Opportunities abound for shops with white-ink capabilities.
Last March, Freije made a strategic investment in the Inca Onset S20 UV flatbed with white-ink capability. The flatbed prints directly to media up to two-inches thick and as large as 5 x 10 feet. The white-ink option now makes it possible for his shop to produce 4-color, no matter what the original color of the substrate.
“We’re now able to tell people if they want something on acrylic or glass in color we can do it,” says Freije, citing one of the most obvious advantages. “We can compete against screen printing for short runs up to 1000 pieces, and we can also do variable printing” on those longer runs.
In the year or so since installing the printer, Matrix has utilized white ink for lenticular printing, direct printing to acrylic and glass, and to produce custom carpeting. All work is done using Fujifilm Sericol inks.
Although awareness of white-ink printing is growin, demand is still limited, Freije notes. “Even with all the interest, only five to 10 percent of our work actually requires the white-ink capability. Some people are educated about what white ink means, but a lot still aren’t. It’s up to my salespeople now to explain to clients what can be done with white ink.”
At the same time, the company is doing its part to develop new markets for its white-ink capabilities. “We’re always trying to find little niches where we can offer something different, and we hope this will be one of them,” Freije explains.
One example of Matrix’s niches: Madd Mats, officially launched in January with its own website (matriximaging.net), which offers custom-printed floor and counter mats on a durable clear or translucent polyurethane material. Freije came across the substrate while wandering the aisles at the SGIA Expo. The bottom side is smooth while the top side is offered embossed with a diamond plate or coin pattern, or also smooth. Graphics or text are printed on the back side of each panel.