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Versatile Vinyl

Media Serves a Range of Applications

By Amber E. Watson

The durability of vinyl makes it a common choice for many applications. Several manufacturers offer vinyl as well as non-vinyl films to help protect digital output from abrasion, provide greater longevity, and aid installation.

 

Print service providers (PSPs) rely on vinyl and film to produce skate ramps to fleet wraps to end-to-end marketing campaigns. At an affordable cost, the added benefits and peace of mind supplied by this media make it an easy decision for many busy print shops.

 

The market is well served by vendors. 3M Commercial Graphics, Arlon Graphics, LLC, Avery Dennison Graphics and Reflective Solutions, Better Life Technology, LLC, Cooley/Group, Fellers, FDC Graphic Films, Inc., FLEXcon, Hexis S.A., LexJet Corporation, MACtac Graphic Products, Oracal USA, Renolit, Ritrama, RTape Corp., Top Value Fabrics, Ultraflex Systems. Inc., and Value Vinyls, Inc. are all major players. The following profiles PSPs using vinyl and/or film, relying on it to create a variety of applications.

 

Durable and Affordable

The media of choice for four year old design studio and print company, Gamut Media, is Oracal’s vinyl adhesive ORAJET 3165 Intermediate Grade Calendered PVC Digital Media. “We use it for a variety of projects including window graphics, vehicle decals, board mounts, stickers, and labels,” says Phillip Yu, creative director, Gamut Media. It also keeps 3M media in stock.

 

Gamut Media relies heavily on vinyl because it provides durability at an affordable price. Over the years, Yu and his team tried many products, but ultimately decided to stick with ORAJET 3165 due to the thickness of the adhesive. “It’s not too thin, so it is it easy to handle,” he states. “The material also takes on ink exceptionally from both our Roland DGA Corporation eco-solvent and our Hewlett-Packard (HP) latex printers.”

 

Scuff-Free Skate Ramp

Four employees work from Gamut Media’s 2,000 square foot facility in Brea, CA, which serves a diverse range of clientele from retail stores and restaurants to small businesses and large corporations. Most, but not all, customers are local. Along with indoor and outdoor signage, window films, and retail display boards, the company is occasionally asked to produce a unique application such as a skateboard ramp, and vinyl’s durable properties make it a good fit.

 

Repeat client, Related Grey, a motion graphics studio, recently approached Gamut Media to wrap a half pipe in their office. The studio wanted to showcase a graphic designed to look like a soccer field, which featured a play on their logo at the center. Gamut Media has produced draping banners, window graphics, dirt bike wraps, phone skins, backlit film, and board mounts for the company.

 

The first step in creating a skateboard ramp is building a frame, and then laying down thin wood pieces as the ramp’s flooring. Before Gamut Media laid the flooring, it was wrapped with the printed vinyl. “Since we had to wet mount it, we were concerned it might warp the wood, but the process went smoothly,” shares Yu.

 

Three center panels were produced at 48x96 inches. Two outer panels at 24x96 inches were printed from a Roland VersaCAMM SP-540 with eco-solvent ink on Oracal’s vinyl adhesive ORAJET 3165, and laminated with ORAGUARD 210 PVC Laminating Film. Laminate was used to protect the print against scuffmarks from skateboarders. “We were originally concerned that a glossy finish laminate would be slippery, so we decided to go with matte,” says Yu. “We were also worried that the laminate wouldn’t be strong enough to protect it, but after months of skating the wrap is holding up well.”

 

Application Specific Media

Based out of Fort Wayne, IN, electrical sign manufacturer and digital print graphics producer, Creative Sign Resources (CSR), uses MACtac IMAGin B-free JT5529BFD Pro for general vehicle wraps, GRUV GV529BFD for temporary point of purchase (POP) graphics, IMAGin RoughRAP for textured wall applications, and IMAGin StreetRAP for temporary sidewalk graphics.

 

After a decade in business, the shop knows what media is best for them and how to make it work. “The quality of the product for the price equates to high value in our minds,” says Rick Stemmler, art director, CSR, who works from the 10,000 square foot facility with 25 employees.

