Harsh Weather Diminishes Economic Outlook?

18 Mar
March 18, 2014

Today I found this infographic and can say that extreme weather affected our business these first two months of the year. Did it affect yours?

Thanks for reading,
Rick

WSJ-Infographic-0214-500

Making the Grade: Our DWX Mills Now Qualify for 3M ESPE’s New Nano Porcelain/Ceramic Material

21 Jan
January 21, 2014

We recently announced that our DWX-50 and DWX-4 dental mills have been qualified by 3M ESPE for the company’s Lava Ultimate Restorative nano porcelain/ceramic material.

This is fantastic news for you as a dental lab owner or technician, as it means you can now pair our award-winning DWX technology with this extraordinary new material to create highly precise, durable crowns, inlays and onlays without sintering.

lava-ultimateIt is also high praise for our DWX mills. To earn the certification, we worked closely with our partners at 3M ESPE for months as they put both devices through rigorous testing. Throughout this process, all hardware and software components were benchmarked to ensure that they meet 3M’s high quality standards at every turn.

3M describes Lava Ultimate Restorative as a resin nano porcelain/ceramic material that offers patients excellent esthetics, outstanding strength and long-term durability. It can be milled, polished and placed in the patient’s mouth in a fraction of the time required for other restoratives.

Affordable and easy to use, our DWX mills are based on open architecture technology which allows you to customize your production environment with the software, hardware, finishing equipment and materials of your choice – and then build on this workflow as new, advanced technologies become available.

According to Kristan Chesnut, global business director with 3M Digital Oral Care, “By qualifying Lava Ultimate CAD/CAM Restorative with Roland’s DWX-50 and DWX-4 milling machines, we bring high quality materials with more efficient and productive workflows to dental labs.”


For more details, read our press release here
View DWX mills in person at upcoming industry events, including Lab Day Chicago, Feb. 21 – 22 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.


VersaUV Technology Earns an A+ from Top Packaging Schools

17 Dec
December 17, 2013

versauv-packaging

In a retail environment flooded with competing advertising messages, how does one package cut through the clutter?

This is the dilemma explored by students at renowned university package design schools, including Clemson’s Sonoco Institute of Package Design & Graphics and RIT’s School of Print Media where the basics of design, printing and finishing processes are taught to aspiring package designers. Breakthrough packaging concepts start with a great prototype.  And a great prototype is one that looks, feels and performs in the marketplace just like the real thing.

lec
On these and other campuses, Roland’s VersaUV digital printers are getting high marks, offering students the ability to print, die cut and emboss prototypes, working with all types of packaging substrates as well as specialty inks.  Not only are students achieving the realistic results they need, but they are also exploring unique design concepts and materials that are stopping traffic in the aisles in various test market settings.

We invite you to read about these top-notch packaging schools in our white paper excerpt featured recently in the Flexo Global Newsletter.  You’ll see why VersaUV is both fundamental to the design process and a valuable resource for universities and businesses alike.

New White Paper Explores How VersaUV Technology Takes Package Prototyping to the Next Level

06 Dec
December 6, 2013

prototypes_fujisan Every package designer, flexographic printer, or converter faces a similar dilemma – how to produce a package prototype, quickly and economically, that looks and feels like the final product.  The problem is magnified ten-fold when the client wishes to see several iterations.

Fortunately, thanks to the recent introduction of UV inkjets with low-heat LED lights, there is now a solution for printing prototypes on actual press stock — prototypes that are so realistic that a customer often can’t tell them from the finished product.  Even better, with inkjet printing, prototypes can be produced in an hour or two on everything from corrugated cardboard and chipboard to shrink wrap, metallic and synthetic papers and foils, BOPP, PE and PET film.

A whitepaper written for the flexo market, “How UV LED Inkjet Technology Is Increasing Profits for Flexographic Printers,” presents expert analysis and user case studies to highlight how these printers make package prototyping and proofing easier, faster and more cost effective than ever before.

According to Adam Geerts, president of PBM Graphics, “Among all the millions of dollars of equipment we’ve purchased over the years, nothing has generated as much excitement with the sales team as the Roland VersaUV LEC-330. There’s a lot we can do to show the customer what a finished product will look like without having to manufacture one.”

21 SGIA Golden Image Awards 2013!

30 Oct
October 30, 2013
SGIA Golden Image Awards 2013

SGIA Golden Image Awards 2013

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m amazed at what our customers do with Roland equipment – this time for SGIA’s Golden Image Awards. Roland customers won 21 awards in various categories & with multiple entries. My congratulations to each of our customers below - You guys rock!

