Large-format printing enterprise Gigantic Color has moved its business into a new league that fully lives up to its large-sized name, thanks to new flatbed digital printing capabilities from HP. As the first company in the world to install the revolutionary HP Scitex FB7500 Printer, Gigantic Color is proving every day that digital printing gives screen printing a run for its money. The result: dramatically larger orders are now coming Gigantic Color's way, raising the company's revenues and propelling it from a regionally focused shop onto the national stage.
Established in 1989 as a single-employee typography shop, Gigantic Color today has 65 employees in Dallas and Fort Worth, TX. It provides high-profile local, regional and national clients with the full range of large-format printing applications, including billboards, interior and exterior signage, and vehicle graphics. Over the years, the company has repeatedly turned to HP to gain new capabilities and expand capacity. Most recently, it was the first printing company in the world to install the HP Scitex FB7500 Printer, a high-speed printer that tripled the firm's flatbed printing capacity almost overnight. It was Gigantic Color's biggest-ever printing equipment purchase - and their fastest.
No hesitation on ‚must-have' printer
„We saw the HP Scitex FB7500 Printer at SGIA and we were immediately impressed with its speed, image quality, substrate versatility, and user-friendly loading and unloading," recalls Gigantic Color owner John Bowers, Sr. „We said to ourselves: ‚if someone else in our market had this machine and we didn't, we wouldn't be able to compete."
After installing the new printer, Gigantic Color began seeing benefits almost immediately. General Manager Troy McGinnis says: „The printer, even though it was the first one, performed way beyond our expectations. The operators loved its very intuitive operation and easy maintenance. We were able to cross-train people from other presses in a matter of days, and within a week of running live jobs we did 80 hours of printing in 10."
„We've printed on everything from styrene, expanded PVC, Coroplast, and every type of paper you can imagine, all the way to corkboard, aluminum sheets, polycarbonate, and heavy Dibond. Nothing we've tried has stopped that printer." One of the reasons Gigantic Color has been able to enjoy such high media versatility is because of the quality of the HP Scitex FB221 Ink, which adheres well and maintains consistent quality on a wide range of substrates.
Clients happy to ditch analog
Many of the jobs that Gigantic Color is now taking - such as a 500-sheet job on Coroplast and an order for 100 boxed truck fleet graphics - would previously have gone to screen printers. „We're winning quotes averaging in the 750-1500 copy range when before, we would be lucky to touch jobs that were 200-250 copies," says Bowers. „We've had many tours of large clients coming in to see the printer in action. Once they see the quality and speed, they almost always immediately send in jobs."
For the high-quality end of the market, Gigantic Color generally runs its HP Scitex FB7500 Printer at about 60-70 beds per hour, which is approximately 279 m2/hr (3000ft2/hr). For real estate and political signage accounts, it prints at the top speed of 105 1,2 x 10,4m (4 x 8ft) sheets per hour. „This combination of speed and quality allows us to go after screen printing jobs," says McGinnis.
John Bowers adds: „Something that previously took four or five days is taking just one shift. We recently printed 750 4 x 8 ft boards of expanded PVC. That kind of job would have made us very nervous, but now we can do it virtually without thinking. Our biggest challenge now is how to get it all through finishing."
Digital serves up big savings for eatery chain
Digital printing with the HP Scitex FB7500 Printer is bringing super-sized benefits to both Gigantic Color and its customers. A recent promotional banner job for a national restaurant chain is an excellent example of the win-win proposition. The client needed 6000 double-sided full pocket banners, in six different versions, with text and a lot of saturated reds. The turnaround time was three weeks, but due to other orders, Gigantic Color could dedicate only around six printing hours a day to that job. Printing the 0,9 x 3m (3 x 10ft) banners on a special polycoated fabric, in two-up, 3-pass mode (49 1,2 x 10,4m/4 x 8ft sheets per hour), Gigantic Color was able to print 160 banners in three hours, and easily meet all its production deadlines.
„This customer usually does silk screen, but they still were very, very pleased with the quality and color," says Bowers. „They got the benefit of digital printing in that they'll be able to order future runs of the banner according to what they need, when they need it - without compromising on quality."
„We've experienced that with other customers who would normally have to keep $20,000 to $30,000 worth of banners in stock and ship them out as needed. We convinced them that they can save money by having us print just one or however many they need. They no longer need to hold that stock."
This can result in further savings - and environmental benefits - as inventories of printed signage can become outdated even before they are used. The flexibility to print as needed can help to cut waste and thereby to reduce costs.