Visit Our Redesigned Sunset Print Awards Website

The next time you log on to the Sunset Print Awards website, you’ll notice some changes. The sleek new appearance makes it easier for photographers to learn about the prestigious Sunset Print Awards as well as local print competitions offering the award.

Other updates include:

  • Easier navigation
  • Better views of past winners
  • Easy access to the blog for all the latest Sunset news
  • Interviews with winners
  • Recommended Sunset branded media

What hasn’t changed are the benefits to district and local winners or the top three prizes awarded at the International Photographic Competition. Each winner receives a customized crystal trophy, a lapel pin, and a free pack or roll of Sunset Media, while the three IPC finalists receive engraved trophies and cash prizes.

If you are involved in a local PPA group, camera club or other photography organization that has a minimum of 150 printed entries and would like to include the Sunset Print Award in your competition, have your chairperson register today.

This year, we will be presenting awards to the 2019 IPC winners at Imaging USA in Nashville. If you are attending later this month, be sure to stop by the IPC Display and pick up some information about the 2020 Sunset Print Awards.

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.

Thanks, Digital Output Readers, for Naming LexJet to the Top 50!

We’re thrilled to announce that LexJet has, once again, been named to Digital Output’s Top 50 Readers’ Choice list! This annual list determines reader interest based on the magazine’s editorial content and advertisements. Check out the February 2020 edition of Digital Output for all the details!

“Our goal at LexJet is to provide our customers with not only the products and technology they need to keep production going, but also industry know-how and strong business relationships that help them grow and evolve right along with the market,” says Justin Lehman, VP of Sales at LexJet. “We couldn’t be happier about being recognized by Digital Output’s readers, and we hope we can continue supporting them for years to come.”

In the magazine, we’ll be featuring some products that have been customer favorites throughout 2019, such as:

Sunset Hot Press Smooth Bright White 300g, a new, cost-effective option to help photographers bring their vision to the print.

HP Optimal Gloss Air GRP, practically a cult favorite for 2019! This adhesive vinyl from HP has been one of the biggest and most popular launches we’ve seen in years.

LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric, this long-time favorite continues to delight customers with its detailed print reproduction and ease of use for everything from floors, windows, walls and more.

“In 2019, our company celebrated our 25th anniversary, and we’re definitely looking forward to entering another decade with our vision set on helping our customers master print technologies and bring even more opportunities to their customers,” Lehman says.

New Prices on Sunset Papers: Another Reason to Switch

Earlier this year, LexJet launched the all new Sunset Cold Press Textured Bright White 300g and Sunset Hot Press Smooth Bright White 300g to give photographers more options for bringing their vision to the finished print.

Now, we’ve lowered the prices of both of these new products to give you another reason to make the switch to Sunset.

These two new papers are compatible with aqueous inks, and are acid-free for long print life. They’re ideal for photography, art reproductions, unframed cards or high-end, customized home décor. And now they are even more competitively priced.

To learn more about the new pricing structure for these papers and how to create high-end visual impact with Sunset products, call a LexJet print specialist at 800-453-9538 or visit LexJet.com.