Printing for a Cure

Printing for charity with window graphicsWhen Rick Hillbrand’s neighbors set up a non-profit to find a cure for Fanconi anemia (FA), the owners of Cottrell Printing in Centennial, Colo., pitched in with pro bono printing, which the company has been doing since the Kendall and Taylor Atkinson Foundation (KATA) was created about seven years ago.

The Atkinson’s lost two children, Kendall and Taylor, to the rare bone marrow disease and have dedicated much of their lives to eradicating it and helping others who have been diagnosed with FA.

“They’ve raised over $1 million and the money goes directly to research. The money they’ve raised has also benefitted cancer research since there are similarities in the treatments,” explains Hillbrand, one of Cottrell’s owners. “It’s not just cash donations that help worthy non-profits like KATA; print shops like ours can really help defray their advertising costs and get the word out.”

Cottrell Printing’s latest project for KATA was at a local McDonald’s, which is donating proceeds from its food sales on Dec. 15 to KATA. Cottrell Printing created two window graphics for either side of the McDonald’s, and printed about 20,000 flyers, to encourage the neighborhood to participate in the drive on Dec. 15.

Cottrell Printing used LexJet Simple Perforated Window Vinyl (60/40), which was printed with the company’s HP Designjet L25500 and then applied to the outside of the windows. “The printing went well and the installation was easy with two people. There were no complications at all, particularly since they were installed at street level,” says Hillbrand.

They also added a QR code to each print: “We’re using QR codes on our prints more often now; it’s a good way to get people to go to a site and find out more about it. A lot of people will scan it just because it’s there if they have that app on their phone. They don’t have to remember a website; it’s just snap and go,” adds Hillbrand.

For more information about KATA and how you can help, go to

Making Printed Signs Interactive with QR Codes

Printing QR codes for signsYou can add interactive value to a sign by using QR codes. As a quick refresher, QR codes are matrix barcodes (in other words, they’re like grocery barcodes that look like Rorschach ink tests) that can read the information contained in the code – typically a link to a Web page – and send it to a consumer’s smart phone.

Todd Dofflemyer of Muddy Feet Graphics reports that more customers are using this interactive element, or some other attempt at interactivity, in their printed signage. As an example, a property management client of Dofflemyer’s has a text-to message included on the sign so the potential buyer can find out what units are available in that property.

QR codes for interactive signs
Instead of using a QR code so that smart phone users can find out what units are available at that particular property, this sign includes a "text-to" instruction to find that information.

“They weren’t quite ready to implement QR codes, but it would have been the perfect application. The QR code could be at Property A6 and the website can be updated to whatever the current availability is in A6. It’s an up-to-the minute accurate version of what’s available at that site,” says Dofflemyer.

The most common application of a QR code is to send someone to a website, preferably a custom landing page unique to that QR code. “From there the message is customized, and you can include multiple QR codes to get even more specific. For instance, you could have a QR code for a summer camp check-in sign with one QR code for boys to check in with and another for girls, or however they’re dividing their camp sessions,” says Dofflemyer.

The possibilities are almost endless for the information that can be shared through a QR code and then customized to fit a particular promotion or sales program. Dofflemyer adds that QR codes don’t require super-precise printing.

“They’re very forgiving and can be printed at virtually any size,” says Dofflemyer. “One of our customers wants us to print one for the side of a tractor trailer. It works because it’s relative to the viewer; when you’re 20 feet away and it’s eight feet tall it will be the right size in the smart phone. Scale and distance work together for QR codes.”

The idea to print QR codes adds value and margin to the sign without raising the cost of printing. “It makes a real good marketing pitch, because everyone basically has a digital sign in their pocket; all you have to do is tie into it. So instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on an electronic digital sign system, they can have an interactive sign for $500,” adds Dofflemyer.