Marabu Launches New, More Durable and Versatile Liquid Laminates

For more durable outdoor print protection and more versatile applications, Marabu has announced three new options for water-based liquid laminates. These advanced formulas represent the latest advancements in water-based coating technology with UV inhibitors, and extend the life of the prints while enhancing image quality. The ClearShield brand also boasts a new look and logo!

The three products include:

  • ClearShield Select a new formula, available in gloss, semi-gloss and matte, that provides excellent chemical and scratch resistance on a wide range of printed products, like vinyl, banners and rigid substrates. It’s ideal for roller or spray equipment application.
  • ClearShield Select for StarLam is the ClearShield formula, but with a lower velocity for use with roll-to-roll liquid laminators like the StarLam 1600R on digitally printed vinyl, banners and fleet graphics.
  • ClearShield Professional Transit is designed for the most demanding applications. This two-part system provides the ultimate scratch and abrasion resistance, which is ideal for truck tarpaulins and inflatables.

To learn more about these water-based liquid laminates, connect with a LexJet print specialist at 800-453-9538 today.

Make 2020 the Year You Reach Your Profit Goals

As the last decade was wrapping up, we began looking at 2020 as being full of possibility. But we’re not too naive. We know today’s print service providers are faced with lots of challenges, such as rising wages and benefits costs, pressure to enter new markets, a thin workforce of available, skilled workers and more. So we decided to take a look at two areas where LexJet can help, not just as a materials provider, but a business partner as well.

At the SGIA/Napco Research Key Industry Trends & Insights Research presentation during Printing United, we learned a lot about these challenges. While nearly every sector in the print industry saw growth in sales (yay!), the increase in profits didn’t match up. How could that be? Perhaps investment in equipment, wage increases (and more to come), lost productivity, training up staff in new market segments, or maybe you were paying too much for the wrong products.

One of the startling revelations was PSPs who stated they were “so busy, we don’t have time to figure out what would be profitable.” Yikes! So let’s look into two current, major pain points and see how we can help.

Adding a New Product Line or Entering a New Market

You can diversify the products and services you’re offering your customers, but let’s look at some smart strategies. While it may seem like everyone is jumping into vehicle wraps, ask yourself if you’ve got the proper print technology, installers with experience and product lines you trust. If not, that’s a steep climb before you get out of the red. If you are set up to tackle vehicle wraps, consider starting with simpler applications, such as box trucks, before you get into intricate designs like sports cars.

Inkjet Canvas Decor by MyPix2

Another supplemental market that may have a quicker ramp-up, in terms of production, is décor. This segment covers a pretty wide gamut of applications, from canvas prints to wallcoverings to windows treatments. If you’re in the wide-format space now, you likely have equipment that you can use to expand into décor printing. For instance, if you have an aqueous printer, many materials exist for you to print wall art, such as canvas wraps, fine art reproductions or portraits. Wallcoverings and window graphic materials (like Squid) are decor focused, and can be printed on solvent or latex print technology. Dye-sub printers used for fabric open a new door for upholstery, drapery and more. Your capital expenditure may include finishing tools or machinery, so scope those out and plan accordingly.

Some growing interest in customized décor printing include hotels, restaurants, healthcare facilities and corporate offices, so consider customers you already have in these spaces and market your new capabilities to them!

Combating Material Costs

Another ongoing pain point is material costs. This is always top-of-mind for all of us here at LexJet, as we launch new or next-generation products. We are constantly looking for ways to pass on savings to our customers.

One strategy is to opt for multi-purpose, quality products. When you opt for a “Swiss Army Knife” product, you save on inventory space and production set up time as well as costs savings, much of the time. One such material is FlexTek 170g, also available as FlexTek SUV 200g. FlexTek is a budget-beating, non-woven technical fabric that works in a variety of applications, including wall art, banners and canvas wraps. It can be finished with grommets or it can be sewn or wrapped or folded. It’s recyclable and has a long shelf life — talk about an inventory win-win!

Our print specialists at LexJet can also help you fine-tune your materials and supplemental products that fit into your budget and help your profits soar! Call us today at 800-453-9538.

Three Major Wide-format Trends to Watch in 2020

If you’ve been in wide format printing for a while, or even if you’re new here, you’ve probably noticed that things move pretty quickly in this space, from customer expectations to equipment upgrades to new material launches. These changes, upgrades and improvements are never-ending, so here’s a quick list of what we see as the hot topics to watch as 2020 gets started:

Strategic Convergence. You heard a lot about convergence at Printing United, specifically. There was a wave of chatter about diversifying and jumping into different segments to stay relevant, serving at least two segments, like sign & graphic, apparel or packaging. Sales and profitability were both up the most in 2018 for sign & graphic producers, according to NAPCO Research and SGIA. But when diversifying, businesses may have growing pains from adding staff or lacking focus. Working with a good partner who supplies material as well as education and business consultation is key to helping you make the best decisions of material inventory, equipment upgrades and workflow efficiencies. Get a handle on these issues, and your team can converge strategically.

