Buildings wrapped in digitally printed graphics command immeasurable audience attention by developing brand recognition, promoting new products and events, and masking construction and other projects.
Scott McLean, CEO, DI Graphics, located in Wheat Ridge, CO, states that typical building wrap customers are consumer product manufacturers looking for captive exposure to specific demographics. Here, we investigate the requirements of producing and installing successful building wraps.
What It Takes
Building wraps are not for the inexperienced. They require a skilled print house that can handle tiling, printing, handling, and finishing on a grand scale; the intricacies of printing on mesh; managing permits; and supervising installation.
Days are rarely dull in a building wrap shop. Each job is different and demands close attention. “The great thing about building wraps is that every one of them is unique. None are the same size, use the same amount of ink or material, or are engineered the same way for installation,” states Jason Cardonick, president, Big Mountain Imaging. With 12 years of experience in the business, Big Mountain Imaging services building wrap customers across the country from production facilities in Philadelphia, PA and Las Vegas, NV.
A shop needs to plan ahead before diving into a building wrap. Big Mountain Imaging consults architects, engineers, and even consumable suppliers to discuss the best plan of attack for a particular project. It is also crucial to collect mandatory permissions from building owners, historical neighborhood groups, and government agencies before production begins on a building wrap.
Approximately 15 percent of Big Mountain Imaging’s total work volume is in building wraps, and the bulk are for casinos, advertising agencies, and clients looking to clean their outer building façades. The company uses media from 3M Graphics Market Center. They print on mesh using an EFI VUTEk 5330 printer and on window perforated film with adhesive back using an EFI VUTEk QS3200 printer. In both cases, they use inks from INX Digital International Co. Cardonick says the inks perform flawlessly.
“Typical turnaround depends on square footage, but recently we completed a complete building wrap close to 4,000 square feet in an 16 hour time period, as installation was time sensitive,” says Cardonick.
Getting It Right
Often used in retail, entertainment, hospitality, and sports industries, building wraps are a big investment for marketers. To warrant the expense, wrap providers must work hard to sell wraps and support customers through the production process. “There is a tremendous value placed on client service in the consultation and fabrication phases of the project,” explains Cardonick.
Although building wraps are seen from afar and often viewed while on the move, color accuracy, print quality, and resolution are still important. Correct color is essential, especially for brand owners and those creating multi-channel campaigns. McLean says high-quality demands are, “based on customer expectations and in coordination with other components of a campaign.” The over 80 year old company specializes in marketing services, mobile direct response, and alternative outdoor media, with 15 percent of production being building wraps. DI Graphics manages the entire building wrap process, from print to install and removal. They use 3M media and an EFI VUTEk solvent inkjet printer and offer a lead time of approximately seven days.
Color matching is critical at the proofing stage. “You don’t want to realize you didn’t match the proof after you run 20,000 square feet of material and put it on a building 200 feet in the air,” says Cardonick. Big Mountain Imaging has stringent quality control systems in place, along with G7 certification to ensure color accuracy.
Big Mountain Imaging’s printers are rated for high speeds, but the shop tends to run the machines at slower speeds to produce the best quality output. “We find that the extra time spent running the machine outweighs the negative of spending a little more money on ink. Our number one goal is satisfied clients who will buy from us again and recommend us to colleagues,” states Cardonick.
Whether in-house or outsourced, certified and insured professionals must install the building wrap. This ensures safety, compliance, and proper installation without any waste.
Big Mountain Imaging prints and installs building wraps using its own 3M certified and repel trained teams for projects ranging from 1,200 to over 30,000 square feet.
To ease installation for the field team, Big Mountain Imaging pieces sections of the graphic material. “On adhesive backed products we typically work with 48- to 54-inch wide panels, as is the accepted industry standard,” says Cardonick.
Installation needs vary depending on the building, weather conditions, and local regulations. Projects will shut down if weather conditions are unsafe or heat or cold are detrimental to the longevity of the wrap. Some wraps require closures to streets or businesses, permissions, special installation time or day, and potential traffic or police detail.
Print providers unlock tremendous opportunity by expanding into building wraps. They can profit by providing graphics that advertise, promote, and mask on a sky-high scale.
Shops with years of print experience excel with building wraps. Grand format printers, media and ink, color management, and finishing devices; a strong sales force and a well-trained in-house print staff; a qualified installation team, and permissions all contribute to success.
For more guidance on building wraps and to see some exciting applications, read the feature story in the December issue of Digital Output.
Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, Potential and Production.