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Enviro-Friendly Inks—Providing Grand Alternatives

Big Changes for The BIG Print

By Alexis Golini

The BIG Print LLC trademarked its BioGraphix solution, which uses EFI’s VUTEk BioVu inks, as soon as it fired up an environmentally-friendly printer. Company president, Jonathan Zinsmeyer says that he, "knew it was a solution we would be able to offer not only to our direct customers, but to our wholesale clients as well. We’ve been doing traditional fleet graphics only since 2001 but we’ve done a fair amount of them. And we’ve had a very high success rate so it only made sense to offer an eco-friendly version. To be the first to do anything is always a little risky but nowadays if you’re not going to be the first, you’re just going to stand around."

Jon began The BIG Print LLC in California in 1999. "It was actually just me in my garage with a 72-inch-wide, 8-color MacDermid ColorSpan printer. At the time, this printer was the newest best thing because people weren’t really doing extended CMYK," Jon explains. "I launched the company with large format prints and stuck with them. They’re all we sell."

Soon after his start, Jon began targeting a lot of the architectural and construction companies in the area with directional signage. The company expanded into the outdoor market when Jon became 3M Scotchprint Graphics Certified in 2001.

"From there, we grew to own a huge array of printers—[all VUTEk] a PressVu 180 UV flatbed, a PressVu 200, a 5330 5-meter, the 3360 3-meter, and a Nur Fresco 3-meter. We also have a full line of Hewlett-Packard (HP) solvent- and aqueous-based devices—the 5000, 5500, and 9000," Jon continues. "And we still use them all, depending on the project."

"Typically, we purchase a new piece of machinery every six months. We have a tendency to listen to what our clients want and then purchase machinery that pertains to that demand—rather than entering a market we know nothing about and hoping for the best. Our customers know we will grow with them and find the solution that they need," Jon explains.

A Hand In Every Pot
The BIG Print’s main site is a manufacturing facility and sales office in Seattle that opened in 2005. However, it has sales offices in Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Francisco as well. With such growth, the company now has four main divisions—fleet, grand format, retail, and its trademarked BioGraphix. At the moment, Jon says the most lucrative area of The BIG Print is, "retail, followed by outdoor grand format or fleet graphics—depending on the time of year. We obviously do a lot more outdoor work in the summer, such as building wraps, festival signage, stage backdrops, etc."

The company promotes its services mostly through, "account executives who are out in the field," Jon states. "We also do some advertising in publications and direct-mail pieces to current customers. We try to target certain niche markets with our newest product lines."

"A fair amount of our business is resold. So in certain markets, us doing direct advertising can actually hinder our client’s business. So we sway away from that in certain markets," shares Daniel Zinsmeyer, VP of marketing.

The BIG Print does all its design work in-house. "We have a design team of five people. I wouldn’t say we are a full-service design firm, but anything that is grand format, we can design. Our staff also does internal marketing pieces such as brochures and flyers for our advertising agencies." Jon clarifies that they do not limit themselves to one particular software solution. "We use everything, from Quark to Adobe, depending on the application."

With such an expansive operation, the company can’t do everything in-house. Installation of its grand format print work is one task that is done out of house. "We work with Vinyl Solution, Inc. and they handle all of our installations exclusively. They coordinate everything for us, whether its one car wrap, 50 trailers, a building wrap, or retail banners across the country. They are professionals so the added value that they give us as far as organizing and making sure the graphics get there on time and that the installers know exactly what to do saves us ten-fold."

The main product in The BIG Print’s BioGraphix division is its trademarked BioWrap, a car wrap solution using VUTEk BioVu ink by EFI and various PVC-free pressure sensitive vinyl such as 3M’s 3545C or Dickson Coatings’ Evergreen line. The BioWraps are printed strictly on the VUTEk 3360, which has been profiled for the ink. "You can’t print on just any machine with BioVu ink. Its 80 percent corn, so it’s a different consistency," says Jon.

The BIG Print has only been offering this BioGraphix solution for approximately two months so not many of its customers have made a 100 percent switch from solvent. The solution is attracting more unique applications business right now such as wallpaper murals for retail customers and hotels.

"We find that more people, if given the option to have an environmental solution, and it is not going to be a significant impact on the budget, that they’ll take that solution. We’re giving the BioWraps a two- to three-year life, verses the five-year for the traditional wraps. But the response we get from most clients is that they will change their product line [and wrap graphics] by then anyway," Jon continues.

The BIG Print is still testing the bio process and reports that the biggest challenge has been building the market. "Some people don’t know that bio-based printing is even possible. We’re helping the industry learn that there are multiple earth-friendly solutions out there. There is a lot of waste with printing traditional graphics. Customers want to be able to recycle that and now they can. Recycling banner vinyl is a very new thing and people love it!" Jon says.

The company’s most recent BioWrap job was a large trailer for McNear Brick and Block, a masonry company with 100 locations across the U.S. "We’ve been doing point of purchase displays for them for about three years and also some fleet wraps from time to time. We recently did one of their promotional trailers that they drive to deliver as well as showcase their product line. They realize that fleet graphics do work and they were very interested in an eco-friendly solution," says Jon. The trailer was printed with the VUTEk BioVu inks by EFI on the VUTEk 3360 on 3M’s 3545 PVC-free vinyl without any problems.

Although its wrap services has taken off, The BIG Print’s biggest growth area has always been the retail division and now they hope their bio line will add to the growth. They religiously mention it to all of their customers.

The company has no immediate plans to expand their print services at the moment. "We enjoy doing wholesale, selling to agencies and print brokers, but we are also growing our corporate division. I’d like to open another plant, possibly in Hawaii. I have also looked at East Coast locations, possibly New York or Miami, so that’s not out of the question either," says Jon.

Sep2006, Digital Output

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