Print Perspectives

Retail signage printing the productive way

The KODAK ASCEND Digital Press: Bringing greater speed and production capabilities to the retail signage sector

June 27, 2022

KODAK ASCEND back to school sign

Signage is ubiquitous and unmissable in all areas of retail – from shopping malls, fashion stores, supermarkets and convenience stores to home improvement stores, food outlets and many other retail outlets. As a component of the store environment and part of the store’s interior design, retail and point-of-purchase (POP) signage fulfills various functions.

Retail signage provides product information in concentrated form and allows customers to navigate through a store without assistance from sales staff. Above all, retail signage represents a cost-effective and appealing advertising and marketing medium for retailers. It helps them direct shoppers to the products they want to sell to them. And of course, retailers know that attractive signage is also a branding tool to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

A globally growing market

Retail and POP signage is experiencing steady growth worldwide. A recent study by market research firm Fact. MR[1] predicts an average annual growth rate of 4-6% for retail signage through to 2031. While digital signage is well-known as a strong growth driver, print signage, too, continues to be on the rise.

Printed in-store signage and POP displays can be produced flexibly and in the most diverse sizes and designs. They can be set up or installed quickly and easily in retail outlets, making no special demands on the location and, unlike digital signage, consuming zero energy. What’s more, printed retail signage today effortlessly bridges the gap to the digital marketing world. All consumers have to do is scan a printed QR code using their smartphone to gain access to essential product or company information in no time – invaluable support for the customer journey directly on the sales floor.

High-performance alternative to signage production on large format inkjet devices

Frequently changing images and designs, short runs, a wide variety of sizes and substrate types coupled with short lead times for production are typical requirements of the retail signage printing business. These applications are often produced on large format UV inkjet printing systems. However, such systems print slowly, and the production of smaller in-store signage and POP displays with these devices is quite costly. Productions of this type are one of the main advantages of the new KODAK ASCEND Digital Press. The electrophotographic (EP) digital press is based on an extremely robust platform from Kodak that is capable of reliable high-quality production of millions of impressions per month.

ASCEND Digital Press is an ideal, cost-effective solution for retail signage, not least because it can print sheets up to 1,219 mm long at speeds up to 572 m2 per hour (5,280 sqft/hour). Equally important for signage applications is ASCEND’s compatibility with a very wide range of substrates. The press is especially versatile – suited for printing on uncoated as well as matte and glossy coated papers and board stock – including recycled materials – and a whole range of special substrates. The materials can be up to 762 microns thick or have a weight of up to 687 g/m2.

The advantages of combined high-quality printing and in-line print embellishment

Another outstanding feature of the ASCEND Digital Press is its fifth imaging unit. This enables the press to print one of a total of 13 available eco- friendly specialty inks in one pass, in addition to the new KODACHROME Dry Inks for CMYK process colors. This allows special color or finishing effects to be achieved, producing vibrant and striking retail signage. These inks include Orange, Gold, White, Clear and Foil Dry Inks to name just a few. Not only does KODACHROME Foil Dry Ink enable a multitude of true foil effects, it also greatly reduces costs with foil used only where you need it, instead of covering expensive foil board with expensive white ink. The specialty inks can be placed in the first, second or fifth imaging unit of the press, which enables ASCEND Press to meet production requirements for different ink sequences.

Whether it's larger overhead signage or posters, smaller shelf signage or counter displays –reproducing brand colors accurately is critical in retail signage applications. ASCEND’s high gamut KODACHROME Dry Inks are capable of achieving more than 90% of the PANTONE library with just CMYK, allowing the extra imaging unit to focus on embellishments and special effects. And if that shouldn’t suffice, one of the specific KODACHROME Custom PMS Colors can be used as the fifth color.

Overall, ASCEND’s electrophotographic technology enables many more print enhancement and embellishment opportunities than comparable inkjet solutions in the market. Printers can therefore use the press to produce a wide range of highly profitable signage much more cost-effectively than with a large-format UV inkjet system.

Additional retail applications beyond signage

In addition to signage production, ASCEND Digital Press can handle commercial jobs for the retail space, such as promotional leaflets and flyers, discount coupons and other printed matter. These applications can be printed at high throughput and with top quality. As the press has four standard feeders for different paper types and sheet sizes in addition to the long sheet feeder for thick substrates, such applications can be run in quick succession with signage production.

“With the ASCEND Digital Press, Kodak offers signage service providers and in-house signage departments of retail chains an efficient printing solution that sets standards with its versatility, quality and productivity,” commented Jeff Zellmer, Vice President, Global Sales and Strategy, Kodak. “The combination of high-quality full color printing and a wide range of print embellishment options in a single, easy-to-use machine makes ASCEND an extremely attractive investment.”

[1] Retail Signage Market, https://www.factmr.com/report/retail-signage-market

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