Flex Tek for Aqueous Wins on Color, Durability & Price

Earlier this year, we launched LexJet Flex Tek 170g for aqueous printers, and it’s turned into a fast favorite among print service providers looking for a cost-effective, easy-handling option for banners.

Photos: Jackson Beverages, La Grange, Ga.

This lightweight, 100% non-woven polyester is finished with a slight embossed texture that gives it the look and feel of a woven fabric, making it an ideal option for both banners and canvas wraps.

At Jackson Beverages in LaGrange, Ga., it’s become the new go-to for short-term outdoor banners.

“Since our primary use of banner/canvas material is outdoor signage, the two most important qualities are water resistance and physical strength in windy weather,” says Jackson Beverages’ Tom Weeks. “Flex Tek’s coating proved to keep the ink colors bright in foul weather and blazing southern sun.”

The polyester base also adds to its durability. “Although it is quite light and easy to handle, it is considerably more tear-resistant than any other non-woven fabric based banner material I have used,” says Weeks, who often finishes Flex Tek with grommets for easy hanging. “My overall impression of Flex Tek is that it is a very good medium for outdoor banners that will hang for less than a year.”

Photo: Orgill

For Vern Goodner, print services manager at Orgill, price was a big concern. Orgill supplies products to 6,000 hardware stores and dealers in more than 60 different countries. Goodner runs the print shop where he produces hundreds of flyers, posters and more for store displays.

Orgill also hosts a 1 million square-foot tradeshow two times per year, in which the company creates multiple mock stores to showcase the latest hardware goods. In these stores, Goodner makes 200 retractable banners, which he has now switched over to Flex Tek.

“I was looking for something with a bright white that gives an eye pleasing to eye popping color,” Goodner says. “And was as affordable as possible.”

At $0.50 per square foot he’s now considering switching all the tradeshow banners to Flex Tek. Both Weeks and Goodner print Flex Tek on Canon imagePROGRAF wide-format aqueous printers.

LexJet Flex Tek 170g Product Highlights:

  • PVC-free / recyclable
  • Versatile media for wall art, banners, gallery wraps
  • Can be grommeted or stitched and used indoors or out
  • Images look great close-up or at long-range viewing
  • Also available: LexJet Flex Tek SUV 200g, compatible with eco-solvent, latex and UV-curable inks

Captured on Canvas: Memories & Moments That Last

When Kathy Ogg first became a mom 23 years ago, she soon realized she wouldn’t be returning to work as she once knew it. Instead, photographing and printing pictures of her kids, now age 4 through 23, became a hobby, then a passion, then a whole new career.

Five years ago, with her original Canon imagePROGRAF 8400 printer, she started Re:Image Printing, perfecting the art of using photos not only taken by professional photographers, but amateurs who were capturing family moments on their cell phones, as well.

A customer’s candid image captured on canvas.

“I’ve worked with a lot of families who thought that Facebook would be the way to store all their pictures and they got rid of their originals,” Ogg says. “But then they realized that once they’re on Facebook, the photos are tiny.”

So Ogg helps families determine which photos would work best as prints on either photo paper or canvas wraps. She’s now upgraded to the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 and is a loyal user of Fredrix 777VWR Vivid Matte Canvas and LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas.

Often, potential clients shy away from canvas wrap prints because they think they need a professional photographer in order to get professional prints made. However, Ogg says, “I’m trying to teach people that cell phone pictures do print really well now — I can blow them up to 24×36-inch canvases. You just have to ask yourself: Does that picture do something to your heart? If so, then it’s worthy to print to a canvas and put on your wall.”

Memories aren’t only photographs. This recipe card is forever remembered on a canvas print.

Ogg moved from Indiana to Winter Garden, Fla., a few years ago, where she now runs a print and canvas wrap shop. When testing the media that she prints to, she looks for consistent results, vivid, accurate colors without a lot of texture and handling without cracking in the corners when stretched on canvas bars.

She’s opted for the canvas wraps because she finds the finished look to be “timeless,” unlike frames that can go out of style and glass that can stick to — and ruin — the printed image. She tops the canvas with a coating for extra protection — gloss coating for landscape images and colors that need a lot of “pop” and satin for family photos.

“Some professional photographers think there’s no way that canvas can reproduce their colors,” she says. “But I just say – why don’t you let me show you. Between the printer and the Fredrix or LexJet canvas, I can guarantee the quality.”

