In a digital age were standing out from a crowd can be challenging, flatbed printing on rigid substrates helps give you that edge. Owning a flatbed printer doubles your service options. You can print on an odd arrangement of substrates, including, but not limited to, glass, metal, cardboard, plastic, and wood. Judy Wilson, president, Renaissance Creative Imaging, certainly learned this when she purchased her EFI/VUTEk PressVu 200/600 UV flatbed printer three years ago.
Renaissance Creative Imaging was created in 1990 after Wilson purchased it from the previous owner. Changing the name from Bjork Photofinishing, she created a successful commercial photographic and digital imaging company in Providence, RI.
Located on the edge of Providence, the 4,000-square-foot space holds ten employees who participate in the creation of a number of projects including large format graphics, trade show graphics, POP displays, museum graphics, and banners. The company’s output is 100 percent digital imaging and 75 percent of that is consumed by digital printing on rigid substrates.
Never Looking Back
It wasn’t too long ago that Wilson introduced rigid substrate printing into their mix of services. In 2002 she became attracted to flatbed printing, "At this time the majority of our work was being produced with 8x10 analog enlargers and RA-4 processors and our clients expected high quality imaging. I saw samples of the VUTEk PressVu 200/600 UV flatbed printer at a trade show and was impressed with the quality."
Wilson is no stranger to hardcore printing equipment. The company owns a variety of tools that help create their output—a Scitex scanner, a Noritsu QSS3101, a 12x18 digital photoprinter, an Epson StylusPro 10000, and a HP Designjet 5000 are just a few. So when she took the initiative and investigated the benefits of flatbed printing she was educated on what would and would not work.
After viewing the flatbed device at the trade show, Wilson visited the VUTEk facilities in Meredith, NH. Two years, later she purchased VUTEk’s PressVu 200/600 UV flatbed printer and as Wilson puts it, "never looked back."
The machine itself produces top notch output. "The VUTEk’s color management and ability and ease to match PMS colors and flesh tones is amazing," comments Wilson. Additionally, the VUTEk flatbed increased production and decreased not only the turnaround times, but also the cost to produce. With no need for adhesives or laminates Renaissance Creative Imaging’s sales around New England are soaring. "We’re capable of quicker turnaround times which translates to more sales and more profits," continues Wilson.
Ruling Rhode Island
Much of Renaissance Creative Imaging’s work is located throughout the greater area of RI. They service the Rhode Island Welcome Center, the Dunkin Donuts Center, and even the state’s major transit system—Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA).
Using their VUTEk PressVu 200/600 UV, they produced backlit signage and paneled images of picturesque RI to be displayed in the Welcome Center.
The flatbed printer is also used on a wide array of signage for Providence’s Dunkin Donuts Center, where the Providence College Friar’s men’s basketball team and the Providence Bruins hockey team both play, as well as countless other events such as concerts, exhibitions, and graduations are held. Not only were backlit signs created, but also seating section signs and even the scoreboard were constructed with the help of the VUTEk PressVu 200/600 UV. The scoreboard was directly printed onto clear polycarbonate and a translucent backer was applied to the finished piece. The seating signs were printed front to back on matte vinyl.
For RIPTA, signage for advertising was printed on adhesive backed vinyl and attached to both the sides and backs of the buses.
It’s Not That Easy
Now that Wilson has printed on rigid substrates for the past three years, she’s become a seasoned expert and experienced the many challenges that are involved with it.
For one thing, she’s found it can be touch and go when applying the right printing techniques to different substrates. According to Wilson you have to play around with curing and smoothing to get a result that is worthy of a final product. Also, she’s realized through trial and error that not all inks adhere to all substrates. Wilson says she still has some problems with plexi and coroplast. Lastly, she points out that mistakes are extremely costly. "For instance, if you’re printing a full sheet of half-inch plexi and you get some sort of printing error, you need to start over with a brand new board."
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
Recently, Wilson was faced with a unique project—using her VUTEk flatbed to print on mirrors. A nonprofit organization in RI that helps terminally or chronically ill children in conjunction with Hasbro Children’s Hospital asked Renaissance Creative Imaging if they could print their graphics for them. Children who had been or were still at Hasbro designed the graphics themselves. The images depict their experiences with the hospital and their illnesses.
The nonprofit organization wanted to print these graphics onto a material that was reflective. That way, the viewers could see themselves when looking at the finished project, and simultaneously become immersed in the children’s experiences.
Wilson and her team took the drawings that the children created and scanned them through her Scitex scanner. Then she printed the images onto three 4x8 mirrors with UV inks on the VUTEk PressVu 200/600 UV flatbed. Once finished, the three panels were installed in the lobby of Hasbro with liquid adhesive and tiled as one image.
The project was a fulfilling one. Wilson says that if you stand in Hasbro’s lobby and look at the mirrors the final outcome is "beautiful." Renaissance Creative Imaging plans to continue making an impact throughout New England with their tasteful products and eye for design.