Here’s a link to a few, and a list below:

Varsha Transprint, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India (all produced using a Roland printer)

  • Gold – Finished Garments (Light), Digital Entries – “KATHAKALI”
  • Gold – Textile Products (Other), Digital Entries – “ANGEL CHHATRI”
  • Gold – Unique Applications, Digital Entries – “ROCK N RAAGA GUITAR”
  • Silver – Ad Specialties/Promotional Products, Digital Entries – “ELEPHANT COMPANY”
  • Silver – Calendars, Digital Entries – “OKTOBER FEAST”
  • Silver – Greeting Cards, Digital Entries – “THINKING OF YOU”
  • Silver – Metal Signs/Products, Digital Entries – “COLOR CODES”
  • Bronze – Ad Specialties/Promotional Products, Digital Entries – “SKY SCREEN INDIA TEA COASTERS”
  • Bronze – Fine Art, Digital Entries – “HOLI FACE”
  • Bronze – Finished Garments (Dark), Digital Entries – “OKTOBER FEAST”
  • Bronze – Glass/Mirrors, Flat, Digital Entries – “HOLIDAY MAN TILE”
  • Honorable Mention – Banners, Digital Entries – “STUDIO23”
  • Honorable Mention – Ceramics, Digital Entries – “BUTTERFLY”
  • Honorable Mention – Ceramics, Digital Entries – “TURTLE”
  • Honorable Mention – Glass, Curved, Digital Entries – “KATHAKALI”
  • Honorable Mention – Glass, Curved, Digital Entries – “KOLIWADA”

Metropolitan West, Santa Monica, Calif.

  • Gold – Interior Design, Digital Entries – “Open X”
    • Produced with a VersaUV® LEJ-640 hybrid flatbed printer and a VersaCAMM® VS-640 metallic inkjet printer/cutter
  • Bronze – Building Graphics, Digital Entries – “Real D”
    • Printed using a VersaUV LEJ-640 hybrid flatbed printer

Maxwell Dickson, Los Angeles, Calif.

  • Gold – Glass/Mirrors, Flat, Digital Entries – “Koi Coffee Table”
    • Printed on a VersaUV LEJ-640 hybrid flatbed printer

SagaBoy Productions, Santa Monica, Calif.

  • Gold – Building Graphics, Digital Entries – “The Newsroom Image”
    • Produced with a VersaCAMM VS-640 metallic inkjet printer/cutter

Alpine Graphic Productions, Schomberg, Ontario, Canada

  • Bronze – Vehicle Wraps, Digital Entries – “Superman Wrap with Roof Treatment”
    • Printed on a SOLJET® Pro 4 XR-640 metallic inkjet printer/cutter

 

Simply amazing. Thanks for reading,

Rick

Digital Publishing Solutions Innovation of the Year Awards for 2013

14 Oct
October 14, 2013

All,
Just got this email for nominees for Digital Publishing Solutions Innovation of the Year Awards for 2013. I may be biased, but there are some fantastic entries here. Amazingly, a full 57% (8 out of 14) of them are done using Roland technology (we had to ask behind the scenes as it’s not always mentioned below). We truly work with some astonishingly creative professionals, who push the boundaries of what’s possible. By putting “magical” products in the hands of masters, and you get some unbelievably good outcomes. My hat is off to all of our Roland pro’s! Chapeau!

I’d like to invite you to check out the applications nominated below, and let us know what you think. If you’d like to vote, please do. (Thanks in advance if you vote for Roland-developed work!)

Thanks for reading,

Rick

 

