Custom sign production has changed because of flatbed printing. It is very exciting for sign makers everywhere. The very way these printers work has become a real game changer.
It has changed everything about custom sign production. First, there is no more vinyl. The machine prints directly to the substrate, which completely eliminates the amount of vinyl and scrap paper that is wasted.
The amount of time and labor spent producing a custom sign the old school way (where the sign maker just cut the vinyl or printed the vinyl and mounted it to the substrate) was immense. Now it is only necessary to cut the substrate to the finished size, and then run it through the printer.
It also cuts down on the management. No one needs to oversee the work done by the sign maker. the machine does it all. It reduces the turnaround time down to 20% of what it was previously -- an 80% savings. There are some jobs that would take custom sign makers five days to complete; now they can be done in two hours.
There is a great difference between the flatbed where the print head moves and the flatbed where the bed and the substrate move. Each model and style has its advocates. Some prefer the model where the substrate holds completely still and the print head moves; this limits the size of sign to 4' x 8'. Others prefer the model where the print head is nearly stationary, only moving back and forth, but the substrate rolls underneath the head; it is possible to use longer substrates, but there is a greater likelihood of print error.
The big benefit to the flatbed printer is that while one custom sign project is finishing, the operator is laying in the next substrate so there is no lost time. Just keep going and keep pushing it. As long as there are custom sign jobs running on the computer, there is no downtime. It works like dropping another piece of paper into a regular printer. Just set up several print jobs to run at once, and then continually feed the printer.
These flatbed printers have also helped sign companies cut down on labor costs. They do more with less time, which frees up staff requirements. Some sign companies are able to reallocate the people who were spending so much time on vinyl sign production to other sign-making products.
Some companies have even reported being able to pick up more custom sign business because they no longer have a 3-5 day turnaround time. Instead, they can have a custom sign project finished by the next day. This means people can go to them for a completed project 24 hours later.
Faster signs, fewer people, more business. Sounds like a flatbed printer truly is a game changer in the custom sign business.
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