Print businesses constantly seek ways to expand their product portfolio, enhance productivity and improve efficiency. Digital print is an industry full of innovation so there are lots of options, but for sheer breadth of opportunities and chances to express your creative flair, flatbed digital UV printers are hard to beat. They can print on virtually any surface and deliver vibrant, durable prints, making them a coveted addition to print businesses seeking versatility and quality.
You can find out more about what you can print on with a UV flatbed printer in our article here. But how do you know when it’s time to introduce a flatbed printer to your business? Here are our top tips to help you make the right decision.
Assess Your Business Needs
Nobody knows your business better than you and, if you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve already identified whether there’s space to expand and the direction you want to go in while retaining your creativity and the quality of your customised products. So, does purchasing a flatbed printer align with your business needs and goals? Here are some key factors to consider:
Ever had the idea for a great new printed product and thought: “How can I make this a reality”? Well, with UV printing you can print on diverse materials, such as glass, metal, or acrylic, or directly onto objects, like phone cases and promotional items, opening up a huge market.
You might well have had requests for printing on unconventional materials that you can’t accommodate. Outsourcing the job rather than turning it down is a good way to retain business, but you have less control over the final output. If it doesn’t match the quality your customer expects from you, it could affect your reputation. So, if these requests are frequent enough to make it commercially viable to bring these services in-house, you can take back control and, of course, keep the whole profit.
2. Print Volume and Speed
If you struggle to meet high-volume print orders with your current print setup or need to improve the speed and efficiency of your printing processes, a flatbed printer can significantly increase your productivity and throughput.
Being able to print directly to objects significantly shortens your production workflow. Instantaneous drying times let you process your prints right off the flatbed and using a custom printing jig or media presets in your RIP software can make it even quicker and easier to handle larger volumes of jobs efficiently.
It’s important to consider the size of the items you intend to print on so that you can plan what size of flatbed would suit you best. Roland DG’s desktop LEF2 flatbed printers come in either 770x330 mm or 508x330 mm, allowing you to print a larger single object or multiple smaller items at once. These machines are capable of printing small signs too, although larger signs on rigid substrates would require a bigger machine such as the CO series or EU-1000MF.
3. Print Quality and Durability
UV flatbed printers excel in delivering sharp, detailed prints with exceptional colour vibrancy and durability. Having a professional UV print setup ensures you’ll consistently meet your customers' expectations with high-quality and long-lasting print.
The outstanding print quality of UV printers and their specially formulated inks make it possible to reproduce photo-realistic artwork on almost any item you can think of. The natural texture of the substrate can even be incorporated into the design, such as when printing on wood or metal. A rotary jig attachment helps produce fantastic results when printing cylindrical items like wine bottles.
4. Customisation and Personalisation
One look at online marketplaces and gift stores shows how popular customised products are and it's only forecasted to continue growing. In fact, the recent Deloitte Consumer Review, “Made to Order: The Rise of Mass Personalisation*”, found that 50% of customers find that customised products make great gifts because they like something unique or that expresses their personality, they enjoy being involved in the design phase or feel that standard products don’t offer them what they want.
A UV flatbed device allows you to express your creativity and try things that simply aren’t possible with other technologies. It also gives you the chance to practice and prototype because setup is simple, and you don’t need to produce long runs to make it profitable.
LEF2 UV flatbed printers can print directly onto objects up to either 100 or 200 mm as long as the print surface is relatively flat and fits under the printheads. You can print a single object or multiple objects with the same or different designs, a process made even easier with VersaWorks 6 variable data functionality. They are also capable of various specialised printing techniques with gloss ink, including tactile print and special effects. This allows you to offer innovative solutions that separate you from your competition and captivate your customers.
5. Environmental Considerations
Environmental responsibility is more important to customers than ever, so it’s important for businesses to try to match their values. UV-curable inks emit low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making them a more environmentally friendly option compared to other solutions.
The ability to print directly to an object also reduces much of the waste associated with print, such as excess vinyl and backing paper. UV printing also enables the customisation of unbranded items, such as plain t-shirts, with logos or designs when the order is made. This reduces the inventory needed and waste generated, giving you more freedom to try new ideas with less physical surplus.
Analyse Costs and Returns
While any UV flatbed printer involves a significant financial investment, the longer-term benefits are numerous. However, to make an informed decision, it pays to conduct a thorough analysis of costs and potential returns.
1. Potential Revenue Increase
Estimate the additional revenue you can generate by offering new services and fulfilling a wider range of customer requests. Consider the price you can charge for the enhanced print quality and customisation capabilities offered by a flatbed printer. You can then project the ROI by comparing the upfront and ongoing costs with the anticipated revenue increase over a specified period.
Deloitte reported in “Made to Order: The Rise of Mass Personalisation” that 50% of customers feel that personalised products make great gifts and that buyers would pay up to a 20% premium for personalised products.
2. Initial Investment
That potential revenue increase is what makes the initial investment worth it over time. One cost you don’t have to think about when investing in a Roland DG flatbed printer is the cost of RIP software as VersaWorks 6, included with the purchase of all our printers, provides total print workflow control. However, you still need to consider any additional costs above the price of purchasing the printer, whether you need to modify your workspace to accommodate the new equipment, and factor in fume filtration systems too.
3. Operational Costs
Ongoing costs are an important consideration when investing in a new piece of print equipment expenses, such as ink, maintenance, electricity, and other consumables required for the printer's operation. Roland DG UV flatbed printers are designed for reliable, efficient operation and are supported by an industry-leading post-sales team.
The Roland DG Connect app is a popular solution for giving users more access to their devices so that they can keep their business running efficiently. It allows users to monitor ink usage and system health, helping them to predict issues before they arise, as well as warranty information, update notifications and many more features designed to keep you up and running.
Consider Long-term Sustainability
When you’re committed to purchasing a new device, you want to be certain that it is future-proof, not just that it will last, but that it will provide long-term sustainability and growth potential for your business.
1. Market Demand and Trends
Customisation businesses of all sizes are going from strength to strength, with personalised gifts and products only gaining in popularity each year. Even so, keeping up to date with market trends ensures that the demand for flatbed printing services aligns with your business goals and vision. If you can identify opportunities early, be sure that your equipment can keep up with your growth demands.
Monitoring social media or online marketplaces is a great way to identify trends and using research tools to help you feature highly in online searches will improve your visibility. You could even look into building an analytics-backed e-commerce site, which would enable you to optimise your marketing activity and meet your customer needs more accurately.
2. Scalability and Expansion
Adding a flatbed printer to your business should align with your long-term growth strategy. Your device can be used to support your primary product offering, but it could also take over as you potentially diversify your offering. Another feature to help integration and business growth is Roland DG’s VersaWorks 6, a powerful but user-friendly RIP software package that supports up to four different machines, designed to help keep things simple as your business expands.
The personalisation market is full of success stories, people who’ve developed their businesses with Roland machines, such as UK-based Stuff4:
“Our Roland DG machines have been invaluable to us as we have developed our business model and diversified into a new area of business. Expanding into an unknown market can be a risk, but thanks to Roland DG that risk has paid off. We have worked with other machines in the past, but with Roland DG's products you can immediately notice the difference.”
Taking the next steps in expanding your business is exciting and is proof that your hard work and creativity are paying off. The potential benefits can position you for long-term success and growth, while also keeping your ideas fresh. Ultimately, a UV flatbed printer could be exactly what your business needs to excel and stand out in a competitive market.
If you’d like more information on anything mentioned in this article, please contact your Roland DG representative, or talk to an expert here.