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Applications of the Year

Examples of a Rejuvenated Industry

Part 3 of 3

By Kim Crowley

Our annual State of the Industry report highlights products, influences, and applications transforming the large format print industry. Here, several market leaders share applications that stand out or feature new opportunities for the large format print provider.

 

Going New Places

Print applications are finding their way to new surfaces—from floors to wallpaper. “The year 2010 is about doing things bigger, better, and different,” states Rick Moore, director of marketing, MACtac Graphic Products. “Products like MACtac RoughRap allow customers to promote events, products, and services in places that used to be untapped and plain.”

 

A 28x28-foot wall mural on the outside of the Center of Signs & Industry building in Columbus, OH, promotes the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit. The mural, designed by Pebbles Creative Group of Dublin, OH, was printed and installed by American Colorscans, located in Worthington, OH. American Colorscans used a Hewlett-Packard Designjet 9000 six-color solvent printer on MACtac RoughRap wall wrapping film, laminated the finished graphic with PERMACOLOR RAYZor 1.5-mil cast laminate, and installed the mural in four panels. 

 

Beyond Posters

Large format print service providers (PSPs) use their equipment to produce more than banners and posters. Flatbed print and sublimation devices allow them to create custom retail and promotional gifts, circuit boards, decor, textiles, packaging, and more.

 

“Customers are seeking out new ways to fill market needs,” notes Dean Derhak, product director, ONYX Graphics, Inc., referencing small, flatbed printed candy tins produced by Photocenter Imaging of Burbank, CA. The tin lids were placed on the Océ North America Arizona 350 XT flatbed printer, which uses ONYX ProductionHouse RIP software, and printed with the White Ink Option.

 

“This application demonstrates both printer versatility and innovation on the part of the print provider,” says Randy Paar, display graphics product manager, Océ.

 

For another project, Photocenter Imaging used its flatbed printer to create high-end packaging boxes for Cowgirl Cupcakes. “This is another example of customers expanding their services using existing equipment,” shares Derhak. 

 

New Markets

New markets are discovering what large format print technology can accomplish. Impact Label Corporation of Kalamazoo, MI, celebrates 45 years in the identification and labeling solutions business, producing pressure-sensitive, control panel, and overlay labels, as well as decals and product identification products.

 

Makers of the Mako Pro Series system for cleaning million-gallon fish tanks needed a 30x30-inch overlay produced on polyvinyl formal film. Matt Berry, Impact Label, estimates that setting up the necessary tools to die cut the job would have cost several thousand dollars. To cut production costs, Impact Label ran the four-color overlay on a Roland DGA Corporation VersaUV LEC-300 printer/cutter, laminated it using .003 millimeter velvet-textured polycarbonate, and ran it back through the Roland to cut. Impact Label was able to run the job using the VersaUV for approximately half the cost of a traditional die cut process, according to Berry. 

 

“This is a good example of how wide format inkjet technologies are being deployed into new markets, providing these users with benefits beyond those of their traditional production technologies,” explains Rick Scrimger, VP/GM, Roland.


Olympic Feats

Perhaps one of the most important large format graphics applications of the past 12 months—based on sheer volume—was marked by the Olympics in Vancouver this past February. The event featured digitally printed graphics using equipment and materials from several manufacturers.

 

The official supplier of large format building and vehicle wraps for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, 3M Canada was instrumental in helping the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Games (VANOC) transform Vancouver with print. More than 200,000 square feet of graphics on buildings and vehicles were provided by the company.

 

One of the largest applications involved wrapping sponsor BC Lottery Corporation’s headquarters with a 40-foot tall goalie. Similarly, a 44,000 square foot image covered the Royal Bank of Canada—an application believed to be one of the largest building wraps in the world.

 

Over 80 kilometers of fence fabric produced for the Olympics was printed on Hollanders Printing Systems’(HPS) ColorBooster XL 320s and ColorFix XL 320 wide format direct to textile printers by The Look Company, of Canada.

 

In addition, the environment was specifically considered in production for the Olympic graphics. “When the Olympic organizing committee set out to find PSPs, they had a clear vision on making it the ‘greenest’ Olympics ever,” says Roland Biemans, sales and marketing manager, HPS.


3M wanted to help uphold VANOC’s sustainability platform by finding a way to recycle the material after the games finished.

 

Industry experts believed that recycling the graphics was unfeasible, but the company found a solution with Mannington Commercial. Leveraging its experience in repurposing various building materials into hard surface flooring, Mannington developed the first known way of recycling post-use adhesive-backed graphic materials. The innovative company discovered that the graphics worked well as a substitute binding agent to help limestone and other materials in flooring tiles stick together.

 

Across the Pond

Niggemeyer Bildproduktion GmbH & Co. KG, of Germany, uses an EFI VUTEk QS3250r to produce a variety of work, from wallcoverings to fine art. Recently they have done a lot of work involving décor. Which Roland Niggemeyer, from the firm, foresees as a popular niche.

 

I believe indoor architectural applications are becoming more interesting by the use of different materials with special finishing. Architects are astonished about the possibilities that come out of digital printing,” he comments.

One customer, Hairkiller—a hair salon, requested a complete set of wallcoverings created from Neschen Americas wallpaper. The particular product chosen featured a sand structure finish. The project was printed on the shop’s QS3250r.

 

Niggemeyer also created a backlit ceiling for a conference/eating area in an office suite, totaling ten by 20 meters in area. The image was printed on Dynajet material on the QS3250r. Edge finishing was done with PVC seaming because the prints were then pressed into an aluminum frame.

 

Stylish Vehicles

Visitors of Epson’s trade show booth might have noticed the wrapped Lamborghini by SkinzWraps, Inc. of  Dallas, TX. The print provider printed the design at the highest resolution possible, 1,440x1,440 dpi on their Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 printer. Originally, the team at SkinzWraps believed the printer would not be able to come close to reproducing several of the planned colors. Over the head of the car is a yellow-orange and pink confetti pattern with tendrils of blue-violet smoke, all against a pitch-black background. The Stylus Pro’s wide color gamut offered exactly what the company was hoping to achieve.

 

“Like a fine-tuned Ferrari, the new Epson printer is joining the race at a great advantage, already ahead of the pack as it accelerates from 720x720 to 1,440x1,440 dpi. Without a doubt, the Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 is a game changer in the vehicle wrap world,” says Peter C. Salaverry, CEO, SkinzWraps.

 

Salaverry credits the ability of the printer to run without supervision for long periods of time. The ColorBurst Professional Production RIP allows an operator to leave the shop overnight, with a RIP full of printers, and come back the next morning to multiple finished jobs.

State of the Industry

This series focuses on innovation in the form of products and applications. Both are excellent examples of the rejuvenation found throughout the graphic arts in the last year. Vendors are cautiously confident in the upswing and predict more success in 2011 and beyond. Read more and view images from the applications mentioned here in our August print issue.


Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, State of the Industry.
Click here to read Part 2 of this exclusive online series, Innovations of the Year.



Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Jul2010, Digital Output StateoftheIndustry10

 

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