By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing
Romans used a picture of a bush to designate a tavern to thirsty passing travellers. Terracotta and stone versions of these signs have survived to this day to prove it. The English in the guise of King Richard II, took the practice a stage further in 1389 when the King decreed that all public houses had to hang a sign outside so that Inspectors could identify them to test the quality of their ale and presumably to tax them! In the course of the last six centuries we have seen a wide variety of English pub signs, ranging from the Kings Head in deference to Richard, through to Red Lions and Cross Keys, all with the same purpose of enticing in the customers.
Of course the whole sign and display market has exploded in recent times as the population across Europe became literate and, after the industrial revolution, wealthier. Suddenly their customers could read and write and the shopkeepers and traders of Europe started to compete for their business.
Today it is not just the sign outside the shop or pub that is used to part us from our money. There is a whole host of other materials: extravagant displays at the tills, shelf “talkers or barkers” extolling the virtues of a particular product, posters in the supermarket aisles and illuminated banners shining out from store windows at night. The sign and display industry has come a long way from Roman times.
The Development of Signs: from Screen to Nanographic Printing®
Many of the companies supplying these products come from a screen printing background. This technology involved the use of material stretched across a frame through which ink was transferred to a variety of paper, plastic and metal substrates, but as the demand for more sophisticated signage grew, the screen printers and other suppliers to the industry found themselves using an increasing variety of different technologies to satisfy demands including lithography, inkjet, xerography and electrophotography.
Today most of the suppliers of sign and display materials have a very well equipped production facility, using whichever technology best suits the particular application or need. They also offer design and studio facilities and employ teams of logistics staff to deliver and install the finished products.
Although they would not class themselves as printers, nevertheless they are experiencing the same pressures and demands. Shorter deadlines, smaller quantities and personalisation are all creating the need for yet another technology to be deployed.
The Debut of Nanographic Printing® Digital Technology at drupa 2012
Landa’s Nanography® process is something many of them are now looking to utilise to satisfy customer demand. Run lengths of fewer than 500 copies in a B1 (41 in. /1050mm) format are quite common. Each store location requires a personalised range of products and of course the delivery times are getting even shorter.
Landa Digital Printing® Presses look set to make the same impact in the sign and digital market as they are making in packaging. We already number point of sale and display producers in our customer base, and in the years to come it’s just possible we might have a Nanographic pub sign!