Adding School Spirit to Gym Mats with HEYtex Vinyl

In the world of wide-format printing, there’s almost no limit to what can be printed, wrapped, mounted … you name it. So, when a high school superintendent approached Logan Merz of Merz Ink in Auburn, NE, to reupholster the padded mats that line the gymnasium wall, Merz turned to LexJet for a solution.

Merz decided on HEYtex 15 oz TopazDS as the ideal scrim banner to not only produce great images of the school’s Eagles mascot, but it could also stand up to the wear-and-tear the mats would endure during basketball games.

In his Flexi RIP software, Merz set up each of the seven 24-inch panels with an 8-inch bleed. “That gave us enough to wrap around and still stay in line with the next panel,” he says. “Then we just stapled them to the boards … pretty straight forward.”

The heavier vinyl with a smooth matte surface was the ideal finish to wrap around the plywood and foam padding. “It definitely had to be a durable product,” Merz says. “The kids will be running into it all the time, so we needed something that would be tough and hold up to a lot of abuse. I’ve never printed on a banner that heavy, but we were able to just upholster it around the old mats.”

HEYtex 15 oz TopazDS is compatible with both latex and solvent printers; and Merz had purchased an HP Latex 330 a few years ago when he and his wife, Emilie, took over the company, which at the time, only offered screen printing.

“I really wanted to get into wide-format printing,” Merz says. “So we went from printing t-shirts to printing all kinds of wide format.” His shop now specializes in car wraps, banners, signs, logo work and more. “Since we took over ownership four years ago, we’ve almost doubled our business. The latex printer made up a significant part of that,” he says.

Prints that Win: A Calculating Commander

Armonk, New York photographer June Greenspan has spent her professional career trying to capture people and their passions. Fascinated by diverse occupations and interests, Greenspan spends her time photographing the unique individuals she encounters. “Most of my work is from my travels, and the people I see when I travel,” she says. “I am a people photographer.”

When visiting Gettysburg with her husband, she spotted a reenactor dressed as a confederate soldier. In that moment, she wondered why the man was there and knew she had to photograph him. “I became like a director,” Greenspan explains, giving him directions on how to pose.  The result of this encounter: a Sunset Print Award in Master Artist category at the North-East District PPA print competition for her piece, “A Calculating Commander.”

Streamlining Art Reproduction with the Epson S80600

No matter what size the print facility, efficient workflow, speed and quality are always top of of mind. The same holds true for Josh King, who runs Sacramento Giclee, a five-person shop that works primarily with artists who need scanning, reproduction and custom framing of their artwork.

Sacramento Giclee reproduced an acrylic painting for a canvas wrap.

“We’re a custom print shop, and we do everything from capturing originals to printing, installing, shipping and framing,” King says. “We also do some big jobs for hospitality or healthcare where we might do 200 prints.”

As his business has grown, King has explored new ways to speed up production while maintaining quality, and last September he decided to pair an Epson SureColor S80600 64-inch solvent printer with the two aqueous printers in his operation.

Front & Back Thermal Laminates Protect Posters at the Right Price

For many of us, running to catch a plane leaves little time to stroll through airport retail outlets, but inevitably, there’s that long layover … or the delayed flight. That’s when we end up meandering over to the shops. And to entice our purchases, posters beckon us in with deals and specials.

Chances are, those posters were printed at Paradies Lagardere Travel Retail‘s busy Atlanta printing operation, where the team turns out hundreds of posters and other signage every month that’s displayed in airports all over the U.S. and Canada.

While the signs are replaced each month, they still need to get the job done, says Wade Ervin, who heads up the printing jobs. “Everything is constantly changing,” he says. “That sign goes up in front of an airport gift shop, and after the 30-day sale is over, it gets thrown away.”

3D Prints on a Wide-Format Printer? Thanks to Lumii, Now You Can

In anticipation of the impending 3D content that’s sure to hit our smart phones, cameras and web browsers in the coming years, the clever minds at the Boston-based start-up, Lumii, have developed a way to print 3D photos on films using a standard aqueous wide-format printer.

