Productivity vs Quality
Demand for wide-format and décor printing continues to grow, boosted by the ever-improving customisation and short-run capabilities of digital printing. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, research1 predicts a healthy 8.7% annual growth of the market for print products and services between 2017-2022.
While this is great news for print service providers (PSPs), less welcome will be the increasing customer demands for faster turnarounds, shorter runs, and just-in-time delivery. To meet these expectations, PSPs have often had to focus on productivity at the expense of print quality. With the advent of new UVgel technology, however, PSPs will no longer have to make this trade-off.
Inkjet print quality is a complex interplay of resolution, dot volume and placement, colour management, media type, and other factors. Ultimately, though, the quality of the final ink finish is what makes all the difference to the discerning eye.
Using traditional 64” latex and eco-solvent roll-to-roll systems, the high quality demanded by modern print applications – such as signage, POS displays, wallcoverings and floor and vehicle graphics – is only achievable at low print speeds. This is due to two factors: a lengthy drying stage, and the print dots spreading and/or coalescing into each other (otherwise known as dot gain).
These limitations only worsen when highly absorbent media is used. A common solution is to gradually build up the image in multiple layers, depositing less ink on each pass and waiting for it to dry before printing another layer – inevitably impacting productivity and turnaround time.
Nozzle failure due to ink build-up or debris are also common problems when running current systems at high speed, causing unscheduled downtime and potentially making the print product unsellable.