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In Wide Demand

September 2000
Having a wide-format color ink-jet printer in-house can provide a valuable service to your customers.

To be successful—and stay alive—you must provide your customers with better service than commercial printers. That means giving the customers what they want, when they want it.

For Tino Castro, this meant purchasing a 12-color 52˝ ColorSpan Displaymaker 12 wide-format color ink-jet printer last year.

"For the past two to three years I've seen [demand] increase," says the printing services manager for the County of Riverside, Calif.

In the past, customers would come into his 20-employee shop with work orders for posters or banners and Castro would have to outsource those jobs. With the new machine, the in-plant now provides better service at a lower cost.

Riverside is a large county, with more than 1 million residents. Printing services has customers ranging from the Department of Social Services to the Sheriff's Department. Castro says at any one time the in-plant can be working on 90 to 100 jobs.

According to Castro, wide-format work can vary from 10 images one month to over 200 the next. Overall, he has noticed an increase in demand. He says that if it continues at its current rate, he plans to either upgrade, or buy a second machine.

Castro believes that advances in technology have caused the rise in demand. It's easier and cheaper to get wide-format work now, so naturally more people want it.

"Technology has improved to the point where anyone who wants wide-format printing can install it in their shop," he observes.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the machine will become a cash cow. Castro notes that although he is told wide-format color ink-jet printers rarely break down, there is one drawback—they're expensive to supply.

"They require 12 ink cartridges in the machine and you're looking at $250 to $350 per cartridge," he reports. For Castro, that averages out to roughly $3,600 every four months. And there's another issue:

"Different media require different inks," he says. Changeover from paper posters to vinyl banners requires replacing all 12 cartridges.

Still, Castro believes the machine is well worth the price.

"I think it was a good acquisition for my department," he comments. "It pays for itself because of the service it provides our customers."

The Power Of Atlas

The AgfaJet Atlas, from Agfa, is a sheetfed, drum-type, wide-format ink-jet printer designed for printing posters and displays up to 40x49˝ and for printing prepress proofs. It offers two output modes. In "Superfast Mode," the system prints pictures, text and line graphics at an output rate of approximately five minutes per page and with a resolution of 300 dpi. In "Wide-Gamut/High Quality Mode," it prints images with a resolution of 1,200 dpi.


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