Customization in Wide-Format Printing: It’s Getting Personal(ized)

One of the earliest benefits of digital inkjet printing was the ability to create one-off, customized prints. Over the past two decades, that’s been a major selling point for printers offering banners, POP signage and trade show graphics, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

In fact, the digital print industry is branching out into many more market segments, thanks to improved print technology as well as new, innovative media and substrates, such as the personalized wallcovering printed with quotes, pictured above.

These new ideas and products, of course, are in response to increasing demands from graphic designers, brand owners, interior designers and consumers themselves who have seen customization in action with everything from canvas printed on demand to the mass-customization project: Share a Coke. Digital print technology allows print service providers to deliver smaller runs faster and with higher-quality results.

In the décor market, “there are more companies developing brands, which is increasing the competition and simultaneously creating a need for customization,” Rachel Nunziata writes in Big Picture magazine. “Product companies and manufacturers are also adopting in-house digital print – or outsourcing to print providers. This allows for product modifications of color or scale and smaller curated collections.”

This has been embraced in the label and packaging arena, as well, with digital printing giving smaller brands the chance to stand out. “The ability to customize packaging allows independent brands entree into the big leagues,” says Ralph Giammarco, VP of S-One Labels & Packaging in BXP magazine. “They can use personalization, tactile substrates and metallic finishes, do promotions around sporting events or holidays and enjoy super-fast turnaround.”

Check out some of the newest products now available that can help you delve further into customized wide-format printing:

Wrapping paper: Have your customers asked you to print photos for an upcoming wedding or birthday? Imagine using those pictures to customize wrapping paper, allowing them to personalize the gift-giving experience. If you have a latex printer or DesignJet production printer (Z6200 or newer), you could increase profitability by adding HP Satin Wrapping Paper to your product offering and help your customers make a splash at their next gift.

Wallcovering: For years, homeowners have spent countless hours in the wallpaper and paint departments at home improvement stores. With the ability to create custom wall coverings for your clients, you will help save them time and money as well as give them a way to design unique and personal bedrooms, boardrooms or commercial spaces. If you have either a latex or solvent printer, you can create custom wall murals with an array of options: the various textures of Vescom, HP PVC-free Wall Paper, which is certified for use in schools and hospitals when printed with the HP latex printers, and finally, the subtle textured options of Avery Dennison MPI 2600 Wall Film.

Art and décor: While printing images on photo papers is what initially put digital printing on the map, it’s time PSPs help customers understand all the options available for personalized art and décor. Canvas prints help your clients turn a great photo into a beautiful work of art. There are a variety of canvas products available for all printer technologies, including LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas for aqueous or LexJet Sunset by Fredrix Satin Canvas SUV for latex and solvent. If you have a dye-sub printer, ChromaLuxe Aluminum Photo Panels create stunning wall décor that will surely be a great conversation starter for homeowners and business owners, alike.

These are only a handful of options that are available to you to help you expand your product offering and keep your customers happy and always coming back to see what new and exciting things you can print for them.

If you have questions about any of these products or would like additional ideas on customization opportunities, visit LexJet.com or contact one of our sales specialists at 800-453-9538.

Change Your Mood with Wallcovering

The possibilities of digital print in the décor sector not only allow for the power of personalization, but with the advances in media options, can also instantly change the mood of a room and the people in it.

“Wallcoverings have the distinct ability not only to depict a visual, but also to harness imagery to create an experience and evoke an emotional response,” says Matt Bruno, executive director of the Wallcoverings Association in this Big Picture article. “This experiential capability makes it a powerful tool for designers of commercial and residential spaces.”

Studies show a strong relationship between an environment and how it affects its inhabitants. This psychological approach to interior design has existed for thousands of years—most notably with Chinese Feng Shui. The bond between interior design and our emotions have caused designers to use wallcoverings in creative ways to encourage peace and happiness in an interior space.

Color is a powerful element for generating emotions and mood. For example, green is known for its soothing qualities, gray gives a sense of relaxation and serenity, orange provides a feeling of energy and yellow is associated with happiness and creativity.

