By Melissa Donovan
The decision to print on an irregular or premanufactured surface is one that many hesitate to act on. However, when the opportunity presents itself, it’s easy to see why digital printing is the go-to option. Wide format digital printers offer photographic-quality output on a vast range of surfaces, especially when the correct ink sets are used. This includes guitars, corn hole boards, or even flooring mats.
Above: PromoMatting by Americo uses an EFI VUTEk H2000 Pro to print directly to various flooring mats, creating customized pieces for clients.
Custom Logo Mats
Americo began in 1969 with three employees out of one location. Primarily a producer of plain entrance mats—90 percent of the company’s work, it also offered flock logo mats to big name national accounts like Blockbuster Video, Dairy Queen, Delta, Hallmark, Kroger, and Radio Shack.
Fast forward to 2020 and Americo employs 300 staff members out of three locations equaling a total of 350,000 square feet. It manufactures custom printed entrance and anti-fatigue or comfort mats. Its main clientele includes promotional marketing distributors, printers, and sign companies located throughout Canada and the U.S.
Launched in 1992, PromoMatting by Americo is based out of Cartersville, GA. Its main focus is custom logo mats. These mats serve two purposes—promotional and functional.
“They promote a name, logo, or brand and they are also designed to keep the elements outside of commercial and residential entrances. People don’t want to walk into a store and see dirt, debris, and wet floors—which is not a good look and could lead to slips and falls,” explains David Rones, VP sales, matting division, Americo.
About a third of the custom logo mats produced in the GA facility are digitally printed. When it came time to choose a digital printer for the job back in 2015, Americo spent over a year researching and testing numerous UV printers. It decided on a 65-inch EFI H1625 LED printer for its price and substrate compatibility.
The low price point was attractive because as Rones explains digitally printing on mats was not something that had been done to their knowledge, and the team at Americo wasn’t entirely sure what the demand was going to be at the outset.
Substrate compatibility was also important. The ink set run in the printer had to work well with the mats. EFI offers two UV ink options for the EFI H1625 LED. EFI 3M ProGraphics UV ink is for a range of flexible applications, including those stretched or heated. EFI ProGraphics UV POP inks are for rigid board and flexible media printing of indoor and outdoor applications.
Once the EFI H1625 was up and running, it was apparent that its speed and width couldn’t keep up with this growing segment of the business. In 2018, Americo turned again to EFI and this time purchased an EFI VUTEk H2000 Pro, which at 80 inches wide prints three times faster than the EFI H1625 LED.
Digital printing has a positive effect on the company. “We can now offer customers new indoor/outdoor matting products that can be produced and shipped within days, where it used to take weeks. The cleanup and setup time is seconds versus hours,” admits Rones.
A typical custom mat order runs anywhere from one to 50,000 mats, with the average around 100. Based on the size of the mat and the colors requested, it takes anywhere from two to ten minutes to print.
Americo has produced promotional mats for many companies. In Rones’ experience, specifically in regards to retail locations, mats of this nature are popular because they attract a shopper’s attention—since people do tend to look where they walk.
“There is a ton of signage at eye level competing for the consumer’s attention, but nothing on the floor—it’s a blank canvas. We call promotional mats billboards for the floor. Digital printing works well because when you are trying to get noticed, nothing works better than photographic-quality images,” he concludes.
The advertising medium has become so popular, the company is now selling blank mats and rolls to screenprinters, digital printers, and sign companies.
Mar2020, Digital Output