By Olivia Cahoon
Digitally printed carpet graphics provide a vibrant and colorful option to display a message, promote a band, or direct traffic. Depending on the intended environment, carpet graphics may be designed with images, solid colors, or text. As a type of textile, these graphics require a print provider with knowledge about the nuances of outputting to fabric and experience with this niche material.
Incorporated into the U.S. in 2016, Sommer Flooring Inc. is a branch of a European carpet manufacturer and part of a Belgian family-owned company with origins dating back to 1898. Its U.S. headquarters is located in Kennesaw, GA. 250 staff members are employed across several plants and branches throughout the entire international operation.
“We have a strong European base with plants in Belgium and France,” shares Yves Colpaert, president, Sommer Flooring. The company’s branches are in the Netherlands, U.K., and U.S. Distributors and sales representatives are also found in Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Sommer Flooring aims to provide a one-stop shop for all event flooring needs, offering clients the benefits of in-depth production and industry knowledge. The company supplies fiber production and technical textiles developed for building and automotive, in addition to a range of vinyl and safety flooring.
100 percent recyclable and fire certified, the production and distribution of needlepunched carpets are targeted toward event and trade show customers. The product is digitally printable. “As we are in the trade show and event industry, we noticed the need for personalization of flooring products and exclusive products,” explains Colpaert.
Needlepunched carpet is a thin and affordable option made from 100 percent polypropylene fibers. It can be combined with padding for added comfort at trade shows and events. Sommer Flooring’s needlepunched carpet portfolio includes various products. The company’s Expoprint carpet is positioned for digital printing. A custom design can be output on a carpet up to 6.5 feet wide. The print is suited for use both indoors and outdoors.
This carpet can be used with two printing techniques—transfer dye sublimation (dye-sub) and direct printing with LED curing. Colpaert says the best results occur with LED curing using an EFI VUTEk GS3250LX Pro. The printer handles rigid and sheeted media up to 126.5 inches wide and two inches thick. Its LED technology is intended for a greater range of supported substrates and “greener” printing.
Sommer Flooring has printed carpet for five years in Europe, mostly with the dye-sub technique, and for the past year in the U.S.
Carpets for Occasions
Recently, the carpet manufacturer was approached by Nolan’s Rental, Inc. of Webster, NY. The client is a full-service tent and party rental facility used for weddings, meetings, and small parties. It requested a floor graphic that resembled a boardwalk. The goal was to create an attractive floor display without installing real wood.
Sommer Flooring used 6.5-foot wide Expoprint carpet, printed on the EFI VUTEk GS3250LX Pro. 6.5×65 feet of media was output for the project.
According to Colpaert, the carpet was easy to install despite working with a hard surface. Double-sided tape was used to adhere the needlepunched carpet to the base floor.
The reall challenge was delivering the completed project in time for the event. “A late delivery means a catastrophe in the event industry,” he says. The carpet was completed and installed on schedule. Overall, the client was pleased with the completed carpet graphic.
Comfort and Style
Sommer Flooring produces a special needlepunched carpet that can be digitally printed. The UV LED printing process allows the company to offer customers vibrant graphics whether used on trade show floors or events like weddings, private parties, and corporate events.
Carpet printing is not an everyday occurance in a print shop, but digital technologies—especially UV LED curing—have enabled manufacturers in many fields to adopt the practice and offer customers unique, one-of-a-kind products. One offs and short runs are financially possible thanks to these advancements.
July2017, Digital Output