Texture in wallpaper also plays a role in the overall ambiance of a room, providing a touchable experience. Vescom Digital Wallcovering comes in a multitude of finishes. Vescom Lay provides a sophisticated feel of linen, Vescom Tabby has the artistic textured feel of canvas and Vescom Felt produces a soft, calming warmth to an interior.

“Go to your happy place” takes on a new meaning for designers who are using digital wallcoverings to mold interiors to promote happy, healthy environments. Vescom Digital Wallcovering is increasingly popular with interior designers who want to create personalized wall treatments that add a unique ambiance and evoke positive emotions.

Print Protection Tips: When to Use Liquid Coating

For prints that are subjected to direct light, wear-and-tear or even graffiti, one of the most economical ways to protect them is with a coat or two of liquid coating. Water-based coatings, such as Sunset Gloss or Satin Coating as well as Marabu ClearShield and EnduraCoat options provide consistent, reliable and cost-effective print protection for everything from canvas wraps to wall murals to outdoor signage.

The benefit of using a liquid coating include abrasion resistance, extending the life of the graphic and making it easier to clean them, which is especially helpful for outdoor signage that falls victim to those graffiti artists. Coatings can also change the image’s finish — from gloss to matte, for example — which is one way to reduce the glare of a glossy print.

Ink Interaction & Coatings

While ink technology in inkjet printing has evolved significantly in recent years, even latex or solvent inks can use added protection from a liquid coating, especially for long-lasting or high-traffic prints (think: wallcoverings).

It’s especially helpful for prints displayed in direct sun, which need help against the UV light that can eventually wear away any ink. It’s important to remember, however, that ink-and-coating combinations can sometimes behave in an unpredictable way. Best to test compatibility before coating an entire job.

StarLam coating for water-based coatings

Water-based & UV Coatings

Water-based Coatings: For smaller jobs, a water-based coating is the way to go since they can be roller, mop or machine applied. These are great cost-effective alternatives to thermal or pressure-sensitive laminates. Since they are liquid, water-based coatings can conform to uneven surfaces when needed, which a laminate film cannot typically do.

These can also be machine-applied. Check out this video to see how easy it is to use the Marabu StarLam coating machine. Waterbased coatings range from $0.08 – $0.18 per square foot.

Machine-applied UV liquid coating

UV Coatings: Machine-applied UV coatings provide longer life at a lower cost, $0.04 – $0.10 per square foot, depending on the product. Our line of Mara Shield UV coatings are application-based, such as anti-graffiti, corrugated board and rigid or flexible substrates.

UV coatings dramatically extend the life of prints and intensify the color vibrancy of printed images. The MegaCoat XL 63 UV Coater can handle everything from films to boards that are 1-inch thick.

To learn more about coating, ink and substrate compatibility, check out our Print Protection page or call at LexJet coatings expert at 800-453-9538.

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Get the Most from Your Solvent Printer

One of the quickest ways to diversify your services as a print shop operator is to add a wide-format solvent printer. With a machine, such as one of the Epson SureColor S-Series printers, you can expand your horizons into everything from long-term outdoor graphics to customized interior décor. Check out how these printers can make an immediate difference in your shop:

Improve Image Output: After more than a year of testing, our Experience Center techs found that the Epson SureColor S-Series S60600 and S80600 provided extremely consistent print production, including photographic and fine art jobs. “I can attest that this is the best solvent printer technology available with regards to reliability, image durability, image detail/sharpness and color fidelity,” says our tech expert, Michael Clementi. “If you were to tell me five years ago that a solvent print would be approved by photographic/fine art consumers concerned with gamut and image quality and durability, I would have told you that we’d have a long wait to get to that point. We have arrived.”

Our All-time Top Wallcovering Prep, Print & Installation Tips

Any time you’re covering a wall floor-to-ceiling it’s a big job. But with some insider tips and the right products for the job, you can break it down into a manageable task. Here are some of our all-time, most helpful tricks and tips for seamless, professional wallcovering printing and installation:

Do Your Pre-Work: Before you can even think about hitting “go” on your printer, be sure you’ve got your site under control. These means doing a site visit ahead of time, testing the wall surface and taking photos and wall measurements (here’s a handy app, Photo Measures, that makes that job easier). Once that’s under control, you can begin creating tiles that you’ll print. Check out the video on this blog for more pre-printing tips and how to set up your tile files.