Environmental Responsibility. If there’s one topic on everyone’s tongues, it’s sustainability. At Printing United, some customers who visited our booth were only interested in eco-friendly material options. There’s a generational divide to keep in mind: While Baby Boomer customers tend to embrace their brand loyalty, Millennials and younger are willing to pay more for products made with sustainability in mind. This is true in the consumer world, and growing increasingly true in the business decisions they make. Our industry is working hard to find ways to make materials from recycled or reclaimed items, like plastic water bottles, and, in turn, ways for those products to be recycled or reused to create a circular economy that the print world hasn’t seen previously. Stay tuned for product releases that are better for the earth so you can plan to market them to the customers who are the most receptive to them.

Increased Competition. This isn’t competition from the sign shop down the street. It’s competition from your own customers, who now have access to lower-priced, entry-level printing equipment that’s allowing them to do their own in-house printing — like retail outlets, schools and more. Combat this by excelling in areas they can’t, such as more complex decor applications that require more intense set up and installation; investment in new technology, like dye-sublimation, which can advance you into textile printing; or offer customization in printing with software that allows your team to use variable data to create unique prints (like these serialized decals). Wow your customers with your experience, craftsmanship and innovation, and they won’t want to do it without you.

Everything You Need to Transform Your Space for the Big Game

Is your town hosting the next big game? For your customers who manage restaurants, bars and other gathering places, help them optimize the opportunity to celebrate the game while prepping their space with fun graphics for windows, walls, floors, tabletops and more.

We’ve hand-selected some of the versatile media products you’ll want to stock up now, before the rush hits your print shop! (Look for the ֍ for super multi-purpose products that work for a variety of jobs.) These easy-to-handle, quick-install products are ideal for these temporary applications:

Indoor Walls, Backlit & Temporary Signage:

LexJet Simple WallCal. A premium matte, semi-rigid white vinyl film that provides exceptional image quality, ease of handling, perfect for contour cutting and won’t curl over time. Simple to print, install and remove wall graphics, murals and decals.

HP Durable Backlit Fabric. An enhanced fabric used to create high-impact displays for retail POP with outstanding image quality when printed with HP Latex Inks. Excellent for indoor signage and backlit displays.

LexJet 8 Mil Absolute Backlit. A translucent, 8-mil polyester film with an instant-dry, matte-finish coating on the front surface of the film produces a super-wide color gamut for brilliant colors and sharp details. Add a pressure-sensitive laminating film to protect the prints while handling.

֍HP Prime Matte Air GR. This matte-finish, intermediate adhesive vinyl offers outstanding image quality and “pop.” The gray removable adhesive is opaque for maximum coverage. This vinyl installs easily with a low-profile air release liner. Also a good option for windows.

Banners, Banner Stands & More:

Ultraflex SuperPrint Plus 13 oz Matte or Gloss. A front-lit banner or billboard material with a smooth front-side finish for picture perfect imaging and an enhanced backside surface for better movement across the print platen and an improved white point.

HP Everyday Blockout Display Film. A heavyweight film at an economical price with a light-blocking opaque layer that prevents show-through so viewers see clean, crisp images.

֍LexJet FlexTek 170g  or FlexTek SUV 200g. Super-versatile media that works for banners, temporary signage and even gallery wraps. The non-woven technical fabric base provides stability and strength for grommets, stitching, wrapping and folding.

֍LexJet Satin Poster Paper 200g. A PVC-free, indoor sign and poster paper with a bright white satin finish that produces richly detailed posters and water-resistant prints. It’s ideal for poster and POS signage applications and compatible with most over laminates and protective coatings for more durable indoor and short-term outdoor applications.

Windows, Floors & Exterior Walls: 

LexJet Simple Perforated Window Vinyl 70/30. Produce see-through window graphics that attract attention and increase store traffic. The 70% printable area, 30% open area pattern, and 1.5 mm hole size is an ideal combination for producing eye-catching prints that do not obstruct visibility.

֍panoRama Walk & Wall. The ultimate one-step solution for indoor and outdoor floors, walls and more. Repositionable and durable, with no lamination required. Slip resistant and sticks to almost any surface: tile, glass, carpet, metal, sidewalks, etc.

HP Grip Matte Polymeric Air. An aggressive, high-tack adhesive is the ideal choice when mounting to rough surfaces or demanding low-energy plastics. Save time during installation with double-sided, lay-flat, air release liner for easy, bubble-free installation.

Menu Boards & Countertops:

֍HP Optimal Gloss Air GRP. A premium polymeric calendered vinyl that provides stunning print performance. The gray repositionable adhesive provides opacity to achieve the desired hiding power on multiple surfaces. Very versatile product that works for indoor and outdoor signage, fleet graphics, windows, retail displays, decals and more.

Magnum Magnetic DigiMag Matte or Gloss. A versatile magnetic substrate allows you to print directly to magnet without the need to over-laminate. The material can be cut to any shape with cutters, plotters, or even a pair of scissors.

