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The Sky's the Limit with Inkjet

The capabilities of the inkjet printers also bring new products to sell. "Labs now have great opportunities to offer photographic output on non photographic media, like fine art paper," he says. "With these new printers and inks, you can offer more choices, and better quality images that are more durable than what you could offer with photography."

The technology gives labs an opportunity to build on existing strengths, he says. "They already have a strong relationship with the photographic community, and the experience and understanding of how to deliver high quality."

Epson also offers the 10600 model. Designed to meet the most demanding print requirements, the new Epson Stylus Pro 10600 incorporates the company's advanced ink, print head, and printer engine technologies, ensuring it's future position as the most technologically advanced system of its kind.

"Imagine being able to produce truly photographic output on virtually any media at print speeds faster than you thought possible. With the Epson Stylus Pro 10600, you no longer have to compromise print quality to get truly productive print speeds," said Radogna.

Inkjet's Appeal Hewlett-Packard's newest solution for wide-format photographic inkjet output is the Designjet 5500 series, available in 42- and 60-inch widths with pricing starting at $10,495. "Inkjet has become the digital technology of choice for large-format prints in small runs," observes Sandy Gramley, North American Designjet product manager for Hewlett-Packard.

"You can now scan to file or scan to print on the 5500," says Gramley "If you're looking to expand your services, this could be a way to add capabilities."

The six-color printer uses a modular ink system allowing operators to swap between dye based and pigment based UV inksets, depending on the image application. Maximum resolution is 1200 x 600dpi. The company rates the printer's top production speed at 569 square feet per hour, while it can produce high quality output at 100 square feet per hour on glossy paper, and 189 square feet per hour on coated media.

With the system's WebAccess remote management feature, users can submit files over the Internet to the printer in the most popular image file formats without the native application or a special driver. "We've paid attention to ways we could improve the workflow and make sure every print produced on the 5500 is sellable and usable," she points out.

With that assurance, lab owners can go out and explore new applications for large-format services. Gramley suggests they should consider photographic output the starting point in wide-format services. "Once the equipment is in place there's other things you can do in large-format, as well.

"Those who survive will take their expertise with color imaging and use it to grow their services to existing customers, as well as attract new customers with the new capabilities of wide-format printing."