From Sign Update – January 2019


No one likes to turn away work if they can possibly avoid it. Particularly when the request comes from existing customers. Posters, banners, cut vinyl, wall-coverings, vehicle wraps, window graphics; these are all the sorts of applications that can be added to a sign-maker’s portfolio with a relatively manageable investment, now more so than ever.

If you are a sign-maker that has so far resisted the move into large format digital print, it may well be time to take a deep breath and jump in. The main manufacturers of these printers really know what they are doing now and many have compressed all that leading-edge technology into solid, reliable, high quality and easy to use machines that don’t take up huge amounts of space. More to the point, the cost relative to what these printers can do has come down to the extent that return on investment can be fairly fast, particularly as the order book fills up.

This feature takes a look at some of the market-leading printers and integrated printing and cutting machines that you could consider taking on. There are of course further requirements, such as a laminator, other finishing equipment, software and so on, but these machines are designed to provide all you need to get going straight away.

Bear in mind, whichever machine you select, you will need to work with companies that can provide support and maintenance, media and ink. This could of course be the same company that you bought the printer from and that could well be worth considering. This will be a company that you will be sharing the journey with and you should feel they are a company you can trust to help and support you properly. Check out some reviews, ask to speak to other customers similar to you that have made the investment and see how they have got on.

Success in business is largely to do with maximising the amount of work you can do for your best customers. Increasing your capabilities through additional equipment will allow you to build better and more lasting relationships. Before making the investment, perhaps talk to your top customers about your intentions and discuss with them what sort of work they could put your way. If it’s banners and posters, consider a more powerful, wider machine. If it is lots of cut vinyl lettering and decals, then maybe it is worth adding a cutter or even an integrated print and cut machine. It is always worth giving yourself a headstart if you can.

If you are thinking of taking the plunge, we hope this insight into some of the more popular machines is helpful. There is a whole range of technology options, but as a new user you want something as versatile and easy to use as possible that will deliver the quality that customers will love. Good luck!

Mutoh ValueJet 1324X (54”)

Mutoh ValueJet 1324X wide format printer
Mutoh has a well-established reputation for great value printers

Mutoh has designed its ValueJet 1324X specifically for sign-makers taking their first steps into wide format printing. It features piezo inkjet head technology, is solidly built and includes latest generation electronics.

Melanie Enser, Product Marketing Manager for Colourgen explains, “Mutoh’s core philosophy is to deliver products that provide the speed, reliability, efficiency and value for money that a sign-maker making its first investment in wide format expects.

The ValueJet 1324X is an ideal choice for a sign maker looking to invest for the first time in wide format because it delivers great print quality, can handle a broad range of applications and is very easy to use and look after.”

Simplicity is the hallmark of this printer. Mutoh says it is easy to install, operate and maintain and will allow both experienced as well as new sign-makers to simply get on and print. Being able to say yes to as many potential projects as possible is key to making money when entering into a new area and the Mutoh can deliver short print runs as well as volume production runs at decent speeds up to 16.4 m²/h. It is a solid and reliable workhorse for all high-quality indoor and outdoor graphics.

Enser adds, “Mutoh has been in this market for a long time and it knows what many companies are looking for from its printers. For sign-makers the ValueJet 1324X has the speed and quality to address the sign-makers’ key requirement of volume production of outdoor prints. It is ideal for producing long-term outdoor posters, signs and banners, backlit signage, POS displays, vehicle graphics as well as high quality durable prints for indoor use.”

Mutoh also says the 1324X offers a rapid return on investment, which is another key requirement for sign-makers entering this market. The printer offers a strong combination of value and ease of use with consistent high quality output with hardly any periodic maintenance required. It allows the user to switch quickly between different types of print jobs, which means it can be running and earning for more time. A low ink consumption (average 8 ml/m² on uncoated PVC) will also reduce the average cost per print, allowing the sign-maker to be more competitive and increase potential margins.

