The ultimate way to add value to any event

August 15, 2017

As I travel through cities and back roads I often see facilities designed to accommodate seasonal and special gatherings. Churches, fair ground, lodges, parks, concert halls, schools and convention centers, all available for private business or personal special occasion rentals. It occurs to me that a lot of these venues stand vacant much of the time. It must be important for the property managers to solicit enough revenue when they host an event to help make it through the down time — but how do they do that and stay competitive?

Every event needs some preparation. Sometimes that means signs posted a few weeks prior to alert possible attendees to the dates, sometimes it’s themed decorations, backdrops for photo ops, banners with advertising spots for sponsors… any number of things, all of which can capture more revenue to help better support your facility.

Through the many different types of events I’ve attended over the years, it’s been my experience that there’s just about always a need for extra signage at showtime. I’ve also notice that most of the time, when that need arises, event participants are either forced to leave in search of a local sign shop that can get something made for them impossibly quickly — or just go without.

So when it comes to holding an event, offering services like custom sign, banner and poster printing can not only be a great way to add value and capture more revenue, it can be a life saver to the people attending.

To someone not in the printing industry, using the equipment necessary to make banners and other larger signs may sound complicated — but if you can print to a desktop inkjet printer, you can print large format images with the same level of skill.

Canon wide format printers come with all the software necessary to easily create these products, and you don’t have to have a super-computer to run them. With that software comes an accounting program that will calculate to the tenth of a penny the exact cost of every print, including the cost of the media you used, so that you can accurately track the costs and gauge the profits earned.

But how expensive are these wide format printers? Probably not as much as you would expect. There are several models to choose from, at different price points and sizes. If you’re printing four or more banners a month, that right there covers the cost of the equipment. Everything after that is 100% profit. This can be verified by viewing your cost on the accounting software and comparing that to publicly advertised pricing for the same product from a print shop.

Send an email to us at contact@doradographix.com or give us a call at 904-751-4500 and we’ll be happy to do an analysis for you to show you where your break even point is, along with print your file and provide you with the cost report.

Today’s world demands instant satisfaction, and the more on-site value added services your organization can provide for an event, the better chance you have of capturing more events in the future and earning higher profits from them. Wide format printing is a simple and affordable investment that can bring in thousands of dollars for your organization.

Bart Jordan
President of Dorado Graphix, LLC

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What Can You Do with a Hammer?

June 6, 2017

Ever wonder what you can do with a hammer? Almost everyone owns one, but what do you do with it? It’s probably safe to say most hammer owners keep one around for light duty tasks, like hanging a picture or tapping a tight fitted widget into conformation. But what if you had more complex tasks, like building a house or forming sheet metal for a car? Would you know if you had the right hammer for the job?

Sure, you could probably make just about any hammer work, but what would the final product look like, and how much extra time will you spend completing the task using a tool that didn’t have features designed for the application?

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Hammers have come a long way!

Think about the history of the hammer: early designs were no more than a stone tied to a stick. Even those crude designs might work to hang your picture, although you would probably run a higher risk of smashing your finger. But could you imagine framing a house with one?

Today, there are hammers designed specifically for just about any project. Length, weight, balance, shape and even the material the hammer is made from all play a part in the final design to make on the best choice for its intended purpose.

Like the hammer, wide format printers are also created with a specific job in mind. There are multiple brands, models and technologies to choose from, with varying price points and operational skill sets. And, much like a common hammer, all are capable of doing the basics — in this case, printing.

So how do you decide which is best for your individual needs? You could spend the time it would take, reading and researching the pros and cons of every brand and model until you’ve earned the equivalent of a college degree in wide format technology. Alternatively, and possibly with the same level of effectiveness, you could stand back, close your eyes and throw a dart. Neither of these seem like very good options.

The best strategy, then, is to partner with a knowledgeable vendor who will take the time to listen to your objectives first and make suggestions based on your requirements. But how do you find a “good” vendor?

A good rule of thumb when assessing a vendor is to look at the amount of time they take to listen to your needs before they go full throttle into selling mode. Then, balance their recommendations against your own knowledge and ask as many questions as it takes to fill in the gaps. The old adage, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question” applies here — a legitimately good vendor will make every effort to answer any and all of your questions.

