Considerations When Diversifying Into Wide Format Printing

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Although many litho and digital printers already take on wide format work and outsource it to partners with the specific equipment required, this can be very costly and can reduce profit potential. Commercial printers who are thinking of expanding their businesses could consider investing in the latest economical large format equipment options, which can help them enter more markets by taking on different jobs, and be more competitive. This article was published in the Africa Print Journal.

Having equipment in-house gives the printer direct influence on meeting a customer's expectation and deadline. When breaking down the cost of the equipment and operational costs, the printer can realise profits first hand – making the initial investment more attractive. With this in mind, printers should consider the following:

1. Market research: what is the potential with existing and new potential business? Will your existing customers use your services? Research can be conducted in many ways: meetings with existing customers to understand what their requirements are, business forums, cold calling or telesales calls to establish the potential of the market.

2. Budget: what can you afford to spend? Consider different finance options — can the supplier assist with alternative options? You'll also need to research if your current premises can accommodate wide format machinery, or if this needs expanding.

3. Applications: consider which print technology, including eco solvent, UV digital, dye sublimation or water based inks, you should look at. This will be determined by the substrates to be printed on. Will it be fabric, rigid board or self-adhesive products? Align the printer to the majority of your work requirements. Finishing is another factor as ultimately the finished product is what the brand owner is looking for to showcase or advertise their product. Equipment includes eyelet machines, guillotines, laminators and digital and laser cutters, which can be used to finish signage in-house, reducing outsourcing costs and streamlining production.

4. Skills and training: will you upskill existing operators or do you need to look for new skills in the market, and have you allowed for this additional cost? Can your supplier offer operator training?

5. Maintenance and backup: can the equipment supplier offer skilled backup should the unit require repair? Does the supplier offer and extended service contracts once the initial warranty period is over? Will the supplier carry recommended spares locally and how soon can they react to a call out?

The points listed above are the reasons why Antalis South Africa partnered with Docan, a well established UV Printer manufacturer with 12 years of experience in this field. Combined with the experience of the Antalis team, the partnership is a strong combination. It is clear that the South African market has specific requirements when it comes to investing in equipment, the cost of which investing in large format printers and digital cutters has become a challenge to keep the investment within reach of the market.

Antalis through Docan offers a wide range of affordable printer options. The partners share the same business ethics, ensuring that the customer gets a quality product backed locally by the Antalis team, which is trained and certified by Docan. Antalis South Africa completed a successful installation of a Docan FR3210T at Imvakalelo Digital in Cape Town, with more installations planned.

The 3.2m FR3210T UV hybrid printer features extension tables at the front and back and can handle media from 1-50mm thick. It uses an LED drying system and includes a white printing channel. It can print on rigid materials such as: glass, acrylic, aluminium, cellphone cases, PVC foam board, KT board, wood, metal panels, ceramic tiles, MDF, etc. The FR3210T can also handle flexible materials like: paper, advertising banners, certain textiles, wall paper, mesh and self-adhesive vinyl. Printing speeds in production mode are up to 70sqm per hour.

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