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8 Tips for Reducing Wastage in Wide-format Print Runs

When running a print business, any form of waste has an impact on the bottom line. To reach real levels of success, it’s essential to reduce unnecessary outgoings whilst maintaining or increasing profits. In the past few years, the digital print industry has advanced in such ways as to give business owners the tools they need to make the most of all their resources.

There are lots of ways that wastage can creep into your print workflow and in this article, we’ll show you how managing design layouts, calibrating ink usage and reducing errors will help you keep waste down and keep your margins high.

Designing print files in an efficient way
Designing print files in an efficient way

1. Optimise Design and Layout

Before even starting to print, you can plan your designs in a more economical way. This includes simple thinks like reducing unnecessary margins around elements when creating artboards with multiple items.

It may also help to save each element rather than saving files containing multiple elements. By doing this, you can use a nesting function in your RIP to arrange the elements on the sheet in the most economical way.

If you can’t separate the elements or reduce margins before importing files into the rip, you can use the clipping functionality, as many times as needed, to crop each file. From here, you can duplicate the items and use the nesting function, using the space more effectively.

Finally, if you have several jobs to print, it’s best to batch them together into larger jobs, rather than printing each job individually. This simply allows the RIP to nest more items into a smaller area. All these functionalities, and many others, are available with Roland’s VersaWorks RIP.

Although it might not seem like you’re saving a lot of wasted media per job, over time the savings are significant.

2. Conduct Regular Maintenance

Poor maintenance is one of the biggest causes of faulty equipment which can lead to wasted inks and print media.

Our range of printing equipment from desktop to wide-format to flatbed is developed to make regular maintenance as user-friendly as possible, and some repairs can be made without the assistance of a specialised technician. You can also use Roland DG Connect to monitor your machine health and minimise your likelihood of wastage.

If your supplier offers site visits as part of a warranty or care package, make full use of them. Not only can expert engineers spot and repair faults, bringing your device back to full working order, but they may also have their own useful tips that can help save time and money.

Checking a printer for optimum performance
Checking a printer for optimum performance

3. Conduct Pre-print Checks

It’s frustrating to throw away a bad print due to a defect you could have spotted if you had only checked before attempting to print. You can save a lot of money in wasted ink and material by carrying out some simple pre-print checks.

Be sure to calibrate your printer, especially if you have just installed a new type of media. Functions like cleaning cycles, nozzle checks, bi-directional alignments and media gap adjustments are easy to perform and help ensure that everything is perfectly adjusted for your print job.

Also, check your ink levels before printing to ensure that you have enough to complete the job. Similarly, if it looks like you are getting near the end of a roll of media, you can perform a prefeed function, which will spool out the media required for the job before you start printing.

4. Monitor Ink Usage

You can manage your wastage level, firstly by keeping an eye on it. Keep track of the amount of ink you order, and how much you use on a regular basis. You will find that you tend to run out of certain inks faster than others, so it makes sense to balance your stock accordingly. For repeat jobs or large jobs such as a fleet of vehicles, you can also use the RIP button in VersaWorks to generate a detailed breakdown of ink consumption by channel.

Ink does have a shelf life, so usage monitoring is a good way to make sure you only keep stock of the inks you use, and don’t run the risk of stockpiling inks past their use-by date.

Our advanced monitoring solution Roland DG Connect, is a mobile app designed with this purpose in mind, as well as offering other functionalities.

5. Change Up Your Print Process

It’s a good idea to take a step back from your current print process and look at the aspects you might take for granted. In a lot of cases, you could easily find a more efficient way of working by changing the print process completely and adopting more advanced, less wasteful practices.

For example, if you print large boards on a regular basis, you’ll know that the process can be quite labour intensive and results in additional waste materials. The additional application of laminate film creates an extra source of waste, but it also creates more opportunities for errors. By switching to a flatbed UV printing solution, you not only negate the waste from application, but you also enable much faster turnaround times for these kinds of jobs.

For direct-to-object printing and garment printing, analogue methods like screen printing and pad printing are great for producing large volumes of products but they are notoriously wasteful when you consider the large bulk of unsold stock and the additional ink wastage generated. Digital printing removes the need for screens or pads, eliminating this source of waste and also greatly reducing the risk of printing excess products.

Finally, if you already use a digital direct-to-object printing system, you might be wasting blanks due to misaligning items to your print bed. Investing in printing jigs for the jobs you do frequently takes the guesswork out of direct-to-object printing and can greatly mitigate the risk of wastage due to misprints.

6. Store Media Properly

Defective media results in defective print products. Whether it’s down to dents or scratches, or failing adhesive, a lot of complaints can be addressed by simply storing your media in the right way.

Ensure your media storage area doesn’t experience extremes of temperature and humidity and the rolls are kept in a safe place, free from knocks. It’s also best to handle it at the edges or use gloves to ensure fingerprints aren’t transferred to your final product.

Inspecting a print for quality
Inspecting a print for quality

7. Insist on Quality

It’s very tempting to look for bargains and seek short-term savings by opting for the cheapest equipment and materials you can find. While you might get lucky with a genuinely good deal, it’s best to spend whatever you need to ensure that your products are of high quality.

Firstly, it’s the best way to maintain customer satisfaction and secure future business, but it also helps reduce wastage and increase efficiency. Poor quality materials are also more prone to printing defects which result in products that aren’t fit for sale and must be disposed of.

When it comes to inks, manufacturers develop hardware to run reliably on specific ink formulations. Third party companies may produce cheaper inks, which may work on your device, but those devices were never tested or developed for those inks. Over time, there’s a very real risk that these inks will damage your equipment.

8. Implement a Good Briefing and Approval Process

Sometimes, wastage has nothing to do with the quality of your work and is merely the result of misunderstanding and poor briefing. Your client might know what they want but, for one reason or another, they don’t communicate it very well. Or they might only have a vague idea of what they want and can’t picture the result until they see it before them. Worst of all, they might simply change their mind midway through production forcing you to start from scratch.

You can save a lot of time and materials by insisting on a clear brief, seeking official confirmation that your proposal matches their brief and documenting approval at every stage.

One of the simplest things to do is to produce a virtual mock-up of the finished product, whether that’s a vehicle wrap, a large wall graphic or a customised notebook. At this stage, the customer is more capable of providing useful feedback and it doesn’t cost any media or ink.

You can also share samples to ensure the media finish and colour reproduction meets their expectations. While this might require printing an additional test swatch, it ensures that your customer gets what they want without the need for costly reprints, and it also improves your reputation as a proactive and attentive partner.


With these practices, you can keep your costs as low as possible and improve the profitability of your business with minimal effort. If you’re looking for more ways to make more money with the tools you have, get in touch with one of our experts.

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