Another helpful barometer for evaluation is the level of commitment the vendor is willing to make to accommodate you even after the sale. Ask for details about the training you’ll receive during the install and the assistance your vendor offers beyond that. How deep is their support bench? There’s a lot of great equipment out there, most of which requires technical attention from time to time — all of which is useless when sitting idle, waiting for parts and service.

In general, the number one marker of a good vendor is their eagerness to see you do well. A wise vendor knows that the success of their client is also a success for themselves. Your vendor should be able to help you choose a machine that will deliver results that meet your expectations at a price point that makes sense for you and will earn you the highest possible return on investment. Nobody wins if you end up stuck with a machine that costs you more money than you can bring in by using it.

mjolnir
Mjölnir, the mightiest hammer…and probably not what you’d use to hang a picture.

So, back to the hammer metaphor: if you’re not a master carpenter you may not need a master carpenter’s hammer, but that doesn’t mean you should just use a rock. When making a purchase you want to be sure your investment is worth it, and a consultation with the right vendor can help you hit the nail on the head.

 


What you need to know about Aqueous Outdoor Durablity

April 5, 2017

Outdoor Durable isn’t just for Solvent, UV and Latex printers anymore

Wide format printing is constantly evolving.

Once upon a time, one-off wide format printing was relegated to the architectural and engineering fields where ammonia-based printers dominated the blueprint reproduction markets, and to the sign industry with screen printing and painting.

Then came the plotter, capable of holding pens and cutting blades which could draw clear images, sometimes with the use of several colored pens to add better detail to elevation prints and electrical diagrams. Its ability to accurately cut images and lettering made the plotter an instant hit in the sign world, and to this day it’s extremely popular for vinyl lettering and print cut decals.

The next era introduced a print head mounted on a moving carriage — first with hundreds, then thousands of nozzles — each mechanical improvement resulting in better image quality than the last.

But the equipment isn’t the only part of printing that’s evolved.

As the machines improve, so does the ink those machines use. Early inks were dye water-based and very susceptible to fading when exposed to UV light. This technology was consigned to short-term, indoor applications. Later, pigment aqueous inks were introduced that dramatically increased color fastness from months to decades.

Solvent inks overcame the outdoor durability challenge by using chemical-based solutions to deliver pigments while etching the media surface, substantially improving ink bonding. At first, these inks required the use of agents that were not exactly healthy for human exposure, but today industry improvements have lowered the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) to more tolerable levels.

UV technology allows inks to dry instantly on just about any surface without heat. These inks aren’t very human-friendly either, but new delivery methods have introduced precautions to reduce user exposure.

Then there’s latex ink technology, a spin on aqueous and solvent technology that touts a more environmentally friendly solution with significantly lower VOCs than solvent while maintaining its outdoor durability.

So what works best for outdoor durable printing today?

These days, there are a few accepted generalizations when talking about these technologies:

  • Ammonia printers have gone the way of the buckboard.
  • Solvent ink printers currently dominate the market for vehicle wraps and most outdoor signage.
  • Plotters are used primarily for lettering and contour panel cutting in the sign, vehicle wrap and decal worlds.
  • UV is the chosen format for printing directly onto rigid materials.
  • Latex has proven to be a popular hybrid solution for those looking to penetrate various lower-volume markets (although there are high production models available at higher prices).
  • Aqueous is the king of high resolution with the largest color gamut and the technology of choice for the art giclée and photo reproduction markets. Aqueous also represents the lowest cost of ownership due to the reduced entry cost of the equipment and simplicity of operation. Plus, maintenance and operation do not require employees with specialized skill sets.

But did you know that pigment aqueous printers can now be used effectively to produce outdoor applications, sometimes durable up to 18 months without lamination — even longer with lamination? The key to achieving this lies in the specific ink technology, the quality of the media coating and the use of a good media profile.

Pigment aqueous inks are designed to be archival, meaning they won’t fade for years — Canon guarantees 75 years of color durability. So, if it’s true that the color won’t fade for 75 years even when exposed to UV light, why does it fade within 18 months outdoors?

The answer is this: They don’t fade, they ablate. Aqueous, unlike other ink technologies, requires an ink-receptive coated media to capture and hold the pigment. It’s the quality of this coating that dictates the durability.