It’s time for the inaugural Innovation of the Year contest, honoring some of the most innovative work in digital print, publishing, and packaging. The nominees below were submitted by peers for your consideration.Scroll down to view all and click on the images to vote for the winner! Voting closes 10/25/2013.
Nominee: Crawford Industries
Location: Crawfordsville, IN, USA
About the Project: Customized and digitally printed menu for O’Charley’s Restaurant
Tools Used: interlinkONE
Nominee: CSW, Inc.
Location: Ludlow, MA, USA
About the Project: Package prototype with white ink and spot UV colors
Tools Used: Roland VersaUV LEC-330 30-inch UV inkjet printer/cutter, Roland ECO-UV inks
Nominee: Dream Signs
Location: Armenia, Quindio, Columbia, South America
About the Project: Salesfloor display for a commercial real estate development
Tools Used: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Roland VersaCAMM SP-300i printer/cutter, Roland CAMM 1 vinyl cutter, Roland Eco-Sol MAX inks
Nominee: Hazen Paper’s Holographic Lab
Location: Holyoke, MA, USA
About the Project: Custom holographic front and back cover design for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Tools Used: HP Indigo 7500, Hologjet Digital media
Nominee: Iconography Studios
Location: Los Alamitos, CA, USA
About the Project: Accordion wrap for client Cory Pesaturo
Tools Used: Roland SOLJET XC-540 and 3M IJ180 with 8518 laminate
Nominee: Kirkwood Direct
Location: Wilmington, MA, USA
About the Project: Magnetic displays that are easy to put up and take down for Comcast/Xfinity
Nominee: Latka Print
Location: Westfield, MA, USA
About the Project: Logo and die-cut brochure
Tools Used: InterlinkONE
Nominee: Maxwell Dickson
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
About the Project: Direct print onto tempered glass
Tools Used: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Roland VersaWorks, Roland LEJ-640, Rland Eco-UV gloss ink overlay
Nominee: Metropolitan West
Location: West Los Angeles, CA, USA
About the Project: Wall graphic for SKN at Wolcott Architectural for Real D
Tools Used: Roland VersaUV LEJ-640, Korographics Abaco Beach, Adobe Photoshop, Roland VersaWorks
Nominee: Peek Packaging
Location: Carlsbad, CA, USA
About the Project: Packaging for California Fruit Company
Tools Used: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Roland VersaUV LEC-540
Nominee: Print Art
Location: Egg Harbor, NJ, USA
About the Project: Trade show promotional pop-up
Nominee: SIPE, Inc.
Location: Fort Wayne, IN
About the Project: Promotional folder and cards
Tools Used: Adobe Photoshop, MGI JETvarnish 3-D
Nominee: Tobe Direct
Location: Louisville, KY, USA
About the Project: Digital print for direct mail pieces, flyers, and handouts
Tools Used: interlinkONE
Nominee: Virtuoso Graphics
Location: Houston, TX, USA
About the Project: Labels for facialist and  beauty product creator Brian Champagne
Tools Used: Roland VS-640 and Oracal Oralfol 3620 clear vinyl
Digital Publishing Solutions is a Rockport Custom Publishing, LLC magazine.
All rights reserved. 2013

Tricked Out Trucks Rule the Road

09 Oct
October 9, 2013

According to the American Trucking Association, more than 3.1 million professional truck drivers log close to 398 billion miles each year nationwide, delivering life’s essentials to consumers across the U.S. Interestingly, most commercial vehicles sport very little in the way of designed and printed graphics. This dynamic truly represents a missed opportunity for marketers and vehicle graphics shops alike.

To help drive this point home for some of the nation’s largest trucking companies, Roland is partnering with renowned big rig customization shop Outcast Kustoms of Mooresville, N.C., in a meeting of the Fleet Maintenance Council, a group of approximately 40 to 50 top fleet managers from companies like Ryder, Penske, Salem Leasing, Estes, Budget and Freightliner.

April and Kelvin Locklear are owners of Outcast Kustoms, which is both an all-Roland shop and the setting for a unique reality TV series on Discovery Channel’s Velocity Network titled “Outcast Kustoms.”

“We wrap trucks for so many different companies, and each has its own specific marketing objectives and design challenges,” April said. “For example, for our restaurant and grocery chains, the food has to look both realistic and delicious. Skin tones also have to be right on the money. And images have to be color matched across every truck in a fleet to ensure branding consistency. In the end, marketing is all about communication, and what better way to get the message out than with a big, bold and beautifully printed image?”

outcast_06

Roland Product Manager Eric Zimmerman echoes that sentiment. “For the marketer, vehicle graphics stand out as one of the few relatively unregulated forms of outdoor advertising,” he said.  “And when you are on the road with a sizeable presentation like the side of an 18-wheeler, you often have a very captive audience. For vehicle graphics shops, the market is often a natural fit for both their equipment and skill set.”

At the event, Eric will present on this topic, showcasing just how well suited Roland Pro 4 printing technology is for fleet graphics, offering the size, speed, color management capabilities and exceptional ink durability required for the application.

And he has some design tips to share as well.  As with billboard advertising, clean, impactful graphics are the best way to communicate a brand message. When it comes to copy, less is definitely more.  And anyone is this business should be prepared to handle some unusual jobs.

“We’ve wrapped everything from flatbed and box trucks to fleets of 18-wheelers, promotional buses and emergency vehicles,” April said. “Our next really unique project will be to wrap the barrels of some 300 cement trucks.”

outcast_07

Why not? They will be out there on the road, so they might as well advertise something. Besides, just think how fantastic they will look when they are all tricked out!

