Printing the Town’s Grocery Store at Spectra Imaging

Inkjet Wall Mural

Spectra Imaging in Louisville, Ky., has a way with walls. When the opportunity to provide wall graphics rolls around, as it does quite a bit, Spectra Imaging takes it to the next level.

One of Spectra’s most recent projects involved turning blank walls into a grocery store for Junior Achievement’s BizTown in Louisville.

BizTown is a 7,000 square foot town where kids learn about life in the real world, like budgeting and finance, as they buy goods and save their money at the local “bank.”

Inkjet Wall GraphicsKroger sponsored two rooms and sent Spectra Imaging photos taken at one of their stores to replicate on the walls. Spectra put the files together to create one seamless image that would cover the walls from floor to ceiling in both rooms. Spectra also routed out dimensional letters and logos for the rooms.

“The walls are fairly textured so I asked my LexJet rep, Sammi Calabrese, what would work best. She told me that an adhesive vinyl would be more likely to peel off the walls, so she recommended we use something designed for rough and textured walls,” says Brian Rogers, owner of Spectra Imaging. “The project turned out really cool.”

Spectra used LexJet Simple MTS Adhesive Vinyl for the application. Simple MTS Vinyl has a more aggressive adhesive for textured walls and surfaces that don’t form a secure bond with conventional removable adhesives. The vinyl can also be easily removed for up to a year after installation.

Cheers for LexJet Simple MTS Adhesive Vinyl

Printing on Rough and Textured SurfacesApplying vinyl to rough plywood is tricky. Will it stick and stay stuck? To overcome the vinyl-to-plywood challenge, Jim Taylor used LexJet Simple MTS Adhesive Vinyl, which is engineered for rough and textured surfaces.

Taylor teaches a graphics manufacturing class at Val Verde High School in Perris, Calif., where students learn about screen printing, embroidery and digital printing. During the class, the students create graphics that are used not only at Val Verde, but at other high schools in the district as well.

In this case, the students created, printed and applied graphics for the Citrus Hill High School cheerleader boxes the Citrus High cheerleaders use during football season. The photo shows the latest version of the cheerleader boxes that will be in play this season.

Vinyl Application
Putting the finishing touches on a cheer box in Val Verde High School’s graphics manufacturing class.

“We didn’t have to replace any of the graphics last season. They brought the boxes back and we just pulled off the old ones and applied the new graphics. We sat them in the sun for about half a day to warm them up and pulled them off without replacing any of the wood, and applied the new graphics,” says Taylor.

Taylor says the cheerleader boxes take a lot of abuse, going from game to game, but the graphics hold up all season long. The graphics are printed with the HP Latex 260 (formerly the HP Designjet 26500).

“The prints turn out real nice. We cut them in a rectangle, apply them to one side of the box, and cut off the excess around the edges. We applied about 24 of them in about 30-45 minutes,” adds Taylor.

Military History Applied to Brick

Wall Mural of Military History

Staff Sergeant Bobby Jones of the Iowa Army National Guard got the call to produce a comprehensive and challenging timeline across 54″ x 54′ of wall space at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Wall Mural by Iowa Army National GuardThe military timeline spans the American Revolution to the current War on Terror and is designed to give recruits attending Basic Combat Training a big picture view of the National Guard’s place, and their place, in history.

“The idea for the project originally started as a concept that showed a timeline with silhouettes on an American flag background. The jpeg that was sent to us from Fort Jackson was about 31k and was clearly not useable for the project. With the help of Specialist Brandynn Boren, we set out to design an image that would keep the integrity of the concept, but provide some more detail,” says Jones.

Inkjet Printed Wall MuralJones adds that the final design is similar to the artwork found at the armory he works out of on Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa, which illustrates the history of America’s wars, the pivotal battles and the Iowans who fought and died in those wars.

