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The Attraction to Large-Format Digital Imaging

(January 2008) posted on Thu Jan 03, 2008

Learn why large-format digital printing is attracting attention from commercial offset printers and others outside the specialty graphics industry and what the affect will be on the market.

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By Rick Mandel

The cross selling of digital printing devices is happening on the color-measurement and verification scene, too. XRite found its place in the screen-printing market in the color matching of the screen shops’ inkrooms and now sees a market to color manage and profile in digital imaging. EFI bought VUTEk and now has its cross hairs on the market for inkjet RIPs, in which names like Wasatch and Onyx have dominated.

Companies like EFI and X-Rite have a long history within the offset/flexo industries that has fostered the advance of color management and prediction. They bring this experience and methodology to the industry for large-format digital printing. This, in turn, filters to the screen-print workplace, where large-format inkjet has gained ground as a complementary technology. The color-management companies’ focus on repeatable color proofing is redefining how we look at our processes. The prepress workflow for offset and flexo is predicated on the least amount of touches, contract proofs for sign offs, instantaneous alterations and approvals, on-press monitor proof, and the use of monitors (soft proofing) for all of the above.

Remote proofing is the newest push into the large-format industry from our friends in offset/flexo— proofing via our computer screens. The vendors involved in color management are working through our advertising clients to specify this method of prepress proofing. It was the buzz to streamline yet another process that we touch and feel, with the goal of reducing costs and time frames. For example, one major beer company is attempting to implement remote proofing in the P-O-P print environment, and the screen/digital print providers that service the brewer came armed to investigate the options at the SGIA Expo.


They will come

If there is a void in service, the others will come. And the invading others bring their culture with them as they descend on our turf. What will happen as a result of this invasion? We will see more local competition from non-traditional sources. This also results in increased exposure for the large-format color market—more feet on the street to push the awareness of what may be possible with digital printing. We will also see the technology bar rising in the RIP and production-software fields, as the multitude of providers begin viewing large-format digital as having a viable critical mass. Higher standards and the use of sophisticated color management will come right behind. So, let us not resist or complain, but accept what comes with the evolution of an industry.


Rick Mandel is the owner and president of the Mandel Company in Milwaukee, WI. He also serves as CEO of the company’s Screentech Division, a 115-year-old graphics firm that specializes in large-format color separations for commercial printing companies, as well as digital production of large-format graphics. Mandel is a member of the SGIA and the Association of Screen Printing Sciences. He holds a bachelor-of-science degree from the University of Wisconsin.



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