 

Stemmler admits that one downside to having so much application-specific media available is the need to keep a large selection and quantity of media in stock. Also, application-specific films require knowledge of certain installation techniques. This is the reason CSR invests in training its installers and maintains Professional Decal Application Alliance Master Certified installer status.

 

Local Hospital Livens up

When a local hospital system planned to open a new billion dollar regional medical complex, CSR offered its services. It was contracted by out-of-home (OOH) firm Enspire OOH Media. Parkview Regional Medical Center wished to capitalize on OOH marketing opportunities, as well as traditional television, radio, and print outlets. The goal was to promote the new complex and its services, and to inform people that the hospital’s original location would remain open.

 

The project consisted of tabletop graphics, elevator and escalator wraps at a mall, a storefront wrap at an outdoor mall, sidewalk graphics at various locations throughout the city, and city bus graphics.

 

Such a variety of applications required the use of many different products. CSR used the same media for all the indoor mall applications. “MACtac’s GRUV GV529BFD with its air egress adhesive made for a quick, flawless application indoors,” says Stemmler. IMAGin StreetRAP with its aggressive adhesive is necessary for application to concrete sidewalks. IMAGin RoughRAP is a film with an aggressive adhesive, making it an ideal candidate for brick wall applications.

 

Stemmler cautions that applying to textured surfaces requires its own installation techniques. “Using heat and dense foam rollers, the graphics are worked down into the texture of the brick and mortar creating the appearance of being painted on,” he explains. “Weather may also prove challenging, as it is imperative that the surface of sidewalks and textured walls be completely dry prior to installation.”

 

CSR enjoyed a large window of time to complete the project. First, artwork files were sent from the hospital’s marketing firm. CSR prepared the graphics for final output and printed them in house. Installation was broken up by location. The indoor mall was scheduled for one night, the outdoor mall for another day, bus graphics over several days, and finally, the sidewalk graphics were installed in one day.

 

All graphics were printed using Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 printers and laminated with MACtac’s suggested overlaminates.

 

One Vinyl Fits All

Chris Prenovost, VP, AZ Pro Signs, Inc., uses 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3 for the production of fleet wraps, but the uses for this product do not stop there. Located in Avondale, AZ, AZ Pro produces durable fleet wraps as well as window graphics, POP displays, and temporary decals with the same material.

 

By utilizing it across a variety of applications, the PSP saves on inventory and provides greater consistency. Also, for shops like AZ Pro that employ large printers, utilizing one roll to print multiple jobs means less waste in material reloading. It also helps in avoiding color shifts and maintaining consistency.

 

While some shy away from products on the higher end of the price scale, Prenovost says the cost is worth it. “I pay for quality material because it is reliable, and I can charge for a better product and service.”

 

One advantage of film is easy install and change out. AZ Pro recently wrapped a fleet of black police cars, which needed white doors that could be eventually changed. White film offered a more cost-effective solution than a permanent paint job. “By purchasing colored vinyl from the manufacturer, PSPs avoid the difficult task of printing a solid color, which shows imperfections easily,” shares Prenovost.

 

Multi-Use Media

JCB of Phoenix, a new and used construction and equipment dealer, recently purchased another company in Phoenix, AZ and needed to rebrand its vehicles as well as the office to match the corporate message. “They wanted a consistent look across all of their branding,” says Prenovost. “They also wanted to offer shading from the sun on the office windows, while simultaneously utilizing that space for advertising and brand reinforcement.”

 

Using 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3, AZ Pro produced eight truck wraps as well as window graphics for JCB. Printing was performed on an HP Scitex LX800.

 

Based on the project, different overlaminates were used. 3M Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518 is ideal for vehicle wraps, while the 3M Scotchcal Ultra-Matte Overlaminate 8915 works well on windows to reduce glare.

 

The media installed well across all applications. “The combinations worked excellent on the vehicle wraps, with superior conformability. It brought attention to the building and helped tie in their brand,” explains Prenovost. Using the same material across applications when it is possible offers additional uniformity.

 

Add Value with Vinyl and Film

PSPs rely on the benefits of vinyl and films to provide customers with the best possible output at an affordable price. As outlined in the examples above, whether for a skate ramp, a fleet of cars, or an organization’s OOH marketing campaign, film and vinyl add value to the finished product.

 

Mar2013, Digital Output

 
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