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

Sunset Bright Velvet Rag for Perfectly Distressed Edges

For Oklahoma photographer Kimberly Smith, 2017 was quite the year; not only did she take home a Sunset Print Award for her entry “The Beauty of Innocence” in the Southwest PPA regionals, but in February, she was presented with the 1st Place prize for the 2017 National Sunset Print Award at Imaging USA.

To create her signature style in these winning images, Smith uses LexJet Sunset Bright Velvet Rag 315g with distressed edges that create a fine art finish to her work.

In quite the follow-up to 2017, Smith won another Sunset Print Award in the 2018 Southwest PPA District, and she stepped to the head of the class for the first time to teach a group of students about the art of black-and-white photography … as well as her favorite deckled-edge finishing technique.

While preparing her curriculum, Smith wanted to include the distressed technique for her students. “I want to print out a few different images for them to practice tearing the edges,” she said. Of Sunset Bright Velvet Rag, she says “the thickness (of the paper) means the tears on the edges are perfect for a soft, multi-layered look.”

Sunset Bright Velvet Rag is a 20-mil thick (315g) 100% rag paper with a velvet surface. The bright white finish is the perfect complement to Smith’s preference for high-key black-and-white printing. “The cottony feel and thickness is what caught my attention and it prints beautifully,” she says.

With all the print competitions she does, it’s important that her prints stand up to being held, shipped and displayed all over the country. “Several of my images have been handled a lot, packed in print cases and shipped several times,” she says. “They come back looking the same.”

Bright Velvet Rag will continue to be part of Smith’s award-winning formula for a while. “It’s a beautiful product that I will continue using myself and highly recommend for others.”

If you are looking to give your photographs a fine-art finish, call your sales representative at 800-453-9538 to discuss LexJet Sunset Bright Velvet Rag 315g or visit us at lexjet.com.

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.”

A ChromaLuxe EXT Print Project That’s Really for the Birds

Felts Audubon Preserve is a hidden gem, tucked away among sprawling neighborhoods in rural Palmetto, Fla. Whether you’re a novice birder or an avid twitcher, Felts is the perfect place to visit when you want to unplug and see some of the spectacular species of birds and butterflies Mother Nature has to offer.

The Preserve land once belonged to Otis and Anita Felts, who owned and operated a family-run dairy farm. When Otis died in 2002, the family wanted the land to remain natural and free from future development, so the Felts family donated the 27-acre parcel to the Manatee County Audubon Society.

The property is beautiful and serene today, but back in 2002, it was in rough shape, and any improvements were always completed by volunteers. There are still no paid staff members at Felts, and original member Don Bansen remembers the first major project: volunteers cleared more than 300 tires out of the lake. “Everybody was covered in mud, it was a mess,” he says.

While tires in the lake no longer pose a problem, one issue occasionally plagues groundskeeper Fred Allen: vandalism. In the past, volunteers witnessed graffiti and spray paint on signs or broken display cases. Membership Director Lucette Wombacher believes mischief increases a little when school lets out for the summer.

“Everything is made possible by volunteers. They help keep the grounds looking good and Fred is instrumental in keeping the trails neat, so birders can walk through,” says Wombacher. “It’s important to have something that resists damage so we can stay focused on clearing invasive plants and trails rather than cleaning vandalized signs,” she says.

To make it easier for the volunteers at Felts, Heather Reece from LexJet suggested ChromaLuxe EXT metal photo panels with graffiti and fade-resistant properties that stand up to outdoor elements. The panels offer a glossy white finish, which makes them perfect for art and photo reproductions. The 0.045-inch metal panels have been tested to last three years or more outdoors without fading.

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

Get to Know the Installation Location Before Shooting for Large-Format

Guest blog by Billy Elkins

Billy Elkins

In my last blog, I wrote about communication and went over the five-part process for photographing for large-format printing. Let’s look more specifically at scouting the final installation location. This is the part that is usually the most intimidating for photographers who are not used to photographing for large-format.

Often it is not a simple single surface. In fact, most of the time, the location is more complicated. As the photographer, we normally do not have access to the location of the installation so knowing as many details about the location as possible is important when capturing the image. The previous example from the Sarasota International Airport illustrates that perfectly.

Riverwalk image after final installation at the Sarasota Airport

The image for the airport had to be installed on the back wall directly behind the baggage claim area. This presented a few challenges because of the actual baggage claim window, a large advertising display screen, a column in the middle of the wall and the actual baggage claim conveyor belt system.

Like any other large format photography project, having a photograph of the installation location is useful for conceptually trying to decide how to capture the right image and from the right angle and the right size.

Understanding the location of the final image applies to all large-format photography projects. If you consider vehicle wraps, wall murals or trade show displays, they all have their own installation challenges that, as the image maker, we need to be aware of for the best results.

For this next example project, I was commissioned by LexJet to create an image for their “Carnival” themed trade show booth. The booth itself was 50-feet wide, and they wanted the photo to be the whole backdrop. The installation would be printed on LexJet Simple Flo Wrap Vinyl, and then installed on the back wall of the trade show exhibition floor.

The final image size ended up being 50-feet wide by 25-feet high. This was huge! When you entered the trade show floor, you could see the “Carnival” in the background and could smell the popcorn from the booth. I worked directly with the marketing team to create different versions of the background so they could integrate the best option with the rest of the booth design.

The fair image installed behind the LexJet trade show booth.

So how did we do it? We visited the Florida State Fair and spent most of the day capturing different scenes that were potential backdrops. I brought my full bag of lenses, and we decided on a focal length of 50mm, it is the closest focal length to what we actually see. I made very tight overlapping images so that we had as much resolution as possible knowing that final image size needed to be so big.

And because the marketing team was going to experiment with the concepts after the fact, we had to capture as many different scenes and as large as possible. The idea was to give the feel of walking right up to the carnival. In addition, we crafted images to be used for the rest of the booth and to be used for sample material give-aways.

Technical Details:

  • Camera – Nikon D800
  • Lens- Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
  • Focal Length – 50mm
  • F-Stop – f/9
  • Shutter – 1/650
  • ISO – 200
  • Frames – 20 overlapping NEF files

The image was merged using Adobe Photoshop CC Automate > Photomerge. I provided a final layered PSD file to the marketing team so they could make any adjustments for layout and for printing.