Wide-format BIG at Fred Meyer In-plantMay 1, 2012 By Bob Neubauer
Wide format printing has become a big money-maker for Fred Meyer Stores Corporate Print Services, in Portland, Ore. It’s not only allowing the 19-employee in-plant to produce a wider array of signage for the retail supermarket chain, but it has opened doors to business with divisions of the company that did not previously use the in-plant.
Business is booming so much that the shop recently added three 61˝ HP Designjet L26500 latex printers. According to Manager John Payne, the new generation of latex ink used by the printers is noticeably better.
“Colors are more vivid, and the black is richer,” notes Payne. “The new formulation allows more ink to hit the substrate so less is airborne. In addition it bonds at lower heat settings allowing us to print on a broader range of materials.”
Those materials include adhesive-backed vinyl, fabrics, paper, perforated window film and polypropylene plastics. The in-plant is taking full advantage of these capabilities. It recently did a job for one store using perforated window film.
“From the inside it looks just like a window tint, but from the outside of the store, you see the image,” Payne says. “It’s opened up a whole new horizon.”
It’s also opened the in-plant’s doors to some new customers. When the product development group at The Kroger Co., which owns Fred Meyer, was getting ready to advertise a new line of furniture, it was delighted to find that the in-plant could do the work for much less than other bidders. The in-plant printed nearly 1,000 two-sided signs for the customer.
“We saved the company almost 40 percent compared to the outside vendor they were going to use,” remarks Payne. “We did not have one damaged sign in any store.”
Four years ago, the shop was producing signs on a four-color, 38˝ Harris sheetfed press. To open up more opportunities, the in-plant initially added a solvent-based wide-format inkjet printer, but employee complaints about the solvent smell prompted the shop to seek another solution. So it installed several HP Z6100 aqueous printers.