For more information on fleet customization by Outcast Kustoms, visit www.outcastkustoms.com.

Wide-Format Imaging’s State of the Industry: Roland DGA’s Perspective

20 Sep
September 20, 2013

September 2013

Wide-format Imaging Magazine recently did their annual “State of the Industry” wrap up with several companies in our space. While we’ll make it into some answers, I thought I’d post our responses to each of the questions. Enjoy!

How is the sign & graphics industry faring overall?
From our perspective, we see several indicators that the industry has moved beyond “recovery” and is growing again. Our Roland Academy training events are selling out. Show attendance is up at the many events we attend annually. Capital equipment investment is on the rise as well, and consumables usage is up. We see these as signs that the industry is healthy.

How do you think 2013 will end up for the sign & graphics market?
We believe this will ultimately be a very good year for the industry, exceeding the peak performance we all enjoyed during the 2007-2008 timeframe. External factors and fundamentals are still in play, though. So, while we are optimistic going forward, we are also taking a conservative approach to our business. Overall, we see this year as a time to capitalize and focus on the growth trend, and believe that this should be the true of our customers as well.

What technological changes and developments have helped to move the industry forward?
There are three aspects of print technology that are continuously being pursued and improved: productivity, image quality and reliability.
As digital printing makes inroads into more and more applications and market segments, productivity is always a priority. We have focused on improving the productivity of our printers with every introduction we have made in the past two years, and we will continue that trend in the future.

As digital printing has increased in popularity, so have the demands of our customers. Image quality requirements in terms of both color and definition have increased significantly. Some of the highest volume customers also have the most discerning image quality requirements. Expanded gamut is required to match the color requirements of a wider number of brands in a wider number of applications. Gone are the days when wide-format prints were only viewed from a distance. In today’s market, the wide format printer has to be able to print a bus wrap as well as a decal that will have a viewing distance of inches. Improved color and print technology have provided a level of image definition that goes beyond simply measuring quality in dpi.

Of course, image quality and productivity have little impact if the output cannot be created reliably. We have seen tremendous advances in color management, delivering more consistent results at higher speeds.

Though it has long been discussed, we finally took steps to have our inks and media tested, and behold – they passed. Our Eco-Sol MAX and Eco-Sol MAX 2 inks are now environmentally certified by GREENGUARD, and we now also offer a new premium quality wall graphic media, WallFlair, that is also GREENGUARD certified. This also means that our users who have been using EcoSolMax over the last 8-years can be assured that their inks are eco-friendly.

We also continue to see widespread adoption of our specialty inks, including white, metallic silver, clear and light black. These exciting breakthrough inks allow print providers to explore new markets and design options, providing a distinct competitive advantage for them.

What market segments do you think will have the biggest growth in 2014 and why?
On the print side, we expect to see significant growth in the use of textiles. We are also actively developing a digital signage solution which will open up new market opportunities for our customers. This market is very exciting as we are truly in the process of creating a whole new product segment to help our customers find incremental business. Any growth in this arena is very positive for the entire industry.

Custom print/cut wall graphics are perhaps the fastest growing market segment in wide-format printing. We expect to see a lot more demand for the GREENGUARD-certified WallFlair product line.

What are the primary business concerns in the sign & graphics market?
From our point of view, like any business we continue to focus on growing our revenues and maintaining our profitability. While the last few years have presented their challenges, we have successfully navigated this environment and believe we are well positioned for a more promising economy.

From a sign shop‘s perspective, we see versatility as a key ingredient to success. There are many businesses that were successful five years ago that are no longer here. The ability to offer a wide portfolio and expand the customer base allows the typical sign shop to exceed customer expectations and grow the business.

What is the biggest issue facing the sign & graphics industry right now and how do you think it should be addressed?
Looking at this question from a broader standpoint, the issue is whether we’re really in the sign and graphics business or something larger. The term “visual communications” may actually better define what most print providers produce today. As applications and technologies continue to evolve, we as a manufacturer are enlarging our view of the market as well. This shift in thinking will benefit us all, leading to new opportunities for growth and prosperity.

Thanks for reading,

Rick

Congratulations, Iconography And Maxwell Dickson, Named “Application Of The Year” Award Winners By Readers Of Digital Output!

26 Aug
August 26, 2013

In this post, we’d like to highlight the most recent award-winning Roland businesses, Iconography and Maxwell Dickson, who took first and second place titles respectively in the 2013 Digital Output Magazine “Application of the Year” awards!

