Traditionally a commercial printer, Clear Lake Press moved into wide-format printing earlier this year with the purchase of a Canon iPF8300 printer. The diversification into wide format, as well as apparel, has helped the printing company grow and better serve its expanding client base.
“You have to change with the times; you can’t be a one-dimensional printer anymore,” says Eric Erickson, prepress systems administrator for Clear Lake Press, which is based in Waseca, Minn. “We’ve had the Canon since February and in addition to variety of wide format work, we’ve also produced canvas reproductions using LexJet’s Sunset Select Matte Canvas, mounted using the Sunset HD Pro Stretcher Kits and finished with either Sunset Gloss Coating or Sunset Satin Coating. They’re all phenomenal products and the stretcher kits are easy to assemble and mount.”
A recent project for the nearby Austin (Minnesota) Public Schools to produce a large-scale wall mural requiring multiple large panels output precisely and quickly was a great testament to Clear Lake Press’ new capabilities. The wall is a linear collage of student and teacher portraits for a campaign called Austin Public Schools Inside Out (click here to read more about the project and the photographers behind it).
The job of Clear Lake Press was to reproduce the images on a media that would resist Minnesota’s changing and sometimes brutal weather over the next six months or so. After consulting with Rob Finkel, the company’s LexJet customer specialist, Erickson and Clear Lake Press president Dan Nitz decided to use LexJet TOUGHcoat 3R DuPont Tyvek.
“The combination of the inkjet material and the water-resistant, pigmented UV inks has worked out well so far. If anything, the first thing that will give out is the glue and tape they used to apply the panels because the mural is on a porous brick surface,” says Erickson.
The school installed the panels using double-stick tape and a water-soluble wheat paste so that removal will be fairly simple with minimal residue left behind. Clear Lake Press printed each student panel at about 3 1/2′ x 4′. Each teacher panel is about four times as large and printed in two panels, seamed together with double-stick tape.
“The printing went great. They were all monochrome images, so we utilized the black inks. The student photos printed in six minutes, which is extremely fast. I used actions tools in Photoshop so that it would produce the same image size and other characteristics, like lighting, consistently and automatically. That way it only took a minute or two to process each one, put a white frame around it and export to the Canon,” explains Erickson.
The mural was installed last month and should be up for the next few months at the high school.