By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Grand format printing equipment offers many features that attract exhibit and display graphic providers, namely to output wider graphics without seams and high production speeds. Digital Output considers grand format anything over 95 inches ink width. These devices are superwide and therefore it’s important to consider several factors when preparing for delivery and installation. This includes ensuring freight requirements, preparing for delivery, creating a floor plan, determining power requirements, and even hiring a licensed rigger.
Grand format printers are typically delivered fully assembled from the print manufacturer. The freight can come on multiple truck loads, depending on the printer’s size and its accessories.
“The physical dimensions of the printer should be part of the consideration,” advises Christopher Guyett, sales & marketing coordinator, Durst North America. PSPs can locate the printer measurements typically in the product’s technical specifications.
He advises PSPs to hire a licensed and bonded rigger to ensure safe, efficient offloading and equipment placement. “The printer manufacturer should also be able to provide the dimensions and weight of the printer on the pallet.”
Freight and sizing aren’t the only considerations in the delivery process. Delivery and installation charges are additional concerns. PSPs should be aware that not all vendors include the delivery cost in the purchase of their grand format device. They may invoice it separately along with any extra rigging costs. Randy Paar, marketing manager, Canon Solutions America, suggests PSPs ask upfront if freight is charged separately to avoid any surprises. “We instead provide a flat rate delivery and installation cost that is on the printer order and as a result can be included in the financing.”
PSPs anticipating the delivery of a grand format device should have the intended route prepared. This includes considering any infrastructure challenges or requirements, creating a floor plan diagram, and performing a site survey.
The equipment entrance for the printer’s delivery is of utmost importance. Print shops need to consider if a loading dock or ramp is needed and if the doors are wide enough to accommodate the equipment and the crates it sits in. “Consider the printer delivery and the path that is required to get the printer to its final location,” advises Guyett.
To ensure a smooth delivery, PSPs can plan for expansion ahead of time by determining if there is enough space in the facility for a grand format printer. Typical printer footprints measure ten or 16 feet wide. According to Guyett, the floor where the equipment will reside must be level and able to support the weight of the press.
He suggests PSPs develop a simple scaled floor plan diagram showing power outlets, air lines, network drops, and where the equipment will go. “Plan the location of each component to the production,” explains Guyett. “Make a detailed list of the equipment components, storage, and supplies to be accommodated in the printing area. Understand the workflow between equipment and efficient operational techniques.”
Paar also suggests PSPs perform a site survey. He adds, “since these are very big devices, it’s important to measure all the doors and hallways that the printer may need to be moved through.” This should be done well in advance to accommodate any building modifications prior to accepting delivery.
Lastly, because grand format printers are large and print quickly, the print material will move in and out of the production area frequently. Therefore, Guyett believes PSPs should consider space for a lift truck or pallet jack access. “There should be proper consideration of space for storage of printed rolls that is in close proximity to roll goods finishing operations. If the press is a flatbed/hybrid—which prints to boards—plan an easy path to the finishing operations.”
Installing a grand format device can take several weeks but it’s usually not a difficult task when properly prepared.
The installation process varies by manufacturer, distributor, and device. Generally, a site review is performed during purchasing to ensure proper electrical, plumbing, and other operating requirements are in place. “This information will be provided by the manufacturer,” explains Victoria Nelson Harris, textile specialist, Mimaki USA, Inc.
Once a route is in place and the printer is scheduled for a room with adequate space, power, and environmental requirements, the actual installation process begins. The timeline for installation depends on configuration but it is typically a three week process. Frank Cilia, director of field service operations, EFI, details the first week as the physical installation, while the second week is allocated for operator certification. The third, optional week is reserved for professional services to assist and train customers with color management.
“Printer installation includes the full setup, alignment, and leveling of the machining, lining the print table/platen and carriage, calibrating printheads, and printing test files to match and compare to factory baselines and engineering settings,” offers Cilia.
During the first week of physical printer installation, it is highly suggested that PSPs utilize a professional equipment rigging company to uncrate and move the grand format device through the facility and into the installation location. “Quality riggers provide a site review prior to equipment delivery to ensure the delivery path meets the requirement of the equipment’s size and weight,” shares Robert Sudol, national project manager, Agfa. If the preferred path needs to be altered, the rigging company should provide alternative solutions.
Once the machine is in place, Harris says a technician will unpack and install the inks, perform test runs, install software, and provide training on daily maintenance and how to operate the printer.
Installation can take more time depending largely on the printer configuration ordered and the number of printheads that need to be installed and calibrated. “With most printers coming in single piece, the assembly process has been reduced by a lot in the recent years, making the installation time less,” admits Sohil Singh, VP, StratoJet USA.
In select devices, software takes over most of the calibration and helps setup the printer faster than traditional mechanical calibrations. PSPs should also consider training because it is a new technology and will expand the shop’s services. “Training is a very important part of installation, all aspects relating to applications, mechanical, software, as well as operations must be thoroughly taught to the end user to maximize the use of the printer in the most efficient way,” adds Singh.
It’s important that PSPs don’t forget about the necessary power requirements for their future grand format press.
Most printers will require either 100 or 220 volts but in some cases dual access to these or higher voltage is required. “Contracting a professional electrician to review is an important step,” notes Michael Maxwell, senior manager, Mimaki. Power should be in place before the printer arrives. PSPs can check with manufacturers and identify the installation location so the power source aligns with the proper electrical panel on the printer.
It’s also important to consider the local power supply—ensuring it is reliable and consistent. According to Maxwell, as long as the PSP isn’t in an area where electrical service is offline frequently, the local power supply should be suitable. “Otherwise, it may be wise to look into an industrial strength power line conditioner and possibly an uninterrupted power supply.”
According to Sudol, in Canada and the U.S. the general power requirement is three phase power with voltages between 240 and 600 and 30 to 60 amps. If the required voltage is not provided by the utility, he says the use of a step up or step down transformer would meet the proper requirements.
Preparation is Key
PSPs should take care when considering the delivery and installation requirements of a grand format press. From freight requirements, space considerations, and even power requirements, it’s essential that PSPs prepare for new grand format devices.
Part two of this series highlights available grand format printers.
May2020, Digital Output