The Mutoh ValueJet 1604X
The Mutoh ValueJet 1604X offers greater width and performance

Mutoh ValueJet 1604X (64”)

Sign-makers looking for a slightly larger printer that can offer more in terms of productivity and speed also have the option of the Mutoh ValueJet 1604X. This machine offers the extra versatility sign-makers need to ensure their investment will be a profitable and successful one. It is ideally suited for the production of long term outdoor and indoor print on a wide range of uncoated and coated substrates: posters, backlit signage, wall coverings, POS displays, fine art reproduction, vehicle graphics, stickers and more.


Roland SG 540 printer
The Roland TrueVIS SG range of integrated printer/cutters

According to Roland DG, it’s a really exciting time for sign-makers moving into the wide-format print market. Technology is constantly evolving, and at present businesses can take advantage of printing systems that are technologically advanced yet easy to use, highly productive yet extremely versatile, and very affordable – making digital wide-format printing potentially more profitable than it’s ever been before.

Rob Goleniowski, Head of Sales – UK & Ireland – Roland DG (UK) Ltd, says, “The Roland TrueVIS SG inkjet range is great technology for print businesses at all levels, including sign-makers looking to increase their productivity, turnaround speed and quality, or to diversify into new markets and applications. The entry-level TrueVIS SG series is available in two models at affordable price points – the 54″ (1371mm) wide TrueVIS SG-540 and the more compact 30″ (762mm) TrueVIS SG-300 – both offering super-sharp image output in vibrant colours, quickly and easily. The technology communicates with users’ existing phones and tablets to make operating simple – even remotely, a real bonus for small business-owners who can’t be in two places at once!”

Goleniowski adds that TrueVIS also has a secret weapon in the form of an integrated cutting system. “The Roland TrueVIS SG-540 and TrueVIS SG-300 are both combination printer/cutters, meaning users can print, crease and contour-cut on one system, at a similar price point to a standalone wide-format printer. This represents a fantastic double investment for any company moving into wide-format print. For sign-makers, it accelerates the production of signs, posters, banners and displays, and puts other applications such as vehicle wraps, decals, labels and apparel transfers within immediate reach too. The Roland TrueVIS SG duo has been designed to give users everything they need to grow their business, quickly and affordably.”

Typical window graphics with a reflective vinyl
Roland says integrated printer/cutter machines offer greatest versatility

However, it’s really important for print service providers to consider their future plans as well as their present needs. Investing in a larger, more advanced printer from the beginning could make financial sense long term, by offering more capabilities and enabling a business to grow faster. Rob says, “The next level from TrueVIS SG is the Roland TrueVIS VG series – printer/cutter systems with all the fantastic features of SG, and more. There is a choice of ink configurations on the TrueVIS VG-640 and VG-540: dual CMYK for maximum productivity, or CMYK plus Light Cyan, Light Magenta and Light Black for fine details and smooth gradations, or users can add White ink too, for outstanding printing on dark or clear substrates. This opens up a world of new materials for sign-makers to work with. We say that with the TrueVIS VG-640 and VG-540, the future of print and cut has arrived – and PSPs should always be looking to the future.”

In conclusion, Rob Goleniowski says, “With any technology investment, but especially for businesses new to the market, it’s essential to look at the entire package to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on. In terms of a wide-format printer, this ranges from the ink to the RIP software, from the aftercare service to the training provided. At Roland we deliver all of these exceptionally – and we have an incredible community of Roland users that support each other, both new arrivals to the industry and old hands.”


Mimaki is another manufacturer with a long and impressive pedigree in the large format market that offers entry level products that incorporate all the very best of their technology. Brett Newman is the Chief Operations Manager for Hybrid Services, the Exclusive UK and Ireland distributor for Mimaki and he says, “Research and development is something Mimaki invests a huge amount in and entry-level wide format is an area that benefits from the cascade of technology Mimaki manufactures. Mimaki has built in a raft of Core Technologies that focus on helping customers to deliver premium image quality with the minimum of fuss. Years of experience developing cutting edge print solutions has enabled the technology to trickle down so that even its ‘entry level’ products benefit from features such as Mimaki Advanced Pass System (MAPS) and Waveform Control Technology (WCT) that help deliver these spectacular results.”

