In most colleges and universities, students are not allowed to paint, drill, or puncture dorm walls. Tape and sticky putty are commonly used to mount posters, signs, and pictures. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) Printing & Mailing Services harnesses the power of digital printing and specialized wallpaper to allow students to jazz up dorm rooms without damaging the walls.
New Technology and Capability
UNH Printing & Mailing Services, located in Durham, NH, offers custom wallpaper for dorm room decoration with the addition of a 60-inch Hewlett-Packard (HP) Designjet L25500 printer and HP PVC-free Wall Paper.
The thermal inkjet printer uses HP’s proprietary, water-based latex ink, which produces odorless prints that emit low levels of volatile organic compounds, requiring no ventilation. It prints graphics for indoor and outdoor use and handles media up to 19.7-mil thick.
Initially, Paul Roberts, director, UNH Printing & Mailing Services, was attracted to the printer because of its eco-friendliness. “UNH has a strong commitment to sustainability,” he says.
Julie Pardus-Oakes, manager of prepress and copy operations, UNH Printing & Mailing Services, adds that sustainability is also important to customers. “They feel better about using latex inks and partially recycled paper. Plus HP offers a recycling program where they take back used ink cartridges and vinyl banners,” she explains.
The HP Designjet L25500 was purchased for a specific purpose. UNH annually holds an undergraduate research conference, which requires the in-plant to print hundreds of posters. “Our other wide format printers can’t keep up with larger file sizes, especially in a short amount of time. We wanted to increase the amount of processed posters and make the prices more attractive,” shares Pardus-Oakes.
Roberts says the speed of the printer is important. “It’s probably six times faster than what we were doing. With the research conference, everybody comes in at the last minute, they’re late and in a panic. That’s why we’re here—to help them through it,” he states.
The HP Designjet L25500 offers new services, allowing the print provider to expand into vinyl banners—something seen at universities across the country.
Since installation, the latex printer is used on a daily basis. Vinyl banner orders, projects with grommets, posters mounted on foamcore, perforated vinyl, and banners in retractable stands are all created. “We try not to refer to the HP Designjet L25500 as a poster printer because it can do so much more,” explains Roberts.
With the introduction of HP PVC-free Wall Paper, UNH Printing & Mailing Services now has a way to engage students on campus. The pre-pasted PVC-free wallpaper meets commercial wallcovering standards, is flame retardant, and odor free. In a matte finish, the wallpaper is 7-mil thick with 165 g/m2 weight, and it comes in 54-inch by 100-foot rolls.
“We were looking for ways to connect with the students other than just printing course packs once a semester. They don’t normally have a real need for our services; we mostly service the departments,” adds Roberts.
Spreading the Word
Roberts notes that once the printing staff knew how to use the new printer and work with the wallpaper they were ready to offer it to students. However, there was one catch, the in-plant does not have its own marketing staff or budget.
UNH Printing & Mailing Services enlisted senior marketing students at the university’s business school to help promote the wallpaper to the undergraduate student population. The seniors’ graded project for the semester is to come up with a campaign for selling the custom printed wallpaper.
At press time, this project was in full stride. “We hold periodic meetings with the students, focus groups, and we printed some of their photos on the wallpaper so they could show friends,” says Pardus-Oakes.
The students have planned a few events in the student union where samples are available. “We need to get out there and let people know that we have it,” she continues. “Looking ahead to next year, we’ll be at freshmen orientation and promote to new students at the very beginning of the school year.”
Working directly with the student body helps the printing team connect with their target audience. “We spoke to a developer of the HP wallpaper product. He is working on putting together a downloadable library of images. He was in the same boat; he wasn’t really sure what the college kids want. This gives us a chance to hear students’ input,” explains Roberts.