5 Printing Trends to Watch in 2018

Welcome to 2018! As we begin the new year, we take a look at what’s hot now in wide-format printing and what’s going to gain traction in the coming months. Our team provided insight on what they see as the growing trends for 2018, so we can help you be prepared with the media and equipment you need to meet your customers’ evolving demands.

1. Digital Keeps Growing: During the past two decades, we were at the forefront as digital took the lead in the graphics, photography and signage markets. Now, we’re watching digital printing make new inroads in industries that range from décor to flexible packaging. In the same way digital printing made signage faster and more customized than technologies of the past, we’re going to see that advantage work for short-run, super customized, more quickly produced fabrics for applications such as signage, upholstery, drapery, bedding, accessories, fast fashion and much more.

Kornit Allegro roll-to-roll digital fabric printing system

Because digital allows a file to print directly to a substrate without expensive plate setup, short- or even micro-runs are a whole new possibility for fabric, specifically. With these shorter run possibilities, we anticipate more fabric printing here in the U.S., rather than mass production off-shore that equates to tons of inventory on shelves here. One-off digital printing means your customers no longer need to stock all that inventory from overseas.

VIDEO: Insider Tips for Rolling Coatings on Canvas

If you’re in the business of printing canvas, you likely understand the importance of adding a coating to aqueous-printed canvas media. A coating stops the canvas from cracking and provides consistent results when stretching the finished piece.

Even if you’re using solvent or latex ink, a coating is not necessary, but it can be helpful to create a certain look, like a satin or glossy finish that can intensify colors in the finished print.

A favorite application process is with a simple roller, which works great with Sunset Gloss and Sunset Satin Coatings.

Save Like a Winner on Sunset Select Matte Canvas

Now’s the time to stock up on best-selling Sunset Select Matte Canvas, the award-winning bright-white, poly/cotton blend canvas that provides gold medal-worthy consistency and color gamut for fine art reproduction and photo printing.

Get your game on now to be prepared for the upcoming holiday seasonal demand for photo reprints and custom canvas wraps. Through August, Sunset Select Matte Canvas is 25% off when you order through your LexJet rep at 800-453-9538 or by ordering online.

Product highlights:

  • Acid-free, pH-neutral coating and high white point for consistent, accurate colors
  • Water-resistant poly/cotton blend for greater durability and ease in stretching
  • Heavyweight (408gsm) bright white matte canvas with an Oxford 2 over 1 weave

Sunset Select Matte Canvas, a 2010 Hot One Award winner, works with aqueous inks and is compatible with printers from Canon, Epson and HP. SHOP NOW

Top Tips: DIY Spray Booth and Easy Canvas Coating

If you’re a photographer or fine-art printer, chances are you produce a lot of canvas prints. And with that, the need to apply a protective coating, which can be messy and expensive.

However, you don’t need to set aside a large space or spend a lot on a spray booth. In fact, we’ve created a guide to show you how to build a three-sided spray booth for less than $70, that can be accomplished in an afternoon using PVC pipe and plastic sheeting.

You can see the booth in action in the video above, which illustrates the application of Sunset Satin Coating using a high-volume, low-pressure spray gun. To see how easy it is to build a DIY spray booth, check out the video below. You can download a PDF with all of the detailed instructions HERE.

When It Comes to Coating, It’s All About Attitude

“Urbanitis” is a non-digital image taken by photographer Josh Mitchell, who says it was achieved with “one crazy reflection.” Photo courtesy of Josh Mitchell


Commercial and fine art photographer Josh Mitchell isn’t afraid of experimenting. In fact, it’s a necessary ingredient in his artistic process. So when LexJet re-released its Sunset Gloss Coating and Sunset Satin Coating, it took some trial and error, but Springfield, Mo.-based Mitchell established a tried-and-true method for getting great results. The key? A fearless attitude.

“With the new chemistry change in the coatings in the fall of 2014, it’s not the same and has to be handled a little bit differently,” Mitchell says. “The goal is one coat. Particularly with the new coating, you want to put it on thicker and faster. You have to be fearless and have an attitude.”

