“Before You Buy a Printer -
Would you like to know
the 10 most important things to consider when
shopping for a sign printer?
large format sign printers are intended to print on vinyl
media, such as self-adhesive decal and sign materials,
or banner material, but many will also print on paper. A few
specialty machines will also print directly on hard surface
substrates, for example wood, plastic, metal, or even
are two main types of large format sign printers: Ink Jet
and Thermal Transfer (also called Thermal Resin).
printers come in two types, solvent and eco-solvent.
The latter uses environmentally-friendly ink. The regular
solvent printers require ventilation or an air cleaner on
the operating premises, whereas eco-solvent printers can be
operated safely without implementing these costlier
procedures. They are certainly healthier in general.
are most suitable for
photo-quality work, fountain fills, and printing on a wider
variety of media. The production costs can be less expensive
than thermal transfer. However, if lamination is required,
production costs will be equal to or greater than thermal
transfer printing. Regular solvent inks are more durable and
scratch-resistant than eco-solvent inks, which makes them better
for outdoor or other high-wear applications. However, research
and development in eco-solvent inks is constantly improving
them. Both types will stand up for 3 years outdoors.
main disadvantage of inkjet printers is that lamination of the prints is required for use on
vehicles and other high-scrub applications. Lamination adds to
the production costs, negating the low production cost
advantage in these cases. Having
said that, inkjet is the most appropriate choice for vehicle
wraps, due to the high speed capability.
most important point in the operation of ink jet
printers is having the proper ICC (International Colour
This consortium sets the standards for colour
management in the imaging world. In order to achieve optimum
print quality, these profiles must be created to determine the
exact hardware/software/media/environment configuration. Be
aware that generic ICC profiles will give you much lower print
quality on most substrates. It is not wise to accept this excuse
from a supplier. The proper profiles do make a huge
difference to your customer. SignEquip has the expertise to create these profiles for your
situation, or to train you how to do it for yourself.
printers are the healthiest choice,
because the inks come in a resin ribbon-type cartridge, and
there are no fumes.
is not needed, this is another cost saving feature for you.
They are best at producing an instant and highly
durable print, without the need for lamination in almost all,
except extreme, cases.
Although inkjet is the best choice for vehicle wraps,
when it comes to vehicle decals, thermal transfer is a
better option, saving time and money by not having to
Another time-saving feature is the elimination of print
drying time. The prints can be
pulled directly off the printer and installed, including
advantage of thermal transfer
is the availability of spot colours, for those bright, clean colours
that can’t be achieved with an ink jet.
Besides the two main types of printers, either of these
types can come with a cutting feature built in, whereby
you can contour cut your finished prints right on the
printer itself. The advantage of this is the time-saving
feature of a one-step operation, or the space-saving quality
of having only one machine. The important thing to
keep in mind is that if you use an ink jet printer/cutter to
produce a product for extreme use (as mentioned above), it will have to be
laminated before it is cut. This eliminates the
advantage of the built-in cutter. In fact, depending
on the registration capability of the unit, it may make it
more difficult, and you may find it easier to cut it on a
separate machine after all.
Note: Both the Summa DC4 and DC4sx
not only contour cut, but they also perform a second
cutting step which will cut through the backing sheet to
die-cut your finished prints.
Many manufacturers do not include the cutting feature on
the printer. In this case, you must use a separate vinyl
cutter for contour cutting purposes. There are several
advantages to using a separate cutter, the three most
a) Print heads
don’t get clogged or damaged with dust and debris from
The cutter is also available for other stand-alone cutting jobs.
Concerning ink jet printers only: For outdoor applications the
prints will need to be removed from the printer and laminated
before cutting anyway. This renders the cutting
SignEquip can offer you all of the aforementioned options (except for ink jet printer/cutters).
We’ve chosen our large format sign printer inventory for the
purpose of offering as many choices as possible to our
clients. Not all sign businesses are created equal.
Depending on your market, you will want to choose the
printer which works best to create the products you intend to
sell. In most
in order for a business to expand into more markets, more than one kind of
printer will be required.
If you’re only capable of purchasing one printer at a time,
our client service experts will help you determine which
will be your best choice in any given instance. We can help
you start off with the printer which will give you the widest
range of possibilities. In most cases we
recommend a thermal transfer printer to start. Thermal
transfer provides the most market opportunities. However, if your market has very specific and
exclusive requirements, we’ll help you choose the right printer
to accomplish your purpose. When you’re ready to add to your
market share, we can assist you to make the best additional
for your growing business.
interested in seeing a printer in action? We’d be happy to make an appointment to demonstrate any of
the printers on our floor. If we don’t happen to have the model
in which you’re interested at our showroom, we can often arrange
with a client-friend to allow you to witness it in operation on
important to choose a supplier that is prepared to
provide some basic training before or after the printer is
delivered to your premises. Large format digital sign printers are
expensive, high tech equipment, and require professional
set-up instructions. In order for the operator to acquire optimal
print quality for specific applications, some training is
required. SignEquip will provide this training at our
depot free of charge, or for an extra fee to cover travel
expenses, we'll schedule installation and training at your
premises. After this initial training, we are always
available for tech support over the phone.
choose a supplier which simply ships the machine to your door,
and absolves themselves of responsibility beyond that point,
chances are you’ll never optimize use of the equipment, or
you’ll incur expensive training costs by a third party.
important to get a professional reference. Find out
what’s working for other sign manufacturers. What are
the pros and cons of the equipment they’re using? Are they
happy with their choice(s)? Are they happy with their
supplier(s)? Given what they now know, would they make some
different decisions next time? Rely on their experience.
more information, and to get all your questions
answered, contact us by phone, fax, or email. Drop by
We can even give you references to contact.
experts are always glad to help you make the best choices
for growing your business.
- By T.
Raven with Blair Corbin
Click here for more info and a
quick comparison between thermal transfer and inkjet printers
(as seen in SIGNED UP