“When we look at the next generation of content, we believe it’s going to be 3D content,” says Lumii CEO and founder Tom Baran. “When we talk to printers about it, they get very excited about the prospect of using the equipment they’ve already invested in.”

Baran, along with Matt Hirsch, Lumii CTO and founder, collaborated while pursuing their Ph.D.s at MIT to develop the technology that makes the 3D prints possible. Using light field technology, Lumii creates unique patterns from 3D scans or photos and then prints those patterns on two films — one clear and one translucent — to create the 3D effect once the layers are joined. When those prints are lit from behind, the 3D image pops out even more.

The key, Hirsch and Baran say, is using very high-resolution printers and the right materials. When searching for their translucent film for the rear layer of the 3D prints, they inquired at a local print shop, which is where they discovered LexJet 8 Mil Absolute Backlit film.

“We did a very unconventional analysis in that we looked at [the backlit film] under a microscope,” Hirsh says. “We looked at: How well does it hold ink; does it have the right opacity; did it bleed, etc. We tried a variety of things, and we really like the way this backlit performs.”

Although Lumii is still in its early stages, the plan is to offer their 3D prints to customers who upload their own 3D files to an ecommerce site. Lumii will then manage the fulfillment of those orders by working with print shops that have the right type of printer and use Absolute Backlit and other qualified products.

Possible applications for the technology could be endless — bus stop signage, movie theater posters and promotional graphics, to name a few. Hirsch and Baran certainly see digital décor, interior design and art installations as big potential, as well.

“It’s interesting how there’s a lot of room to add value in the print world that’s yet to be tapped,” Baran says. “Especially when you couple that with this massive 3D content that’s going to grow exponentially over the next five years.”

Check out another recent example in this video:

Made in the Shade: Fine Art Paper Adds an Artsy Finish

Getting a glimpse into Michael Macone’s world is a crafty art-lover’s dream. Macone runs The Potter’s Shed in Shell Lake, Wis., a cool art gallery-meets cafe-meets do-it-yourself art space-meets music venue. “It’s 50,000 square feet of art fun,” he says. He also runs Macone Clay, where he creates all sorts of clay projects including lamps, bowls, cups, plaques and much more.

One of Macone’s most popular items is the artsy lamps, which are almost entirely created in-house. The wood base is made in the woodshop, the body is extruded clay that’s manipulated while it’s still wet. The shade is printed on LexJet Sunset Textured Fine Art Paper 310g.

When he first began making the lamps, he was purchasing shades from a home supply store and hand-painting each one. “That was a lot of fun for a while … but the painting was arduous and stressful,” he says. “We had to be careful not to over-saturate the paint, and eventually it turned into a big bother rather than fun.”

But the lamps, which sell for $225, were gaining popularity, and he needed a solution. That’s when he came across printed lamp shades at a wholesale event, and decided to give it a try. “It was a big learning curve getting the template in the digital realm, but we figured it out,” he says. He was working with a different brand of paper, which was fine, he says, but his LexJet rep introduced him to the Textured Fine Art Paper, and he made the switch.

“It ended up being thicker and felt better on the frame,” Macone says. “It looked noticeably better, which surprised us. When we compared it – the color just snapped more.”

Macone’s lamp shade designs start sometimes as pencil sketches or photos or paintings that he manipulates in Photoshop to get the final design that pairs best with the lamp’s body, which is painted and enhanced with melted glass that drips elegantly down the edge.

He offers four lamp base styles and 20 shade options, and sells about 500 lamps a year through YouNeedArtNow.com, in The Potter’s Shed gallery and at art fairs around the country.

A long-time LexJet customer, Macone also uses his Epson wide-format printer to create collages with sweet artwork and sayings that are adhered to wooden plaques. For those, he opts for LexJet Premium Archival Matte Paper, which he finishes with a UV coating that he also utilizes for the lamp shades.

“It’s a good quality photo paper that we’ve been using for a couple of years,” he says. “We always have lots of colors [in our designs] and just have a lot of fun with the art.”