Ogg has also been experimenting with LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric, a removable repositionable self-adhesive product that delivers great image quality, as well.

LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric used for a nursery room mural.

“Print-N-Stick is the most fun material I’ve ever printed to,” she says. “I love how versatile it is, and it will stay up as long as I want it to. It’s truly removable without peeling paint or damaging the wall behind it. It feels more like fabric and really adheres to the texture of the wall.”

Ogg uses Print-N-Stick mostly for her children’s room murals, but is starting to offer it to her customers, too. Between the fun wall murals and canvas wraps, her own home is a reflection of what she can create for clients’ homes. “There’s a reason behind every picture hanging up on my wall,” she says. “I walk in and I’m home — I’m happy and at peace.”

InFuze® Transfer Paper “Well Above” the Competition, Customers Say

For Fort Myers, Fla.-based Bella Signs and Designs, the key to great dye-sublimation output is a high-quality transfer paper that minimizes ghosting — the shadowing effect that commonly happens during a dye-sub transfer.

Earlier this year, we brought the dye-sublimation market four new LexJet InFuze® transfer papers created for specific applications with a microporous ink-receptive coating that provides exceptional performance. Our LexJet InFuze® Apparel Dye Sublimation Paper was just what Bella Signs and Designs was looking for.

“We look for a high-value paper with a tacky surface to ensure minimal ghosting,” says Bella’s Jennifer Fineran. “We also look for a paper that has a quick ink drying time. The InFuze® paper worked very well, as it has reduced the amount of ghosting we have experienced. The quality of the tacky surface is well above that of other paper brands we have used.”

Dye-sub printed t-shirt from Bella Signs and Designs, using LexJet InFuze® Textile Dye Sublimation Paper and Epson SureColor F6200

Bella uses dye-sublimation transfer technology for printing onto polyester t-shirts with Florida-centric fishing and fun-in-the-sun designs.

“In the past, we have outsourced all of our dye-sub printing needs,” Fineran says. “Since purchasing our own printer (the Epson SureColor F6200) and using the InFuze® paper, it has greatly increase our production rate of dye-sub projects.”

Bella offers its customers a wide variety of digital printing services, including vehicle and boat wraps, signs of all kinds, custom apparel and promotional products. The team has used dye-sub specifically for the shirts.

“Dye-sub is definitely becoming more and more common since it provides bright colors and a soft print that is not heavy on the shirt,” Fineran says.

LexJet InFuze® is available in four options:

LexJet InFuze® Multipurpose Dye Sublimation Paper for flexible fabric or rigid substrates, like mugs, promotional items and banners

LexJet InFuze® Textile Dye Sublimation Paper for flexible polyester fabrics for fast fashion, sportswear, banners and soft signage

LexJet InFuze® Apparel Dye Sublimation Paper for elastic-type textiles, like moisture-wicking, quick-dry performance sports apparel

LexJet InFuze® Rigid Substrate Dye-Sublimation Paper for metal panels used for wall art, table tops and high-end photo art

Do You Have a Winning Lineup for Outdoor Graphics?

Now more than any other time of year, outdoor signage and graphics are front and center and in demand. We hold outdoor graphics to higher expectations in terms of durability and longevity, but also in photo and color reproduction and overall strength and visual appeal. We gathered some of our customers’ favorite outdoor products for a variety of applications. Check out this list to find your tried-and-true choices, as well as some new products that you’ve yet to discover:

Although it’s not technically specified for outdoor use, our customers have found that LexJet TOUGHcoat ThriftyBanner can take the heat … and the rain. Photographer Carl Caylor reproduced football player images, shown above, and displayed them on the field in frames attached with BannerUps for an entire football season. “We had a few games with really nasty weather, and they really held up great,” he says. “The ThriftyBanner got wet, but after the game we hung them up to dry, and everything was fine. It was amazing for a product that’s not really rated for outdoor longevity.”

LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl SUV is a tried-and-true outdoor self-adhesive option. It can be used to cover up eyesores, like Spectra Imaging achieved quite stylishly by covering a generator and finishing it with a film laminate for extra outdoor protection, pictured here. Another self-adhesive favorite is LexJet TOUGHcoat AquaVinyl PSA, a go-to choice for durable outdoor signs, like those used for election season yard signs when paired with Coroplast or foam boards. And don’t forget that LexJet now carries a full line of Avery Dennison films and laminates made specifically for long-term outdoor use for vehicles, transit and marine graphics, as well as floors, windows and walls.

