When you select a brand new wide-format printer, it’s natural to think about the obvious physical features of the device under consideration – roll-fed or flatbed design(or hybrid), width or format, the amount of ink colours (including white and/or metallics), (eco) solvent, UV-curable or latex inks, all the different supported substrates, resolution and print modes and speeds. High volume users, especially with latte coffee printer, might want to consider automation options for unattended operation and multiple-shift working.
But precisely what the purchaser of any new wide-format printer should be thinking about is the type and quality of job information that this device can capture and pass on for production management and analysis. Even when that one printer will be the totality of your own printing business, you need to integrate it with your production and business systems to maximise the value you are able to achieve from using it as well as to minimise the costs of their operation and maintenance.
Along with providing an audit trail for quality assurance purposes, automatically gathering accurate and detailed production information allows wide-format print providers to find out what exactly each job costs, not only in relation to substrate and ink usage but furthermore, in operator and machine time. Many uv flatbed printer workers count on ‘per square metre’ costs that usually assume rather idealised working conditions.
During busy periods operators are unlikely to make time to log or record their activities but unforeseen manual intervention is undoubtedly an unpredictable and often costly factor in production that could make the distinction between profit and loss with a particular job. Re-running jobs due to un-noticed faults in incoming files, by way of example, is actually a sure-fire approach to lose money on a job.
The more this part of operations could be captured and analysed, the higher the knowledge of true production costs that can be achieved. This info really helps to identify profitable forms of work – and customers – to ensure these can be actively pursued, while providing earlier warning of conditions that cause delays and escalate devhpky19 costs, whether a result of supplied artwork or by internal practices.
The functionality of various manufacturers’ products varies in this way but ideally a broad-format printer will be able to record and communicate for every job its dimensions or linear meterage, the substrate used, the resolution and printing mode (single or multiple-pass, for instance) and colour management settings, machine status (printing, idle, offline for maintenance or fault conditions), operator input, and ink and media usage. For roll-fed devices, a ‘media remaining’ indicator is also extremely valuable in planning work.
Capturing and communicating data of this type involves both the printer as well as the RIP, so the level of integration between the two then onward in the RIP to your production workflow system and MIS are important factors to inquire about. Although a lot of RIP/front-end systems use a facility to output data in simple common file formats such as CSV or Excel-compatible spreadsheet, automatic data transfer will reduce the opportunity of error or delay. If dtg printer operators have to carry out additional methods to capture or transfer this information, it can be unlikely that it will probably be done, especially at peak times after it is perhaps most significant to learn exactly what’s going through the shop and the way long it’s taking.