When the next generation of Sunset coatings were released in November 2014, the non-yellowing, pH-neutral water-based acrylic coatings were reformulated to be NMP-free to comply with state and local safety and health regulations. Mitchell, a long-time LexJet customer, says he’s got a “good handle on the combination of LexJet materials and coatings,” since he’s conducted quite a bit of his own testing.

In a fine art application, Mitchell says he seeks to avoid a “plastic-y” look, which is why the single coat application is crucial. “Two coats would be so thick,” he says. “You want to do one coat and let it dry down to a semi-gloss feeling.”

While the coatings can be applied with a brush, roller, or spray, Mitchell’s application tool of choice is a foam roller. The coatings do not need to be diluted or mixed, so they can go right on and spread with the roller. “It goes on thick, and then I roll it out,” Mitchell says.

When coating a large canvas, Mitchell does one section at a time since “this new coating will start to set up fast … much faster than the old coating … you’ve got to keep moving.” While there may be appear to be a hazy finish with streaks when first applied, Mitchell says they’ll disappear to a nice, clear coating.

“You have to have an attitude. Walk up to the canvas and know it’s going to dry down and be OK. Now attack!” he says. “When you’re done, walk away and don’t look back.”

Mitchell’s experiments didn’t stop after the initial application. Once the coated canvases were dry, he set about trying to destroy them.

“The LexJet coating has passed any test I’ve thrown at it,” he says. “I’ve been in 100-degree heat with rolled-up coated canvases, and they do not melt. I’ve been in 0-degree weather, and they do not crack. I’ve submerged coated canvases under water, wrapped them around models, and put them under water for swimsuit-like ads and art. I’ve tried high-pressure garden hoses and sprayed the canvas. It holds up great.”

For those new to using the coatings, Mitchell says, “You cannot give up. I have found that the LexJet coatings will stand up to whatever creative abuse I can come up with. But I know when I’m on the road and I pull out that canvas and unroll it on a buyer’s table, it’s going to make a nice impression.”

“The Unfolding Moment” by Josh Mitchell. Photo courtesy of Josh Mitchell

Next-Generation Sunset Coatings for Canvas Now Available

Fine Art Print by Color Simulation Service with Sunset Gloss Coating
Randy Orgeron of Color Simulation Service found that Sunset Gloss Coating was easy to work with – it doesn’t set up too fast or too slow and self-levels – even on a large canvas piece, like this 18″ x 54″ fine art reproduction on Sunset Select Matte Canvas.

The next-generation Sunset Gloss Coating and Sunset Satin Coating are now in stock and shipping from LexJet’s Nationwide Delivery Network. The popular coatings have been reformulated to improve canvas coating performance with consistent results that can be applied with a brush, roller or spray.

Sunset Gloss Coating and Sunset Satin Coating are non-yellowing, pH-neutral water-based acrylic coatings that are self-leveling and ready-to-use straight from the easy-to-pour, easy-to-store containers.

Randy Orgeron of Color Simulation Service, Thibodaux, La., provided detailed feedback when he tested the updated formulation of Sunset Gloss Coating on Sunset Select Matte Canvas. Among his findings, Orgeron noted:

  • It rolls on easily with a foam roller
  • There do not seem to be any issues with it gunking up and it lays flat from the offset
  • Initially, the coating turns hazy, like car wax prior to buffing, but becomes crisp and clear
  • There were some bubbles that formed during application; however, once completely dry that concern proved to be unwarranted
  • The finish is gorgeous and really articulates the print, and there were no issues with the coating lifting the ink off the canvas

“The piece I tried this on at first was only an 11×14 canvas. Since the coating tends to set up rather quickly I was interested to see how fast I would have to work to cover a large canvas, and if could go back over missed spots on the first application,” adds Orgeron. “I’ve used other brands that dry so quickly you can only use them on smaller prints. With the Sunset Coating I found that you can keep working it after you apply it, so it’s going to be very effective for all of our prints, large or small.”

Other improvements to Sunset Coatings include:

  • Greater UV protection
  • Increase solid content so you get more coverage out of one container
  • NMP-free to comply with state and local safety and health regulations

Call a LexJet print specialist today at 800-453-9538 to find out more and to order the new Sunset Coatings.