumers are demanding finished products, and this trend will likely accelerate as the market becomes increasingly more competitive,” reads ISA’s 2017 “Market Opportunities for Digital Printing” white paper by InfoTrends.

Just as PSPs are eager to keep up with the ever-growing list of customer requests, manufacturers are keen to address the growing demand for in- and near-line finishing equipment. “The global market for new postpress equipment is valued at $4.8 billion in 2018, and … packaging and label finishing equipment [markets] will grow, as will postpress equipment aimed at digital printing systems,” says Smithers Pira’s “The Future of Print Finishing Markets to 2023” report. If your shop’s on the lookout for a new cutter, router, or laminator, the future seems bright.

To produce the most stunning long-term graphics and expertly routed displays, the finishing process should be deliberate and planned from the get-go. “From a workflow perspective, it’s important to design with finishing in mind to eliminate waste creation along the path,” the ISA report adds. Finishing should be much more than an afterthought – “Finishing’s value-added benefits also enable printers to develop consultative relations with clients that extend well beyond print alone.” Awe a new client with your impressive knowledge of which laminate will most prolong the life of their outdoor ad, and you may have a new, long-lasting print buyer.

But with printers churning out thousands of square feet of graphics per hour, how can the finishing department keep up without becoming a burdensome bottleneck? And with so many substrates, how can one shop offer all the finishing that may be required?

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