IN ORDER TO MAKE it in the print business, a PSP needs software, a wide-format printer, a substrate, and finishing equipment. It can be a daunting task finding the right products and the right provider for the applications you print for your clients.
Before starting from zero, why not take a look at what printers, cutters, media, and tools your peers are raving about? Here’s what 33 of Big Picture’s Brain Squad members had to say about the technology they can’t live without.
We use our Konica Minolta AccurioWide 200 printer on a daily basis and it performs tirelessly for us. Our business would not be as productive without the AccurioWide. Pairing it with the Colex Sharpcut SX1732 allows our shop to run at a higher rate of efficiency. — Norman Critchfield, Hesston Prestige Printing Canon’s Arizona and Colorado printers are making our studio hum these days. We’re having a wonderful time learning all the tricks and cool new features. You should see the faces of the kids as they watch their 9 x 12-foot watercolor come smoothly pouring out of the Colorado at 6 x 10 feet!! The Arizona wowed a class of 4th graders as they watched the magic of holiday ornaments they designed being printed on UltraBoard, destined for the White House’s Christmas tree! And our new line of wallpaper made with children’s art, curated and designed by Twenty2, will preview in the Canon exhibit at Printing United in Las Vegas! — Barbara Allen, Fresh Artists HP Latex 315 print and cut solution. No hazmat, no reek, it prints on any material without coating, and great UV durability. The best friction feed cutter, in my opinion is the Graphtec plotter, and my Vision engraver/router cuts my prints out on harder materials. The three work beautifully together. — Britt Hoff, H n H Sign Company Looooove Roland printers. I currently own two Roland Soljet Pro III XC-540 wide-format printers and just received two Roland DG TrueVis VG3 series large-format printer/cutters.Roland produces some solid workhorses. My XC-540s are over a decade old and they still operate amazing today. I also have rebuilt the XC-540s. I keep a stock of common parts, that way we are never down in production. The VG3s are absolutely amazing. The color gamut is so vibrant compared to what I had maxed on the XC-540s. The new TrueVis ink technology gives the latex printers a run for their money. I mean, an eco-solvent ink that can be laminated after an hour of out gassing… can’t beat that technology. My favorite wrap install tool is Yellotools. — Kristin Lanzarone, WrapStar Pro It was a difficult decision to spend the money on our first Zünd cutting table. Now we own a fleet of them and continue to invest in their latest offerings and equipment. — We’ve had great success with our HP R1000 Latex printer. Very little downtime for a piece of equipment that runs 10 to 16 hours per day. Also, very impressed with our Summa F Series cutter and HF router system. For an entry level cost, it’s a very capable and durable machine. — Taylor Sellinger, Premier Graphics We love our Roland printer/cutter. It’s pretty effortless. Customer support is good, and it makes us money. We also use SignElements.com for much of our clipart/high-res digital art. The annual cost is reasonable, and they have many good photos, eps files, and vehicle outlines. — Ann Durso, Express Sign & Graphics HP Latex printers. These were the original gamechangers for excellent print quality and immediate ability to apply overlaminate film. They revolutionized the industry. And they keep getting better. 3M: Great name, great organization, great product, great support. 3M IJ180CV3 is the wrap film gamechanger with Controltac and air egress channels. It never lets you down. — We’ve been running HP Latex since its inception more than a decade ago. — Roland baby! Perfect printing, reliable, and cost effective. What more could you ask for? Drytac Polar Premium: It’s made in Canada as opposed to **ahem** overseas. — Tim Bezner, Westmount Signs and Printing HP PageWide C500 Press offers true water-based inks, offset print quality with much shorter lead times for our clients. High quality in any quantity! Highcon Laser is fascinating to our clients when they visit for a tour. Precise cutting and improved speed vs CAD tables. — Kristi Duvall, The BoxMaker Zünd cutter. It just runs and runs and runs! — Michael Greenwald, NextPage Vanguard, Vanguard, Vanguard printers. They are incredible. USA-made, incredible printers with great