Know When to Go Short-Term: This isn’t your grandma’s wall paper, and chances are your clients won’t be planning to leave it on the wall for the next 30 years. There are so many options on the market today for short- to long-term wall murals for a multitude of applications. For a low-cost, temporary solution that can be cleanly removed, there’s no better option than LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric. It’s available for aqueous– and solvent-compatible technologies. Check out this video to learn how we covered a 26-foot wall for less than $2 per square foot.

Understand the Big Picture: If you’re using photography for a customized wallcovering, the photo itself needs to be technically correct to work when it’s printed in a larger-than-life size. We got all the insider tips on photographing for wide-format printing from pro photographer, Billy Elkins. Check out this airport wall mural installation project that he created images for … and all the background on how he made it come out just right.

HP PVC-free Wall PaperMeet Your Client’s Environmental Needs: If you’ve been asked to cover a wall in a sensitive environment like a school or a healthcare facility, the best option for the job is Type II compliant HP PVC-free Durable Wall Paper in Smooth or Suede. This line of wallcovering is engineered to be used with HP latex inks and don’t require top coats to maintain Type II compliance. Unlike some solvent options, this latex-compatible option doesn’t put off odors or fumes that must be degassed before installation. It also meets FSC- and UL GREENGUARD GOLD standards, so it helps designers achieve LEED certification. And because it’s pre-pasted with adhesive, it goes up easily with little more than a water bottle and a sponge. Check out this video to learn how.

Create a Beautiful Finish: Just because it’s made from a digital print and maybe it won’t be installed for decades doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. Our line of customizable wallcoverings, LexJet Premium WallPro™ comes in a variety of elegant finishes to create one-of-a-kind, eye-catching walls. The Premium WallPro line includes a variety of finishes, such as smooth, gold or silver metallic, mylar and linen textures that work beautifully in any residential or commercial space with contemporary or traditional décor.

If you’re looking for more tips on creating unique wallcoverings for your customers, give one of our LexJet pros a call at 800-453-9538.

Stand Out in the Décor Printing Field

These days, it seems like every wide-format print shop is trying to elbow into the décor market. That shouldn’t discourage you from finding your niche in this ever-expanding segment. We’ve compiled four key tips to help you find your place … and then stand out from the crowd.

State your case. Be sure the world knows that you’re offering new services. You can do that with a new tagline after your business name on your printed materials, business cards and website. Don’t forget to update your bio on social media accounts to include your offerings, too. Check out Full Color’s Twitter bio, for instance. You never know where potential customers will look to discover more information about your business before they ever pick up the phone or stop by.

Show off your work. In the décor market, nothing sells printing services better than printed samples. If you’ve got room in your shop, cover a wall with the new customizable wallcovering you’re offering. If you don’t have a free wall, consider stretching printed wallcovering over stretcher bars (like GOframe), to provide a nice-looking work sample. When working on a project for a client, pull out your phone and take before and after photos for your portfolio. If your client is willing, be sure to post them on social media with all the appropriate hashtags (#beforeandafter #decorprinting #interiordesign, etc.). If you’re not into posting your projects, give us a call at 941-256-7915, and we’ll happily feature you on the LexJet blog!

Get specialized. You can truly set yourself apart by offering something unusual in the market. LexJet has long-been known as a provider of specialty products, and we can help fine tune your services. We’ve seen some genius ideas from our customers. Check out our blog on Bumblejax, featuring the face-mounted photo displays utilizing LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic PaperCrystalClear Permanent Adhesive and various widths of acrylic. We were also inspired by the bar stools and bar tops that Jamie Birch crafted using LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric and LexJet Crystal Low Tack. And who could forget Michael Macone’s lamp shades printed on LexJet Sunset Textured Fine Art Paper 310g? If you’re creative with what you can do with print, you can develop a one-of-a-kind business.

Build demand. Sometimes being able to sell a new idea is simply letting people know it can be done. Consider visiting business networking groups or interior design associations to let them know what you can do. Bring samples and fresh ideas. Be willing to write for their blogs or give a mini demonstration.

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