Why dye-sublimation tech is ideal for cost-effective photo souvenirs
by Cliff Reeves, US and International Sales Manager, DNP Imagingcomm America Corporation
For the attractions industry, merchandising the guest experience represents a significant opportunity for improving bottom lines and maintaining steady growth. One of the leading opportunities is the print photography souvenir package. High quality printed images with a branded, custom border or folder/frame are among the best selling souvenir items at parks around the world.
ABOVE: DNP printers on the White House lawn for the 2016 Easter Egg Roll.
Consumer technology over the last ten years, such as the smartphone, makes it easier than ever to capture, share, and access photos. However, the general consumer and park/attractions visitor cannot easily move photos off their screens and onto their walls or refrigerator at home, especially photos of high quality. This increases the value of a physical print created on-demand.
[quote]Park operators also need to be able to produce prints quickly before a guest loses interest, and dye-sublimation printers are the fastest photo printers available. “[/quote]
That’s not to say digital images are of no value to customers.
Digital files are a great complement to a printed image and can be offered as a value add-on for customers purchasing a souvenir package. But the printed package represents the best value for the guest and also the biggest return on investment for park and attractions operators. Because consumers print far fewer images than in the past, these high quality, unique images have great value.
Printing for profit
From the capture device to the printer output, the technology behind cost-effective print photo souvenirs is critically important. For a photo printing souvenir station, the implementation of professional-grade dye-sublimation photo printers is an absolute must.
What is dye-sublimation photo printing?
The two most widely used photo printing methods available are inkjet and dye-sublimation. Inkjet printers spray droplets of ink onto specially coated papers, whereas dye-sublimation printers use a dry technique that diffuses dye onto paper. This dye comes in the form of a ribbon, which is converted into a gas by a heated print head and absorbed by a special receiving layer on the paper. The special paper and ribbon are called printing media.
During the dye-sublimation printing cycle, heating elements on the print head change temperature rapidly, laying different amounts of dye (depending on the amount of heat applied) on the paper. After repeating this process several times, a final transfer lays laminate over the top protecting the print from ultraviolet light, fingerprints, and moisture.
Why dye-sublimation? (quality, speed, cost, maintenance) Dye-sublimation printing offers several advantages for park operators, including an impressively low total cost of ownership (hardware, software, and media) thanks to minimal maintenance needs, high margins, and speed. When it comes to printing via dye-sublimation, the price per print remains consistent, regardless of content, since there are no expensive ink cartridges to refill. Dye-sublimation media prices generally don’t fluctuate and are shipped to produce hundreds of prints in a single box.
Unlike ink technologies, there is no smudging, running, or blotching because prints are dry and ready to touch as soon as they leave the printer. Dye-sublimation prints are also resistant to fingerprints, dust and fading, and typically are available in glossy or matte finishes.
Like any business owner, park operators inevitably face maintenance issues. At theme and amusement parks those costs can be especially high. An inkjet printer’s thermal print head sweeps back and forth over the paper; a dye-sublimation printer’s does not. The benefit: in dye-sublimation printing, there are fewer moving parts that can break – minimizing downtime and ensuring photo operations are producing prints without delay.
Park operators also need to be able to produce prints quickly before a guest loses interest, and dye-sublimation printers are the fastest photo printers available. They can print full-bleed customized images in a matter of seconds, ensuring every print is ready and available for purchase before a ride is over.
With available space at a premium throughout parks, it’s important to ensure printing solutions are compact and won’t compromise an area that could be used for other revenue-generating assets. Dye-sublimation technology offers high-output in a small footprint, perfect for photo booths and concessions. Versatility is also critical, and here, too, dyesublimation printers deliver — most are capable of producing several different print sizes without changing out hardware.
Dye-sublimation printing is also the industry standard for photo booths, green screens, and any photo print merchandising opportunity where quality and speed are required. • • •
Real-world success stories
For over 50 years, Cashman Photo has been the premier provider of shoot-and-print souvenir photography services for many of the most prestigious hotels, casinos, and entertainment venues throughout Las Vegas, including the Stratosphere thrill ride.
After relying on wet printing processes since their inception, the company recently upgraded all its photo labs with approximately 250 DNP dye-sublimation dry photo printers. Spec printing high quality photos at a profitable price point was a key factor in Cashman’s search for a dry solution for their labs.
By switching to a dry solution the company not only improved its costs-per-print but also their sustainability, an initiative to which Cashman and its clients on the Strip are committed. After carefully comparing the energy consumption, operational costs, and environmental factors associated with the wet process machines to a dry solution, DNP’s dye-sublimation printers became the clear choice.
Vegas Off-Road Experience
When the Vegas Off-Road Experience (VORE) wanted to offer souvenirs of adrenaline-infused adventures, it chose DNP’s DS40 high speed, high quality photo printer. VORE recently began offering photo packages to help capture their unique experience.
As the photography packages became a key revenue component, the company needed a printer that could produce high quality images quickly and cost-effectively. Since implementing the DNP dye-sublimation printer VORE has seen a 10-percent increase in revenue.
Hot Shots Imaging
Hot Shots Imaging handles photo concessions for some of the most beloved landmarks and tourist attractions across the country, including the Hoover Dam. The company provides photo souvenir stations that offer visitors specialized memorabilia that are printed directly on-site as a complete photo package. To meet the needs of their extensive photo printing services, Hot Shots Imaging deploys DNP’s dye-sublimation printers to provide exceptional image quality at unparalleled speeds.
Controlling the flow of visitors to the sales stations is vital to the success of Hot Shots’ operations. The DS40s print at a very high rate, with 4”x6” photos produced in under nine seconds, ensuring they are able to sell, print, and package memorabilia before the next group of visitors finishes its tour.
3db Solution Inc.
Specializing in the development of digital photo systems for the amusement park and attractions industry, 3db Solution Inc. has capitalized on the growing demand for instant photo souvenirs at attractions throughout Canada and the United States. In addition to photo souvenirs for amusement park rides, the Quebec-based company also develops computerized photo systems for photo booths, haunted houses, zoos, and other entertainment attractions.
To ensure customers receive a high quality souvenir with near-instant speed, 3db Solution Inc. integrates DNP’s dye-sublimation photo printers into every photo system it installs. By integrating DNP dye-sublimation photo printers into their systems, 3db Solution Inc. offers high quality images with custom borders at a price many park visitors find hard to resist.