Vehicles & Transit:

Avery MPI 1105 Series. A premium gloss opaque vinyl designed for use in fleet marking and vehicle wrap as well as corporate identity applications. Superior conformability to irregular surfaces such as compound curves and corrugations.

General Formulations MetroMark Transit Vinyl. A flexible matte opaque vinyl with a removable adhesive. Applications include bus kings, queens and tail posters as well as many short and long term removable graphics.

More Space-Transforming Ideas:

LexJet Promo-Point Table Tents. Printable media for any laser printer that can take up to 12.9 in. material widths. Made for high visual impact, and used at the point of sale for bars, grills and restaurants. Each sheet produces three full-bleed table tents.

LexJet Promo-Point Decals. New and improved decals that adhere to any smooth surface and remove without leaving residue. Available in a multitude of different finishes and looks for use on laser printers for water and fade resistance.

5 Products that Changed the Game for Wide Format in 2019

In 2019, we looked to the market and our customers to find the gaps we could fill with problem-solving product innovations. As a company that marked its 25th anniversary this year, we’ve built our foundation on finding new ways to help our customers thrive. As the year comes to an end, we take a look back at some of the product launches customers and the industry asked for.

In case you didn’t catch them previously, here’s a look at five new media products that changed the game for the wide-format industry:

Squid, for High-End Window Graphics. Likely one of the most buzz-worthy products of the year, Squid is a self-adhesive, printable window textile that offers an elegant-looking alternative to window films that is more environmentally friendly and provides privacy while blocking the sun’s rays. With several color bases that range from a light Chalk to a dark Coal, Squid can be used alone or enhanced with eco-solvent or UV-curable print. In November, we announced that the Chalk version of Squid is now available for Latex printers.

Fredrix Metallic Canvas in Pearl and Gold. Maybe you didn’t think you needed a metallic-based canvas product, but now that it’s here, we don’t think there’s any going back. Before Fredrix dreamed up these dreamy canvases, the only option for creating a metallic gallery wrap was to use a wallcovering product, with dubious effect when wrapping it around those stretcher bars. Today, we’ve got Fredrix Metallic Pearl, which provides a glamorous, iridescent base that puts print jobs like bridal portraits in a whole new stratosphere. The Fredrix Metallic Gold is a showy option that looks amazing with rich, black inks. It also took the 2019 SGIA Product of the Year for Media – Textile – Canvas.

Dye-sub Fisher Textiles in Wide-Format Sizes. With the introduction of wide-format width dye-sub printers hitting the market from the likes of Epson and HP, the industry was in need of some quality dye-sub fabrics in the right widths. Until we partnered with Fisher Textiles, there weren’t many options. We brought right-sized rolls to the industry for a variety of applications, such as flags, soft signage, table skirts, drapery, banners, backdrops and much more.

New Sunset SUV Fine Art for Large Runs. As the preferred printer technologies in the market begin to shift to eco-solvent, we’re finding a bigger need for traditionally aqueous-based media to be re-formulated. Where better to start than with the fine-art segment? We introduced Sunset SUV Fine Art Paper 210g for high-volume art and photography reproductions at a cost-conscious price. For customers loyal to aqueous inks, we also launched Sunset Hot Press Smooth Bright White and Sunset Cold Press Textured Bright White papers to give them another budget-friendly, high-quality option.

High-Tack HP Grip Matte for Stickier Situations. All year we’ve seen the relatively new HP Adhesive Vinyl portfolio of products become customer favorites. Yet, the line was missing a high-tack option that could be used on hard-to-stick-to surfaces, such as trash cans and other low-energy plastics. So we brought on HP Grip Polymeric Air with its aggressive, high-tack clear adhesive, which works on rough surfaces as well as low-energy, while providing an easy, bubble-free installation.

Do you have any product favorites from 2019? Tell us in the comments below, or let us know what other solutions you’ve been looking for.

Easy Variable Data Printing with HP Print & Cut + SAi Flexi

Looking for a quick way to use variable data in your next print project? When the Suncoast Jeep Festival asked us to create 500 numbered decals for their event, we opted for an easy software and print-and-cut solution to get the job done.

Each Jeep that entered the event needed to be tagged with a decal, and each needed its own number, which was to be displayed on the windshield. We chose HP Latex Print & Cut Solution, which comes with SAi FlexiPRINT RIP software that makes variable data printing a breeze. For the decals, we chose to print on HP Optimal Gloss Air GRP, which has a removable and repositionable adhesive.

In the video above, we provide easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions on how to set up your design file for auto-serialization numbering, as well as marking cut-lines for kiss-cuts and perforations, to illustrate how fast and simple making these decals was.

Working in tandem with the HP Latex Print & Cut system, the Flexi RIP software creates a barcode during the printing process, and the cutter will read and recognize this barcode, and is then programmed to know the exact pattern to cut and perforate — no additional programming is needed when moving the print job to the cutter.

While we chose a simple number serialization project, the Flexi RIP software could be used to swap out photos, graphics, logos or anything else to create individual or personalized prints for labels, decals or whatever your customer can dream up!

For more information about working with variable data, give a LexJet print specialist a call at 800-453-9538.