Finding a Competitive Advantage for Poster Printing

Poster Printing
Productive Displays, Addison, Ill., was able to print high-quality posters cost-effectively with Sunset Photo Satin SUV.

There are certain volumes for poster printing where digital inkjet printing simply can’t compete with offset or screen printing. However, those volume numbers, and the margin where such projects are profitable, inch higher for digital printing companies as time goes by.

Inkjet Poster PrintingBruce Ulrich, president of Productive Displays in Addison, Ill., reports that with the addition of LexJet Sunset Photo Satin SUV 275g, that volume number where his company can compete for poster jobs with offset and screen printing is near 1,000.

“Typically, where we compete most effectively for this type of work is in the 1-800 piece range. Once we go over 1,000 pieces I would need another 20-30 percent off the cost,” says Ulrich. “We used another product in the past, but it was much more expensive. I needed to find an option that would give us at least another 40-50 percent off the cost of producing posters.”

Ulrich found that option with LexJet with Sunset Photo Satin SUV 275g. Moreover, Productive Displays is able to provide a higher-quality, sharper and more color-accurate poster. Sunset Photo Satin SUV is also instant-dry, so that production of multiple-run posters can move quickly and smoothly using the company’s Mimaki JV3 solvent printers.

Inkjet Poster PrintingThe job pictured here for Dish Network is an excellent example as it required three versions with 100 prints of each version. Variable-data print projects, where there are multiple versions of the same print, continues to become more commonplace, fitting nicely into a wide-format digital print company’s wheelhouse.

“With most customers, they’ll come back and ask me for the price for three versions, five versions or ten versions. When they say that to the offset or screen print companies there’s a setup charge. I try to explain to them that where our favorable cost situation comes into play is that it doesn’t matter how many versions they want, the price per poster won’t change,” explains Ulrich. “The client was very pleased with the look and quality of the posters. The Sunset product will allow us to compete more cost-effectively against the offset and screen print companies for poster-related projects.”

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.”

A Printer Service Network Worth Checking Into

Large format printer service, repair and serviceAbout two years ago, graphics industry veterans Bob Flipse and Glenn Robb started a new printer service network called GrafxNetwork. Now in its third year, the network of independent service technicians has grown to more than 25 service locations across the U.S.

GrafxNetwork services mainly entry-level to mid-range solvent printers – including Roland, Mutoh, Mimaki and HP Designjet solvent – as well as Mimaki and CET UV-curable flatbeds, depending on the location and the technician.

Flipse describes GrafxNetwork as the hub of the network for independent service contractors. As he explains, “As opposed to a single independent technician who doesn’t have the benefit of our infrastructure and is running around doing support with a phone in one ear and having to do paperwork nights and weekends, we have a full staff here to do that for him so that he can concentrate on the customer.”

GrafxNetwork maintains an online work order system with detailed equipment histories so the technician knows exactly what happened during the last service call, alleviating any potential confusion during subsequent visits, says Flipse.

Flipse adds that GrafxNetwork carries full General and Professional (Error and Omissions) liability insurance for the protection of both the customer and the service technician, as well as a service warranty.

“If there’s a problem with the service, we bite the bullet and take care of it,” says Flipse, “And, we maintain an extensive parts inventory to ensure the right parts on-site during the first visit.”

For more information about GrafxNetwork and its locations, call 888-335-5914 or go to www.grafxnetwork.com

Are You Ready for Some Football? Tackling a Locker Room Makeover with Carpet Graphics

Producing carpet graphics for a schoolFootball is king in Arkansas, especially Fayetteville, home of Northwest Arkansas Sign Shop and nationally renowned high school and college programs. Local high school Shiloh Christian has fielded an Arkansas state champion football team seven times since 1998.

It’s a legacy that demands recognition, and what better place to recognize the team’s place in history than its locker room and football facility. That’s where Northwest Arkansas Sign Shop brought its expertise in wrapping just about everything in sight into play.

Producing and printing window graphicsThe sign shop’s owner, Steve Holden, says the project called for everything from locker wraps, graphics inside each locker, locker name tags, perforated window graphics, wall wraps and action photo reproductions writ super-large. The “crown jewel,” as Holden calls it, is the 10′ x 10′ logo that sits on the carpet in the middle of the locker room.

Holden consulted with his LexJet customer specialist, Josh Abel, who recommended LexJet Simple CarpetAd topped with LexJet Floor Velvet Laminate (5 Mil) for the project. Holden ordered the product, printed it with the shop’s Mimaki JV3, contour cut the graphic into a circle with a Mimaki plotter and applied it to the low-pile carpet in two halves.

Wrapping lockers with inkjet printsInstallation was a breeze, says Holden. It was a simple matter of staking out where the graphic would be placed, applying one half first, and then lining up the second half to the first.

Since the installation a few weeks ago, Holden says they asked players to purposely walk over the graphic in their cleats. “It held up perfectly,” he says. “It was a large project and the carpet graphics topped it off nicely.”

