To answer your first question – yes, Vegas was awesome. To answer your second question – yes, I am a printing prophet.
Before we left last week, I sat down to jot down some of my thoughts on the trends that I thought we’d see at SGIA; thus, my Printing Predictions blog was born. I thought I’d follow up on my three predictions: automation, technology and substrates.
First, I referenced WhatTheyThink’s commentary that highlighted automation as this year’s top topic. For other print service providers, it might have been – but for us, a print solutions provider, we’re already incorporating automation.
At Custom Color, we use Enfocus’ Switch software to automate our prepress process. This software alerts us of any print problems that might arise before the file hits the production floor. We also use automated finishing – this prevents jobs that move through production quickly to only get hung up at our sewing machines. We find that automation works for us – prepress detects more errors with Switch and the sewing on our prints can be completed quickly and perfectly every time.
We did spot some cool finds that are on our radar. It must first be noted that we love Zund die-cutters – we have two on our production floor now. Zund has outdone themselves with two automation features that really blew our minds. The Bird’s-Eye View is an HD registration dot reader that reads dots as the material feeds onto the cutting surface – this eliminates the time that the camera takes to read the dots after the fabric has been fed onto the cutting surface. Zund has also rolled out a laser cutter that finishes the edges of fabric as it cuts. This automation would certainly reduce time for finishing and I-Cut – faster production for ink in a blink.
Three words: Box on Demand. In case you were wondering, we’re asking for one for the holidays. The Box on Demand system is a highly customized approach at constructing corrugated packaging. This means custom boxes for our custom prints – it also means that packaging costs will be consistent, regardless of configuration, quantity or design. Custom boxes at Custom Color – it’s only fitting.
While we don’t print offset, HP’s Page-Wide makes us wish that we did. This press has High Definition Nozzle Architecture (HDNA) technology – that’s 2,400 nozzles per inch, which prints at 10,000 square feet an hour. This HDNA means HP’s best-in-class print quality while providing enhanced productivity and versatility.
Technology is awesome, but we can’t do what we do without the substrates. We found two new substrate products that we’re excited to get our hands on.
Coated fabric and fabric coating might just be a game-changer. There are certain fabrics that we cannot print on unless we bought entirely new equipment. The addition of coated fabrics and fabric coatings mean that we can use our HP 3500 latex printers to print curtains and other home décor that we had only printed on in our dreams.
We were introduced to a mesh that revolutionizes construction site graphics– Pes Mesh. Pacific Coast Fabrics introduced us to this fantastic dye-sublimated mesh material. This eyelet mesh has an open weave structure, which allows wind to travel through easily. The dye-sublimation process means that the ink will last longer and perform better in adverse conditions. This material is perfect for construction area fencing, graphics and advertising.
SGIA Expo gave us so many ideas and possibilities for research and development. We’re incredibly excited to see what the next few weeks hold in terms of automation, technology and substrates.
Also, I must add one last time…I am the printing prophet.
Jason Milbourne is the Vice President at Custom Color Corp. A designer, pre-press connoisseur, and Royals fanatic by day and a fantasy baseball pro and taco and craft beer arbitrator by night, Jason loves all things fun and crazy….just like his hair. Connect with him on LinkedIn, but don’t follow him on Instagram, because he won’t follow back.