Floor graphics are an ideal way to grab a consumer’s attention without being too showy. Every store, restaurant, or venue has a floor. It is easy to work with a print service provider (PSP) to create eye-catching graphics that lead the viewer to a new product, limited promotion, or perhaps an event or exhibit. Depending on the purpose, floor graphics are a helpful guide in an inventive way.
Lake Erie Graphics Inc., based in Cleveland, OH, regularly offers floor graphics to its client base. In Fall 2011 they created this application for The Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare in downtown Cleveland, OH. The graphics guided patrons through an alternative route to theaters while construction took place on a new theater. As the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York, NY the non-profit utilizes the arts to engage individuals and attract over one million guests per year to more than 1,000 annual events.
Established in 1990, Lake Erie’s shop includes 30 employees that help offer offset and digital printing—including roll-to-roll inkjet up to three meters wide and flatbed UV printing, and full bindery and fulfillment. Popular services include vehicle wraps, vinyl decals and lettering, trade show displays, signs, and banners. The PSP’s print space runs about 30,000 square feet, which is about half of the total space in the shop.
Jim Dietz, president, Lake Erie, explains it has been printing floor graphics for about 19 years, the first 15 of which they printed using offset equipment. It introduced digital print five years ago and floor graphics are now five percent of its overall offerings. Customers include retail stores, manufacturing plants, banks, supermarkets, institutions, and hospitals. Most of the work is installed by Lake Erie as well.
For the PlayhouseSquare project MACtac Graphic Products IMAGin StreetRap media was used. It is a 3-mil intermediate vinyl with a permanent acrylic adhesive and a matte finish. The product is designed for short-term floor graphics—up to three months outdoors—on concrete, asphalt, and other smooth to slightly textured surfaces. The PSP primarily uses MACtac media, mainly for its printability, durability, and ease of installation, according to Dietz.
To print the floor graphics, a Roland DGA Corporation SOLJET PRO device was used with Roland ECO-SOL MAX eco-solvent ink. This was chosen based on the need for a high-quality print that simultaneously offers great outdoor durability. After printing, the floor graphics were laminated with MACtac PermaFlex PF6300. Dietz explains it was necessary to protect the graphics because of the heavy foot traffic in the area.
Nine, single die cut graphics were created from designs by Karen Skunta & Company. Three measured 14x45 inches and six 38-inch diameter circles. Each piece was adhered to a concrete floor using rubber pressure rollers and torches to heat the material to help bonding. Prior to installation the surface was cleaned by a power washer, dried, etched, and ensured it was wax free. It took four hours to prep the sidewalk for the installation and another four hours to install the graphics with two people.
While this wasn’t the biggest floor graphics project Lake Erie has undertaken, it still provided challenges. Dirty sidewalks prevented installation from occurring right away, heavy commuter traffic during the install was bothersome, and the weather didn’t cooperate. Despite these issues, the overall product was applied successfully and the client was pleased with the results.
Lake Erie is just one of many PSPs offering floor graphics. In this example, graphics were designed, printed, and installed with the ultimate purpose of guiding patrons to where they needed to go during a construction phase. This series will profile two more floor graphic projects, each created with different goals in mind.