Ricoh Bridges the Gap Between Commercial and Wide Format
Ricoh (Booth 1351) has a new mission to help bridge the gap between cut-sheet commercial printing and wide-format printing.
“Commercial printers are looking to add some flavor of wide format to what they do and it’s an ideal direction for most of them,” says Dan Johansen, Wide Format Marketing Manager, Commercial & Industrial Printing Business Group, Ricoh USA. “They’re expanding their footprints among their existing customer base and they need a way to attract new business. Wide format is a great way to do that with a relatively low level of investment.”
“We’re sort of doing the same thing,” he adds. “We’re growing our own footprint among our customer base and with new customers who, quite frankly, historically would not have thought of Ricoh as one of the first names to roll off their tongues when it comes to wide format.”
Not that Ricoh is a stranger to wide-format printing. If you look under the hoods of a fair portion of the wide-format machines on the show floor this week, you’ll find Ricoh printheads, the new Gen5 heads in particular. Over the past three years, Ricoh has brought to market its own Pro L series of latex-based wide-format printers. These are 54-/64-inch roll-to-roll machines that print in six colors (CMYKGO) as well as white. Ricoh has also been successful with its partnership with Mimaki selling flatbed printers. This week, Ricoh is highlighting its expanded relationship with EFI, now serving as a channel partner to sell EFI’s inkjet machines. (Ricoh will be showing the EFI Pro16h hybrid printer in its booth.)
Commercial printers simply want to expand the number of products and services they can offer to their customer base. “That involves bread-and-butter wide-format: banner work, board work and point-of-purchase,” says Johansen. If a commercial printer does, say, book or other publication work, a client company likely has wide-format needs for trade show graphics, interior or even exterior branding, signage, décor for corporate facilities and even vehicle wraps. “There are many revenue streams available to most commercial printers,” says Johansen. A lot of commercial shops have started tapping into these opportunities by outsourcing wide-format work.
“Their biggest challenge is when outsourcing should turn into in-house manufacturing,” says Johansen. “For a pretty robust entry- or production-level wide-format solution, a hybrid printer, some finishing and color services, it’s a modest investment, which can be pretty easy to justify economically, especially if you’re doing $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 or more a month in outsourced work.”
We often hear of commercial printers moving from cut-sheet work into wide-format, but Ricoh has seen movement in the opposite direction, as well. “For our customers, the lines are blurring,” says Johansen. “Just like cut-sheet printers are looking to add wide-format, people who are singularly focused on wide-format have an opportunity to add cut-sheet, since they outsource a lot of commercial print work. The opportunities are two sides of the same coin.” To that end, Ricoh is demonstrating a new release of its Ricoh Pro 7110X 5-color digital cut-sheet press.
“A big advantage for us is that we do a lot more than just sell the equipment,” says Johansen. “It’s really about the glue that holds it all together. Especially if you’re a commercial printer adding wide format, we can tie in professional services to color manage the whole system and manage that whole workflow from cut-sheet into wide format. That’s a critical need for the customer, because at the end of the day, the most important thing is their customer.”