Need a lasting window option? We’ve got dozens of window graphics choices, but if it’s a retail space and you want to see through the graphic, a favorite option is LexJet Simple Perforated Window Vinyl (70/30). Because 70% of the surface area is printable, you get great graphic reproduction and color punch with the added benefit of not obstructing the visibility through the window. Compatible with solvent, eco-solvent, UV-curable and latex inks, it’s designed to mount on the exterior of the window and will cleanly remove from the glass within the first year of installation.

Try LexJet Production Display Film SUV for banner stands. If you’ve got a customer request for banner stands that’ll be used outdoors, this is an ideal option for you. Our Production Display Films were a huge success when they launched, and it’s not hard to see why — this true lay-flat option won’t curl on the sides the way some material will, especially when they’ve been displayed for some time. The solvent option means you don’t have to apply a laminate top coat, and it’s super versatile. LexJet Production Display Film SUV is ideal for trade shows when you don’t need it to stand up to the outdoor elements.

If you’ve got dye-sublimation capabilities in your facility, a high-end, durable solution is ChromaLuxe EXT, made specifically to be used outdoors and guaranteed to last up to and beyond three years. These metal panels create stunning, high-end signage or décor with the vivid color reproduction we expect from dye-sub transfers. Stay tuned to our blog for more information and real-life examples featuring ChromaLuxe EXT!

Good, Better, Best: HEYtex Outdoor Banner Material

Summer is here, and that means more outdoor signage jobs for you! When it comes to outdoor banners, the key is long-lasting graphics that can stand up to the elements.

For this installation of our Good, Better, Best series, we’re looking at three excellent outdoor banner options from HEYtex Textiles: HEYtex 13 oz TopazFLX, HEYtex 15 oz Topaz DS and HEYtex 18 oz Pole Banner.

Each of these deliver consistent quality at an affordable price that are compatible with eco-solvent, solvent, UV and latex ink technologies. We chose the matte options for outdoor use to avoid any glare from the sun that you might get when used outside. Let’s dive in to these three options:

GOOD: HEYtex 13 oz TopazFLX — This is an affordable and durable frontlit banner that’s ideal for one-sided printing. While there are other 13 oz options on the market, our partners at HEYtex are known for their highly consistent product with a 1000×1000 denier and 9×9 knitted base material that looks great grommeted for hanging banners.

What users say: “It’s a nice, thick media. The denier count is really high compared to the different vinyl substrates, which is crucial for outdoor signage.”

BETTER: HEYtex 15 oz Topaz DS — A heavier frontlit option with the added value of double-sided printing capabilities, as well as a higher tensile strength and a nice, smooth, matte surface for exceptional print reproduction. Excellent option for a variety of applications, such as the barrier graphic used in a retail space, pictured at top.

What users say: “We definitely needed a durable product that would be tough and hold up to a lot of abuse.”

BEST: HEYtex 18 oz Pole Banner — With a 1,000-by-1,000 woven denier, this pole banner material has a high tensile strength for long-term indoor or outdoor sign and graphic applications. Plus, it’s two-sided printable and provides 100% blockout qualities that makes it the ideal option for pole banners that are viewed whether people are coming or going.

What users say: “The 18 oz offers a very high tensile strength that’s great for printing on both sides. It looks great sewn with pole pockets, as well.”

Liquid Lamination Made Easy with the StarLam Laminator

For print facilities looking to increase speed and consistency in liquid coating applications, the Marabu StarLam Liquid Laminator is the go-to solution for water-based coatings, such as ClearShield Liquid Coatings.

Watch the video above to learn how easy it is to set up the StarLam and get it rolling. The machine can handle a variety of substrates up to 64-inches wide, as well as various coatings, such as Marabu ClearShield for the StarLam.

The StarLam can coat printed substrates for many applications, such as banners, canvas prints, vehicle graphics, wallcoverings, trade shows and more. Because the StarLam includes a heater and roll-to-roll design, the prints are ready to go with a finished, consistent layer of coating that offers the benefits of film lamination at a budget-friendly cost.

Applying coating using the StarLam is designed to be a one-person process, and it speeds up workflow for high-production shops. Plus, the StarLam cleans up in less than 10 minutes — no roller or pail rinsing and cleaning needed.

To learn how to shut down and clean the StarLam, watch the video below. If you have any questions about how to incorporate the StarLam Liquid Laminator in your operation, give a LexJet print specialist a call at 800-453-9538.