Imagine, if you will, a new wide-format printer. One that is designed not just by a team of electro-mechanical engineers, but with additional input from a collective of experienced printer operators – the hard-working people who fully understand all of those little idiosyncrasies of print production, that are experienced at keeping a printer running in tip-top condition and at its most productive, every day of the working week.
They'd design that printer better, right? You, Dear Printer Operator, you could design a printer better, right? Or at least you'd design out a lot of those little annoyances that drive you nuts – like not being able to specify a print origin with the covers open, or a cleaning cycle starting up just as you are about to press print, or that delay while the platen gets up to temperature from standby because the vacuum fans are cooling things down at exactly the time you are waiting for them to heat up!
Because the simple truth is this: experienced printer operators probably know their machine better than the people that built it. And they definitely, categorically and unarguably understand the practicalities and anomalies of day to day print production better.
This weight of evidence leaves very little doubt in my mind that an operator could actually do a great job of specifying useful new features and functions, like making cleaning cycles efficient enough so the printer cleans itself weekly rather than daily. No, wait – make that once every two weeks, because cleaning wastes ink. In fact, waste less ink on each individual cleaning cycle too. And while we're on the subject of ink, allow the printer to use less per square metre and make sure the cartridges are actually empty when they say they are empty, because that's my ink and I want to use as much of it as I can!
Higher up the priority list, and perhaps the biggest bugbear of all for many sign and display print professionals, has been the necessary waiting time prior to finishing – all printers suffer from it to some degree; solvents have a delay for outgassing, while UV and even latex printers need some additional post-print time for curing to complete prior to laminating or finishing. So how about cutting that wait time down, so you can print, later laminate if required, and ship or install graphics within the same working day? That alone would help users to realise a significant boost in workflow productivity, overall production speed and thus customer satisfaction.
So, imagine if you will once more, that a printer manufacturer had both the humility and the good sense to actively poll their customers to build a product wish-list based on their real-world production experience – including all of those mentioned above – and then built a new printer incorporating as many of those features and functions as they could. That'd be pretty cool, right? You'd probably end up with a printer that had – oh, I don't know – let's say 40 to 60 updates ranging from minor enhancements to major upgrades! But it'll never happen. So forget it.
Except it did happen, it has happened, and a printer that was in effect created through such feedback and a desire to meet specific customer demands now exists, here, today.
Step forward and take the plaudits, Roland DG.
With over 20 years of inkjet printer manufacturing experience under their belt, and a well-earned reputation for being at the very top of the tree when it comes to making those printers easy to use and reliable, Roland DG still had enough sense to involve their operators in the development process. In hindsight, why wouldn't you – the vast number of Roland DG inkjet printer users around the world is a huge pool of print production expertise to draw from.
The new TrueVIS VG2 has just been launched and is being promoted by Roland DG as offering 40 new enhancements, many of them as a direct result of input from users experienced in using a variety of wide-format print systems. However, Roland DG are being modest; there are actually 60 – I've seen the spreadsheet from the product department. In fairness not all are big enough differences to shout about, so 40 is a more than fair claim. Most importantly, a sizeable proportion of those enhancements are a direct result of operator feedback.
From a QR code on the side of the printer that when scanned will download the operator manual, to an accessory box on the top of the system for storing knives, slitters, tweezers – and maybe even a light snack – close at hand, it's just a printer that's been thoroughly thought out and well implemented.
As well as multiple minor tweaks that make ownership and daily operation a little more productive, there is of course some significant new functionality: the aforementioned reduction in wait time, a new orange ink, good for 3 years outdoors, that increases the breadth of colour gamut to add real impact and high visibility to your graphics, ink chemistry improved to increase scuff resistance by some 30%, and outdoor durable print performance that is guaranteed under both the 3M MCS Warranty and the Avery ICS Warranty.
The TrueVIS VG2 series is the next generation in integrated print and cut from Roland DG, and it seems to me it's a printer worthy of closer inspection. Just make sure you bring your printer operator with you to the demonstration, because those are the guys that know a thing or two about what it takes to make a wide-format printer great.