As these medias are exposed to the great outdoors, wind, rain sand and sun wear down the coating until the pigment particles beneath the surface are exposed and are eventually blown away. It looks like the image is fading, when in reality, the media itself is thinning and the pigments are being ablated.

By using a proper profile that allows pigment particles to drop as deeply as possible into the coating pores, coupled with a media that has a good quality coating to start with, outdoor durability is immensely improved. Basically, the longer the coating lasts, the longer the print lasts. 18 months is very achievable on a good media.

The future of aqueous technology

As reliable as aqueous printing is, it’s not likely to overtake other ink technologies as the dominant choice for flexible outdoor signage any time soon. The cost per square foot on aqueous media is usually twice that of uncoated medias.

That being said, it doesn’t mean aqueous technology can’t be a player in the outdoor market. Most flexible outdoor signage campaigns expire within six months — well within the useful life of an aqueous based product. Plus, all Canon iPF and iPF PRO series printers come with a Media Configuration Tool which gives users the ability create profiles that will maximize the outdoor durability of any media.

Pigment aqueous technology is an excellent consideration when your market base deals in indoor art, photo or sign production, or has a moderate demand for outdoor durable prints. There are endless possibilities when it comes to aqueous printing.

Questions about your outdoor signage project, aqueous ink and media, or just printing in general? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below, or contact us directly and we’ll be happy to help!


The Pros & Cons of Integrated Printer/Plotters

February 13, 2017

When it comes to print production, streamlining is key. Whether it’s simply finding a smaller machine or combining the tasks of two machines into one, saving space, time and money are always top priorities. But at what point does “streamlining” turn the corner and start negatively affecting productivity?

Production speed and flexibility

Ordinarily the idea of having one machine that can perform multiple tasks seems more efficient than spending the money and floorspace on two separate machines — but at the same time, you’re often putting one task on hold while you wait for the other to be completed. If you find yourself up against production deadlines that require a mix of both print and cut, your all-in-one unit will only tackle the workload in bites.

Decentralizing the tasks by having two separate machines, you have options that allow you to print and cut simultaneously, freeing you up to prioritize your jobs based on urgency — sometimes on the fly — without bringing all the other jobs to a complete halt.

Quality of the finished product

Most hybrid print/cut devices also tend to be slower, with fewer control options than their independent counterparts. These machines usually rely on a single dual-purposed control carriage that operates the print head for one task and the plotter head for another.

The print motion is a smooth back and forth swath responsible for landing a 12 to 20 pico-liter drop on target during each pass. Vibration, speed variation and consistent head alignment are some of the factors that engineers address constantly as they try to improve print performance.

The plotter needs to change directions very quickly to accurately follow the intended design paths. This requires that same carriage to move in very abrupt motions that put pressure on both the carriage belt and the carriage itself. Engineers must balance these factors and develop compromises that would least adversely affect the other’s operation.

The result is usually a slower and less capable production unit — sometimes with less than desirable quality output. As is true in most cases, it’s better to be great at one thing than just average at many.

Eggs in a basket

If there’s one thing every production floor dreads, it’s your machine going down. Oftentimes if one machine malfunctions, there are still other tasks to be done on other machines. But when one machine is responsible for multiple tasks, a malfunction can bring your production flow to a screeching halt. Usually when one component has an error, both components go offline and you’re stuck in the mud until it can be serviced.

So while it may be true that a multi-function machine saves money up front, there’s also a lot at stake in terms of keeping your work flow as uninterrupted as possible. Be sure to do your research when you’re in the market for an all-in-one — read reviews and have a backup plan if something fails. Consider the life span of that machine versus the expectancies of separate units. And, as always, if you have any other questions that we didn’t address here, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help however we can!

 


Top 3 Reasons OEM Inks Are Always Better Than Third Party

January 9, 2017

It’s human nature to try and find the best possible deal when shopping around for anything, especially when we as shoppers know that we’re going to be spending a fair amount of money either way. Oftentimes we find that, to an extent, we don’t mind sacrificing quality if it saves us that extra dollar. So it’s easy to be tempted by the savings when comparing original equipment manufacturer inks to third party inks — but what’s the real difference? Consider the following as you make decisions about purchasing third party inks for your aqueous wide format printer:


1. Ink Composition and Delivery

When you compare the features of all brands of aqueous printers, ask yourself how the technology of one printer differs from the next. Sure, each printer may load a little differently. Each has different menu layouts and button positions. Mechanically speaking, they all do basically the same thing — feed and print media. So where is the bulk of the wide format technological race being run?

