When ColorDynamics decided to add wide-format printing to its repertoire last year, the Allen, Texas-based commercial printing company acquired Superior Graphics, an established signage and graphics provider in Dallas.
ColorDynamics also hired John Ehrenberger – a veteran wide-format graphics executive and the son of Superior’s founder – as an executive vice president. Looking to further accelerate ColorDynamics’ move into signage and graphics, Ehrenberger hit the industry trade shows to evaluate new equipment and purchased an EFI VUTEk 3r LED roll-to-roll printer from Electronics For Imaging, Inc.
ColorDynamics had been researching superwide-format printers for several years, but company executives were wary of what they often saw in the evaluation process: printer manufacturers produce excellent results with their own demo files, but it did not always mean that the printer in question can produce consistent, reliable results day after day.
"We needed a workhorse, not a show horse," as Ehrenberger put it.
He first examined the VUTEk roll-to-roll LED printer line this year while attending at EFI Connect users' conference. Then, at this year's ISA International Sign Expo, Ehrenberger and ColorDynamics President Matt Coltharp put the VUTEk 3r model through its paces in a demo using actual client files. The duo found the 138-inch wide device to be the workhorse ColorDynamics needed, and purchased it at the show.
EFI LED: A speed advantage over latex
Speed is the number one advantage for ColorDynamics, a company that is witnessing significant growth, but had been facing capacity constraints with its latex superwide-format printers. The latex printers, according to Ehrenberger, do a great job, but are not fast enough, "so you end up having to add shifts or additional printers to get a given volume of work out the door."
With the new VUTEk printer capable of printing up 4,090 square feet per hour, ColorDynamics discovered it could complete some of its work in less than half the time. Second to the speed advantage is the printer’s smart, automated systems for double-sided printing, which delivers highly precise front-to-back registration.
Faster printing creates a need for faster finishing
Beyond the speed and double-sided printing advantages, ColorDynamics' new printer provides the extensive inline finishing needed to get jobs done faster than ever before.
Even when inkjet printers themselves are sufficiently speedy, "the choke point is you've got to get jobs to some kind of finishing device to cut the prints," Ehrenberger explained. "So, you either have to have a big roll cutter, which we have, or a big cutting table, and we have two of those. But we're already running three shifts on those, so if we’re buying a machine with much faster output, that’s just adding more issues to the choke point over at the cutting side."
The VUTEk 3r printer's inline finishing system for all-in-one printing, slitting, and collecting – a feature Ehrenberger said he did not see offered on any comparable roll-to-roll printers at the Sign Expo – really solves the problem, giving ColorDynamics faster total throughput and not just faster inkjet printing.
ColorDynamics will not only grow capacity with its printer, it is pursuing work it used to turn away because of turnaround time concerns. "We work with very large retailers that have maybe 300-400 locations, so if you do two posters per location, that’s an 800-poster print run," said Ehrenberger. "We are able to say yes to more of those jobs knowing we’ll be able to make the deadline for the job."