“We also incorporated the use of the streamers of each conflict. The streamer is attached to the Army flag and represents the Army’s involvement in that particular war. When soldiers are deployed they receive a medal their involvement in the campaign, and the ribbon is made of the same pattern and colors as that war’s streamer,” explains Jones.  “So we used some of the same concepts used in our own armory and added a few personal touches like the use of some of the symbols of our great nation: the Liberty Bell, the 13-star flag, the 50-star flag, and the bald eagle. We also made sure to include the seven Army Values:  Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.”

Inkjet Printed Wall MuralThe next step was to find the right inkjet media for the project that would work well, both on the application to the painted brick surface and with the Iowa Army National Guard’s HP Designjet L25500 Latex Printer.

Jones turned to LexJet government specialist Vincent Bejar for advice. Bejar recommended LexJet Simple MTS Adhesive Vinyl for the project. The design printed without a hitch and was installed in about six hours with a ladder, a propane torch and a couple of Roller Pro Vinyl Application Rollers.

“We found that the measurements provided were guesstimations, so we had to make a few adjustments on-site.  We have never done anything of this size or on brick. I am very happy with the results and ease of use of this product, and look forward to using it again in the near future,” says Jones.

Hole in One with a Custom Golf Ball Print on a Tire Cover

Tire cover graphics

Every so often, that oddball project walks into the shop that allows you to test new materials and production methods. In the case pictured here, it was a golf ball project for a customer’s tire cover on the back of their Hummer.

The challenge was the surface of the tire cover, which wasn’t the typical soft vinyl or fabric, but a semi-rigid, slick, pebbled surface that would be difficult for a typical vinyl graphics application. This project drove to FastSigns – Airway in El Paso and gave manager Alan Russell an excuse to test LexJet’s Simple MTS Adhesive Vinyl.

Russell says that he had already begun experimenting with the high-tack vinyl designed for multi-textured surfaces on the floors of a local industrial complex, Mallory Manufacturing Company, but also gets the call for off-the-wall applications to slick and textured surfaces on the sides of Porta Potties and trash cans.

Applying graphics to a tire cover“The tire cover is a low-energy plastic with a real nasty pebble-grained texture that nothing sticks to,” explains Russell. “The wrinkle for us was that they had Armor-All’d the crap out of it. We used Simple Green and a scrub brush so that it wasn’t so shiny and slick. Then, after we did that two or three times, we applied alcohol to the surface and let it dry to prepare it for the graphics.”

The golf ball image was printed on a Mimaki JV33 solvent printer, laminated with an optically-clear cast vinyl, and die cut to its 36″ x 36″ circular dimensions. Then, Russell put some reference marks on the tire cover to align the graphics, put the tire cover on the board to give it more rigidity for application and applied the graphic.

“We didn’t use application tape; we just laid it in the middle of the tire cover. We didn’t have it perfectly aligned the first time, so we just popped it up, repositioned it and squeegeed it with a normal squeegee,” explains Russell. “We used a rivet brush with the backing paper on top to protect the graphic and just brushed it into the cover; we didn’t use any heat. The edges laid out smooth, flat and gorgeously and we just hung it back on the truck. He took it to Colorado and it still looks great.”

Originally, the client wanted to wrap the entire cover, but Russell discouraged that concept since he felt a wrap would be much more difficult, thus more expensive for the client, and it would simply look better in the middle of the cover. Russell was right, as the golf ball stands out surrounded by the black of the tire cover.

“The image quality of the Simple MTS was as good if not better than most vinyl we’ve used. It has more of a matte vinyl look and feel, and that’s why it takes the ink much better, especially with solvent printers. It die-cut the first time perfectly and laminated beautifully, plus the fact that it’s fairly thick it lays like a 2×4; the thicker it is, the easier it is for my staff to apply. When you throw a laminate on it you’re at around 7 mils, which is why it applied so nicely without tape. For those relatively flat applications, like Porta-Potties and floors, it’s perfect,” says Russell. “In real life it looks even more three dimensional; it’s very deceiving. It was perfect, and the black of the tire cover trimmed it out nicely. We also added a slight grey outline to blend it into the cover.”