The answer is the delivery mechanism and the ink. These two components are symbiotic. The main component of the delivery system is the print head, and within this segment are two main competing technologies: thermal and piezo. The primary goal of the print delivery system is to apply the ink as fast and accurately as possible, while the primary goal of the ink is to dry as a durable coat of color as correctly and consistently as possible.

But there’s another, less well known component that is often overlooked when considering inks. As engineers push their technologies to new limits, they must overcome physical barriers such as heat and abrasion. Pushing a liquid with microscopic solids through an orifice about the circumference of a human hair without clogging or burning up the nozzle is a challenge.

To do this, engineers must address the elements that make up the ink. The ingredients they choose are based on laboratory testing and consistent baseline components. All OEM manufacturers have patents and licenses to protect their R&D investments. Third party manufacturers are left to do the best they can to copy the ingredients that go into their products. When you don’t have to meet the engineering standards, of course the cost is going to be less — at least at the cash register.

2. Manufacturer Warranty

Once the engineers achieve the best possible recipe, the inks are permanently coupled with the delivery system and the print models are sent to market. This allows the manufacturer to apply warranties based on what they know will be expected performance of their products.

Yes, some third party ink manufacturers offer warranties, but make sure to read the fine print. Inferior ink composition will almost always guarantee inferior performance, whether it shows in the quality of the color, the life of the print head, or somewhere unexpected.

3. Keeping Your Prints Consistent and Extending the Life of Your Machine

Buying base components from multiple suppliers and inconsistent manufacturing practices reduce the chance of batch consistency, resulting in product performance issues. Even when the color looks good most of the time, the toll all of these mix and match pieces take on the machine can be pretty serious — from print heads dying prematurely to an overheated print head burning out the entire controller board.

Ask yourself: is the money I save now worth the hassle of making a case of who’s at fault when my equipment is down? Is it worth the money it would cost to replace entire parts of your machine? Looking back, will you be confident that you got the most from your printer before it had to be replaced?


Nothing’s perfect, including OEM inks, but we believe our customers are better served when they know what to expect and who is responsible. OEM ink-related service issues are nearly unheard of, but premature equipment failures due to the use of sub-standard third party supplies are unfortunately quite common. We recommend doing your own research, reading reviews and comparing specifications before making the decision to purchase third party inks.

What have your experiences been with OEM versus third party ink? Do you have any advice or extra info that we forgot to mention here? Leave us a comment and let us know!


Dorado Graphix Grand Opening!

December 2, 2016

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My name is Bart Jordan, president of Dorado Graphix LLC. Having been in the printing and wide format industry for over 30 years, I’m excited to finally announce the launch of our website! If I may, let me explain what we do.

Dorado Graphix LLC is an equipment and supply sales company with a twist. We specialize in wide format printers, laminators, plotter cutters and scanners. Specifically, Canon, Royal Sovereign, Graphtec and Contex – all of which we are factory authorized to locally service and support.

So what’s the twist? It starts with The Artful Underground, our marketing and R&D arm. Here we produce a catalog of finished products using the equipment models we sell. This allows us to test production techniques and gain market knowledge that we pass along directly to you as we train you on how to use your new equipment.photo

And training is what we’re all about. Depending on the complexity of the machine you’ve purchased, we provide programs that include multiple visits on your schedule, so you can be sure your launch will be successful. After that, we’ll continue to re-enforce that training with updates, phone support, blogs and seminars so you’ll have a resource to get the answers you need when you need them.

We know that every project (and every budget) doesn’t necessarily allow for, or require, a brand new machine. That’s why we also carry a line of refurbished equipment and offer rental programs for projects with a time limit. Or, if you already have a machine lying around that needs an upgrade, we also accept trade-ins towards newer equipment.

It was great meeting you, and I hope you’ll keep us in mind for any of your future projects! If you have any questions or would like more information, please give us a call at 904-751-4500 or email us at contact@doradographix.com and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Best wishes to all for a safe and happy holiday season!