If you have a similar project on tap, or see the potential for future projects where this application would be appropriate, here are some basic installation, maintenance and removal instructions for LexJet’s Simple CarpetAd Advertising System:

LexJet’s CarpetAd Advertising System has been developed to allow temporary application of graphics to indoor carpeted floors. The pressure sensitive system offers the ease of peel and stick application as well as protection of the graphic for up to 180 days from normal wear and tear. The system is designed for application on indoor low-pile, commercial-grade carpets with a tight weave and a short loop.

LexJet’s CarpetAd system is the combination of LexJet’s CarpetAd base printing film and approved scuff resistant laminate. Approved pressure sensitive laminates include: LexJet Performance Textured Polypropylene Laminate (5 Mil) and LexJet Floor Velvet Laminate (5 Mil).

Surface Preparation

  • The carpet should be thoroughly vacuumed. It should be free of lint and debris prior to installation. If carpets were shampooed or steam cleaned, ensure the carpet is completely dry prior to installation.

Carpet Surface

  • CarpetAd is designed for indoor low-pile, commercial-grade carpets with a tight weave and a short loop. Due to the variability of carpet fibers, weaves and textures, it is necessary for the CarpetAd decal to be thoroughly tested before installing the promotional application. New carpet may have been treated with a “Scotch Guard” product. This may result in poor CarpetAd bond. Clean the carpet using the manufactures recommended procedure before application of CarpetAd.

Graphic Installation

1. Remove a few inches of the liner from the graphic and position onto the floor. Squeegee the front of the graphic starting at the top edge. Remove the liner gradually as you squeegee the graphic to the floor working from the center out using firm, even pressure to avoid trapping air. Overlap all strokes keeping the edges from contact until firmly pressed with the squeegee. Re-burnish all edges to ensure good adhesion.

2. To avoid edge lifting, the graphic should have corners that are rounded to the largest possible radius.

Maintenance

Do not clean or vacuum for at least 24 hours after application to allow for proper adhesion to the carpet. CarpetAd decals can be cleaned using mild soap and water on a sponge to the graphic area. Excessive moisture or saturating with carpet cleaning solutions can cause premature lifting of the decal from the carpet.

If a CarpetAd decal edge lifts up from the carpet for any reason, the decal must be removed and replaced to prevent a tripping hazard.

Removal

1. To remove the CarpetAd decal start at one edge. Once the edge is loose from the carpet, pull back on the decal using a smooth consistent force.

2. Upon removal of the graphic, it is normal for a shadow to appear. This is because the area under the graphic is cleaner than the surrounding carpet. Simply clean the entire carpeted area to remove the shadow.

Download Free ICC Profiles and Learn How to Use Them

How to download and use ICC profilesNow available at LexJet’s ICC Profile page on its website are how-to videos on using ICC Profiles, in addition to free profile downloads for Canon, Encad, Epson, HP, Mimaki, Mutoh, Roland and Seiko printers, as well as custom profile targets.

ICC profiles are an integral part of color management in the printing process. When available, an ICC profile should always be used when printing to give you the best possible results and ensure the closest possible color match and rendering.

Current videos now on the ICC Profile Download page that walk you through the process include:

  • Download and Install ICC Profiles – PC
  • Download and Install ICC Profiles – Mac
  • Canon iPF Printers, Import Custom Media Types – PC
  • Canon iPF Printers, Import Custom Media Types – Mac
  • Soft Proofing in Photoshop

New videos and educational information will be added to the page. Any suggestions you have that would help you with the printing process are encouraged. If you have any questions, or need help with anything, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.

Dee-O-Gee on the Windows Update: Win-Win-Win for Print Shop, Client and City

Printing window murals with a large format inkjet printerThe last time we checked in with INK Outside the Box, Bozeman, Mont., and its ongoing project with local pet store Dee-O-Gee, the sign code restricting window murals was still up in the air, but INK Outside the Box was aiming to change that. What wasn’t up in the air was the success of the project, which has led to a change in the sign code.

Justin Lind of INK Outside the Box says Dee-O-Gee has been able to attribute a 35 percent increase in the pet store’s business since the murals went up last year. Over the past year INK Outside the Box has added thematic touches to the original murals that draw additional interest and anticipation from residents, tourists and other passersby in Bozeman. Moreover, INK Outside the Box has realized additional business due to the visibility of the project, not to mention the added revenue from simply changing the mural every season.

“We’re getting a huge response. A lot of Dee-O-Gee’s client base is always curious about what the next theme is going to be. We have a lot of tourists that come through and they’re interested in it as well,” says Lind. “And, all we have to do is tell one of our potential clients that we printed the dogs and they always recognize the project. It was a hot topic for awhile in the paper; it definitely gives us a lot more clout with our customer base, especially customers who have never done business with us before.”

The latest theme, shown here, celebrates spring in the Bozeman area, where the rivers begin to flow from snow melt and fly fishing is king. INK Outside the Box will reveal the summer motif in the next couple of weeks. As Lind puts it, “Summer is finally arriving here in Montana.”

The thematic accessories, such as the hats and fly fishing gear of the spring-themed dogs, are printed on LexJet Simple Low Tack White Vinyl with INK Outside the Box’s HP UV curable printer then die-cut on a Mimaki plotter. Transfer tape is applied to the die-cut images so the customer can easily apply them on top of the original base image, which is about 92 in. x 92 in. The fly fisherman vest is about 24 in. x 36 in., to give you some idea of scale.