reliability. These are the printers I look at or consider to buy. Forward-thinking company that came from a production background. Dave Cich is light years ahead of the competition. — David Kaiser, Digitype Design Our favorite machine is our wide-format digital cutter. It’s a Summa F1832. It was a game changer for our automation, quality, speed and efficiency. It’s a maker’s delight! — Derek Atchley, Atchley Graphics Really like the EFI Q5R. Durst and Inca have some very attractive offerings, as well. We have to choose the equipment type that best fits our product mix. We do not currently own any wide-format equipment other than EFI and Epson. — Brian Hite, Image Options Equipment would be the new Laguna sign router, nine tool changer. It’s reasonable, fast, and solid. My favorite media is the 3M Envision 480mC Printable Wrap Films. They’re great for so many things: walls to brick to car wraps. The TS4 rough texture holder that holds the heat gun and rolls the film into cinder block, brick, and other harder materials is great for us. — I love the HP Flatbed 7600. It’s really fast, the colors are vibrant, no smell, and I can sneak in a project without it effecting production. — We love our Roland V640. The gamut of color is amazing. It prints, cuts, and does amazing things. With the Epson Sure Color 980, color and output are fast and spot on! — Christine Walsh, Alpha Graphics Zünd Cutter – we are always finding new ways to use this machine. We also love the HP Latex 800W printer. The white ink has expanded our product offering. — Hands down my Mutoh has been our biggest provider. And our Big Squeegee has been a partner to the miles of vinyl that continues to run on Mutoh. We’re a small footprint facility so a 5 x 10-foot table with mentioned pieces make for a productive operation. Love our Mutoh 1624; upgraded from 1204. As far as media, Oracal 651 Vinyl is starting to take over. — Tommy Melendez, Master Graphics NYC HP Latex printer. I love the quality output and simplicity to maintain. — We like the Inca Fujifilm press. We have all print medias, but it has been a workhorse. — Bob Kissel, KDM POP Solutions Group Zünd cutting equipment is, in my opinion, the highest quality made equipment in our industry. The precision combined with how well built they are make all print jobs that go through them a non-issue. Our Rolls Rollers allow new staff with less experience to install vinyl to substrates wrinkle free, aligned, and without bubbles. Game changer machines. Our roll slicers allow us to cut entire rolls of media before printing on them and this saves a ton of time in our finishing department. The roll lifting equipment we use to lift heavy rolls into grand-format machines helps assure no injuries. — Summa F1612 flatbed cutter. It opened our ability to produce more products faster. — Jason Roberts, Futura Color Any SEG frame system and SEG textile printing. SEG is probably the best thing to ever happen to the large format graphics industry. Lintec Optically Clear Window film is my go-to. — Michael Elrod, Synnott Imaging All Weather Products for print media. Bill Rossi is amazing. — Rick Mandel, Mandel Graphic Solutions SwissQprint devices seem to be amazingly well-engineered and very well thought out. Caldera and GMG Color are terrific software tools. — Durst: They have high integrity, I love these guys. EFI: These are our workhorses. Reliable and consistent. — Brian Adam, Olympus Group We have been an Epson shop for more than 20 years, so we are very big fans. We use their printers, papers, and inks… not exclusively, but primarily. We print quite a lot of art canvases, which we coat with Premier’s Eco Print Shield. — Jim Dittmer JDA Creative Color Two of my favorite equipment vendors are EFI and HP. These companies always seem to be on the bleeding edge of technology. Throughout the past 32 years, they have always treated us fairly and have done a great job servicing us and equipment. On the material side, my most valuable partner by far is 3M. 3M is a staple in this industry. There have been countless times over the years that we have asked for help with different projects. 3M always steps up in these situations. I cannot even count the clients we have gained or retained partly due to their support. — Gary Schellerer, ER2 Image Group
Own or manage a wide-format printing business? Join the Brain Squad to participate in useful surveys on issues important to wide-format printing professionals: here.