The Honorable Mention winner of our first ever Application of the Year contest is Klages Kreations of Oviedo, FL. Its promotional effort, which involved printing its logo onto a collection of skis, is an ideal example of innovation found throughout the industry.
The company began in 1995 as an embroidery and digitizing company, and then expanded into tackle twill and chenille. As recent as 2011, Klages added digital printing with heat transfer and decals. Local clients include schools and businesses as well as embroiders across the U.S. that require digitizing and decals. It focuses on identifying customers’ needs in regards to their corporate or personal image. All printing is conducted in a 110 square foot space, which is about 25 percent of the work area.
Klages Kreations specifically created the ski wrap project for the recent Roland DGA Corporation Creative Awards Contest. Taking the company logo, they found five pairs of skis—each of varying heights and ages—with the goal of creating a unified look. To accomplish this, Klages Kreations printed the logo entwined with gold scrollwork and snowflakes to simulate wind blowing through and around the lettering. Then, they did mockups of the logo on red, royal, and forest green backgrounds. Customers coming in and out of the shop voted on which they liked best—with red the winner.
Using a Roland VersaCAMM VS-420 allowed the company to print with metallic and white ink, adding silver and gold to both the logo and snowflakes on the graphic. Eco-SOL Max inks provided a permanent and vibrant final product, with the colors printed exactly to the specifications chosen using the Roland color palette. It took seven hours to print the skis in a layered metallic mode and then a day to dry the art before a laminate was added. In addition, with the VersaCAMM’s cutting abilities, Klages Kreations cut and print all on one device to save time.
For media, Klages Kreations turned to Arlon Graphics, LLC’s DPF 6000XRP cast vehicle wrap. This was chosen because the skis would be exposed to extreme temperatures. In addition, the air release liner made it easy to minimize air bubbles while they were wrapping the skis. They also laminated the final graphic with Arlon overlaminate.
Wrapping was a new experience for Klages Kreations and the process took them about a half a day. “Most of our applications are on a much smaller scale, so wrapping the skis was a bit tricky, especially trimming where the sharp metal edges of the skis meet the non-metal edges. Special care needed to be taken to keep the transitions smooth so that there would be no place for the wrap to get caught and lifted,” explains Carolyn Klages, owner, Klages Kreations. The bindings were removed, existing damage on the skis was sanded out on areas to be wrapped, the skis wrapped, then the bindings remounted with the help of a ski tech.
After they were wrapped, a crew of people went up to Banff National Park in Canada to conduct photo shoots with the skis and even use them. The material was very durable and the only thing Klages would change is adding a thicker, more durable laminate—as people running into the skis in the lift lines tended to scrape off the thinner laminate.
If the graphic wasn’t laminated, Klages says it wouldn’t have made for a pretty picture. “The edges of the vinyl would be shaved as if sliced with a thousand X-acto blades, and then the art would peel off the ski from the edges. After a single run down the slopes, one can imagine how torn up the sides of the skis would look if they weren’t protected.”
The experience was enjoyable. Those skiing on the mountain kept receiving compliments on the artwork and once a few viewers caught on that the skis were part of a bigger picture many mountain attendees started searching for every ski. “We had people taking cell phone pictures of our skis the whole week trying to get all five pairs to see what it said,” exclaims Klages.
Klages Kreations’ ski creation is an untraditional application, which is why the company believes it was nominated for the Application of the Year awards. The complexity of working with different sized skis, making sure the logo popped, and the creativity required to design with metallic elements all make it a project for an experienced print provider.
“I think the project stretches the industry to think outside the box about what you can do with your printers. By thinking outside traditional print applications, doing projects like this for customers, we can increase their visibility as well as our own,” concludes Klages.