Demonstrating exceptionally innovative applications as well as excellence in design and production, Digital Output award winners are chosen by the publication’s readership annually.

Clearly, these dynamic Roland shops wowed the voting public this year with their masterful creations – all while demonstrating that you can print on, and wrap, just about anything.  Read on to hear from them exactly how they did it.

First Place – Iconography’s Amazing Accordian Wrap

Music to Our Ears

Iconography Studios Accordian Wrap IMG_6150

“Our vehicle wrap experts are proud to have designed, printed and installed the first-ever graphic wrap on a Roland FR-7X accordion for our client, Cory Pesaturo,” said Iconography’s Sarah Naccarato.

“This amazing project falls into our ‘most difficult wrap’ category. Designed by our award-winning design team and printed on our Roland SOLJET wide-format printer/cutter, it was laminated and then installed by our vinyl ninjas with an extraordinary amount of patience and zen focus.”

Watch this clip to see just how cool this accordion is in action: WATCH THE VIDEO.

Second Place – Maxwell Dickson’s Whimsical Coffee Tables

A Stylish Blending of Form and Function

Maxwell Dickson Coffee Table 6

“We try to create an urban, colorful vibe in our products that appeals to younger consumers,” said James Freeman of Maxwell Dickson.  “Our goal is to keep the line fresh and to push the envelope creatively.”

“To produce our coffee tables, we use our Roland LEJ-640 flatbed inkjet printer with the latest UV-LED curing technology to print art directly onto the 3/8-inch-thick tempered glass surface of the table.  This unique technique and compelling design come together to present a modern look with a lightly textured finish that is both durable and beautiful.”

Witness the artistry of Maxwell Dickson in this VIDEO CLIP.

Getting Under the Hood of our New Pro 4 Line

29 Jul
July 29, 2013

pro4-xr-xf

Our new SOLJET® Pro 4 line is taking off like a rocket. In fact, we can’t build these printers fast enough. While this success can be attributed to many factors, we would like to take this opportunity to shine the spotlight behind the scenes – and give our exceptional Global One product development team the credit it deserves.

With the new Pro 4 line, which includes both the XR-640 64” printer/cutter and XF-640 64” printer, our product development team tapped into the vision, energy and technical know-how of Roland experts across several different departments and continents – R&D, sales, marketing, technical services, manufacturing, production, purchasing, quality assurance and distribution. This cross-departmental team is now in place for the long term, working together to plan, develop and maintain new products.

The Pro 4 is truly the brain child of many. In the product planning phase, team leaders from the product development department worked closely with our marketing team to develop product specifications reflecting our customers’ requirements and expectations, based on market research. Additional features were included to build a printer line well beyond anything we or our competitors have ever offered.

In the design phase, the team began to finalize the specifications by incorporating product enhancements from each member, including improved product and print quality from the quality assurance department, simpler maintenance procedures from technical and customer service departments, and easy assembly processes from the manufacturing group.

But the team didn’t stop there. They fine tuned every aspect of the Pro 4 line, and when prototypes were finally created, they were impressive.

Just what makes the series so unique? Breathtaking image quality. With the Pro 4, we took the functionality and reliability of our existing machines and brought in new ink and print heads to create a truly superb printer.

XR_printhead

For example, the print heads of the XR-640 are arranged in an inline formation with seven different droplet sizes which achieve smoother gradations and richer density for photographic and high-resolution vector output. Configured in a mirrored pattern through seven colors, in any of the four ink configurations, the new heads virtually eliminate chromatic banding in bi-directional printing.

As for the XF-640, we focused on speed, without sacrificing image quality. This printer features the same advanced print heads in a staggered formation for maximum productivity and a top speed of 1,098 square feet per hour.

XF_printhead

Pro 4 printers also come with our most advanced eco-solvent ink ever, Eco-Sol MAX® 2. Its improved formulation dries quickly and makes for dazzlingly sharp, high-quality images. Even with posters and stickers that are viewed up close, the print quality is unmatched. Finally, the team decided to add specialty inks, including light black, to the XR-640’s ink configuration. Light black has dramatically improved the XR’s greyscale capabilities, yielding a much wider variety of greys. With higher density white ink and more vibrant metallic silver ink included as well, the value proposition is unparalleled.

XR-640 Team Leader Tetsuya Yanagawa couldn’t agree more. He said, “We have created machines for the new era. More than ever, each member of our development team put his or her heart and soul into the products, and we fully stand behind the results as we ship them out into the world. Now, it is time for our customers to join us in our satisfaction. We plan to continue with this cross-departmental approach to new products. The results speak for themselves.”