When it comes to wide-format inkjet printing, printers have delivered some creative artistic, useful, and informative printed projects. Use this article to stimulate your own ideas as to how to approach such a challenge.
By Gail Flower
VMS invested in flatbed UV inkjet printing in 2006 when the company purchased the Inca Spyder 320+W from Fujifilm Sericol USA. Since then, the Inca Spyder has been an integral component in the development of new markets and customers for the company. VMS has been able to expand its printing capabilities to include direct printing on a product, the method used when printing the Horton Crossbow limbs.
Glenn Farrell, vice president
Butler Technologies, Inc. has produced user-interface products for the past 20 years. In the early years, Butler handled traditional screen printing to manufacture membrane switches, labels, and overlays using conventional and UV ink technologies.
Looking at emerging technologies, the company incorporated plotter and laser cutting into its finishing department and began to look at the potential of the emerging digital print market. At that time, seven years ago, there weren’t that many digital devices to meet the resolution demands of Butler’s industrial market. However, the company found a match in the Mimaki 605C. The printer had a 25 x 20-in. bed that accommodated the company’s normal sheet sizes and allowed the use of the same three-point registration they were accustomed to using in the screen-printing process. These two facts made all the difference. Farrell says the dual heads for white created the right opacity in just one pass, the RIP software was intuitive, the light cyan and light magenta provided a wide color gamut, and laser-gap head-height adjustment prevented printhead crashes.
The plan was to use the Mimaki digital printer to meet quick turnarounds and make prototypes, but according to Farrell, they have been able to produce graphically appealing products through photorealistic color that fit more than the initial intended application. Butler has also been able to generate variable data, such as bar codes and sequentially numbered products, with the Mimaki 605C, which had always been a cumbersome process for the company with screen printing.
Butler also used the inkjet printer to enhance low-volume graphics applications. Farrell says one customer embraced the digital capabilities and implemented an entire product-line design change based on the versatility of the unit (Figure 2). Changes in overlay graphics were incorporated to produce a unified look, making it easy to see a link between products.
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