MAPS and WCT are just two of the Core Technologies that, together with the likes of Variable Dot Printing, determine how ink is placed on the substrate and maximise the control over dot placement, shape and size to create smooth, vibrant and high-density print. Mimaki’s use of high precision piezo-electric print heads assures users of consistent and reliable output and the addition of the Core Technologies exploits it to its maximum. With a seamless workflow from design creation, through RIP, printing and cutting, the Core Technologies work away in the background to assist the user in producing the highest quality output.

Brett Newman adds, “With all printers offering a range of operator-led settings for print quality, output speed and imaging, Mimaki’s Core Technologies provide the opportunity for print operators to assess a job and choose specific options to suit its precise requirements. Mimaki’s unique appreciation of print companies’ day-to-day requirements has resulted in innovative and practical inbuilt technology that make the difference.”

The Mimaki JV150 Series

The JV150 Series printer from Mimaki provides high performance, creativity and versatility with vibrant ink types, including new Orange and Light Black, in a cost effective package that is ideal for sign-makers making a first step into large format digital printing.

The use of orange ink enables a much wider colour gamut, giving punchy and vivid colours for posters and PoS materials, especially in the food retail market where rich, warm red and orange tones are often used. Orange ink also ensures faithful colour representation and, when used as a process colour, can match 94.8% of the PANTONE colour chart with approximate colours, making it ideal for creating impact with corporate branding, along with improved spot colour reproduction.

Light black, light cyan and light magenta inherently produce smoother gradients and are great for pastel colours, but orange is all about delivering vibrant colours to make your work stand out.

More recently, Mimaki has announced that the JV150 now also offers a silver ink option in order to add further value to your printed output. Although a fairly niche area, the demand for metallic decals and vehicle graphics is very much there and the eye catching effects of shiny silver display graphics is growing in popularity.

Silver ink is all about adding a bit of dazzle and bling to your offering.

Customers often perceive a metallic finish to be a premium product and providing decals or bespoke packaging that use a spot silver can really help you differentiate your product and add to your profit margins as you go. You could potentially charge up to 30% more for metallic applications, which is worth considering.

Mimaki CJV150 Series

The integrated print and cut solution that is the CJV150 range adds a further range of applications that adds value to your first investment in wide format printing. For a relatively affordable premium, and particularly if space is at a premium, you can enjoy all the benefits of the JV150 with a built in cutting solution that opens up a world of possibility.

The most likely applications will be in stickers, decals and labels, which offer a huge potential for your business when it comes to shaped, printed, self-adhesive vinyl.

Stickers are a huge market, be it personalised ones or licensed designs, funky wallart or transfers for bikes, skateboards and schoolbags. The market for attaching small decorative or informational decoration to other objects is vast – just take a look around you. There’s safety signage, legislative labels and designer decals everywhere and with a wide format printer/cutter, you can be supplying it. There are plenty of potential customers out there who have a real need for maybe just 50 or 100 decals for a particular project.

Maybe you have got the capability to litho print labels already, but are you turning away good business because you can’t take orders for shorter run lengths? You can personalise one label as easily as you can 10, 100 or even 1,000 so there’s nothing stopping you responding to the short to medium orders of custom print jobs and making good money too. The range of printable, adhesive materials is ever expanding and stickers can now be repositionable, reusable or designed to last for years – the choice is yours. Mimaki’s unique die cut capability means you can offer your customer a pack of stickers with a shaped backing that’s of huge value – and so much easier and more professional than trying to hand cut or guillotine them.

Mimaki UCJV150, an integrated printer/cutter with UV ink.
The unique Mimaki UCJV150 provides UV ink in an integrated printer/cutter

Stickers and labels are great revenue creators, they’re simple to produce and offer an excellent opportunity to talk to a very wide audience with what’s fundamentally the same product. Your printer/cutter is the ideal tool for the job, there are lots of great substrates to choose from and the software makes it a relatively automated process.

Mimaki UCJV 150

One other product from Mimaki is definitely worth a look at if you are thinking of taking the plunge. The new Mimaki UCJV Series is a new and innovative range of LED UV printer/cutters with unique creative features, low running costs, the ability to print to a wide range of materials and a highly efficient workflow. While this printer represents a larger investment, the potential returns make it well worth greater consideration.

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