By Cassandra Balentine
Window media transforms windows into canvasses for creativity. Depending on specific environments and the needs of the end user, these substrates are used to promote brands or products, manipulate vision and light in and out of the window, or provide privacy.
In addition to window media used for printed graphics, print service providers (PSPs) should consider window media for privacy applications. A range of options are available, including solutions created specifically for the purpose of adding privacy as well as general use medias printed in a way that provides privacy in addition to graphics. A combination of these options can present a practical solution with an appealing look.
Above: SEAL Easy Dot Clear/Matte is a printable vinyl that does not require any special tools or training to install.
Privacy and Print
Privacy media and printed materials complement each other in logistical and creative ways.
“Depending on the effect that the customer or interior designer wants to achieve with a space, a digitally printable graphic, frosted glass design, translucent effect, or privacy film is an ideal solution,” says Jeff Losch, North America marketing director, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions.
Jessica Stone, marketing specialist, Ritrama Inc., suggests that non-printable window materials offer a subtle privacy with elegant appeal and glass décor. “This look works nicely applied alone or can be complemented by a printable material that supports a need for more privacy,” she states.
“By incorporating printed materials and privacy media, you can create a mixed media design that sets your display apart from all the others while still achieving the desired privacy,” recommends Lily Hunter, product manager, textiles and consumables, Roland DGA Corporation. She says for retail applications, this enables a display that catches the consumer’s eye and entices them to come in. “In a sense, the combination of printable media and privacy media, such as etched glass film, serves as functional art—it’s not only attractive, it also serves a purpose.”
Darren Speizer, VP of sales and marketing, Drytac, agrees, noting that non-printed privacy media options play a large role in many applications—particularly architectural. “Non-printable films can complement printable materials in different settings, such as corporate and hospitality locations, where design elements may play a larger role.”
Casey Jones, associate product manager, SEAL, part of ACCO Brands, believes whether you are using privacy media for advertising and point of purchase (POP) in shop windows or as a partition between cubicles in an office space, printed material allows for customization. “You can brand a message or customize a decoration that perfectly adds to your space.”
“Having both printable and non-printable materials give the print provider an opportunity to offer customers multiple options for window décor,” adds Jeffrey Stadelman, market manager, Mactac Distributor Products.
Jim Halloran, VP, sales and marketing, Lintec of America, Inc., points out that in some cases, the same roll of materials can produce a graphic and privacy function. “Depending on how the customer wants to use the space, removable adhesives can be used to change these out frequently.”
A variety of businesses request privacy media solutions. Office buildings, government offices, hospitals, hotels, police stations, doctor and dentist offices, and airports are a few examples where privacy media is in demand.
Halloran finds that the types of customers that request privacy window media are primarily office environments. “In many cases companies are using open office plans and having small to midsize breakout rooms for groups of two to 12 people to meet. Rather than closing off the entire space with drywall it is easier to use privacy film on glass, it also lets more light into the office.”
John Coyne, sales manager, Lintec of America, adds that applications vary from office cubicles and conference rooms to hotels and restaurants. “Retail environments also have a need for privacy films to enhance advertising,” he continues.
Jones agrees, noting that often privacy film is seen in strip malls with vacant spaces to prevent passerbys from looking into a space that isn’t built out. “It can also be used in restaurants to create privacy and divide between tables and the bar. In corporate environments it is frequently used to create privacy and décor for a meeting room, office, or cubicle.”
The intended environment and end use of the media helps determine which product is selected. “Typically, translucent window films used to create private spaces allow light to enter, creating a comfortable, well-lit open feeling,” shares Stadelman.
Adding Privacy Options
PSPs benefit from stocking a variety of materials. Adding privacy media options to a product arsenal is an easy way to meet more customer demands.
“Having another media to offer customers for windows can expand sales. Additionally, building spaces that allow for collaboration—in offices and schools—are becoming popular. Privacy media can be used on removable walls and partitions to add privacy and décor to an office space,” says Jones.
Halloran points out that PSPs with UV or eco-solvent printing capabilities can offer customers ways to decorate glass for other architectural or POP purposes. “It is another higher value way to provide service to customers.”
Coyne adds that this type of privacy option for PSPs may provide the all-in-one solution that many customers appreciate. “It would serve to reduce the customers sourcing workload and may open up new opportunities in other markets for the PSP,” he explains.
PSPs benefit by becoming a one-stop shop for designers who want to combine different elements of window graphics. “This equates to more customers, increased business, and greater profits, while also allowing for expansion into different niche markets,” says Hunter. “Take vehicle wraps as an example, you can offer printable media, reflective vinyl, and colored cut vinyl, and all of those materials can be utilized in one car or truck wrap. Instead of simply printing out a phone number on the vehicle, you can incorporate cut vinyl for that section to ensure the best placement.”
Jake Oberle, marketing supervisor, window film and architectural finishes, 3M Commercial Solutions, shares that customers are asking for privacy solutions. “Customers are either seeking this solution or they want something made. Having both options is opening the door for more opportunities. Adding these materials also help print providers expand their current sales potential and optimize equipment or installation services—if their printers are already running at capacity and installation crews are underutilized, they can now accept jobs that will not impact print capacity, but help optimize installation capabilities,” he continues.
PSPs that stock and regularly use privacy window materials can recommend them in situations where they feel it could add value to the job. For those coming in the door looking for graphics, adding privacy media to the design may be attractive depending on the job at hand.
Losch suggests talking to the customer about what they’re trying to achieve. Finding the best solution is always ideal, so offering a full range of window and privacy options is beneficial. “Additionally, considerations such as the effect desired and budget may lead the customer to choose one product versus another. A single customer could incorporate graphic designs in certain areas of the business and privacy films in others,” he offers.
Stone believes there is always opportunity to explore upselling with your customer. “Take the time to listen to their goals and understand their business/environmental needs both now and in the future,” she urges.
For those requesting privacy media, adding printed graphics is another way to upsell, either printing to the privacy graphic itself, or adding graphics on top of a job meant to provide privacy.
Halloran says many customers can now print their own window graphics that provide privacy. “Many of our customers print a fine white mist embedded with logos or other graphics that let light through but do not allow for vision,” he explains.
Coyne adds that PSPs can now print a white front or mist around a graphic, image, or logo to provide a print solution with the dual purpose of privacy and promotion.
“Adding a little printing to the window for decorative purposes, like incorporating the company logo or a simple design to break up the privacy screen, offers options to the end user,” suggests Stadleman.
Printable privacy media allows the customer to customize or brand the graphic. “I would encourage a print provider to understand the purpose of the privacy media and then convey the benefits to the customer of personalizing the graphic for their space or to achieve their objective,” advises Jones.
“Printable material can be customized to support branding initiatives as well as the overall customer experience. Printed window graphics enable an end user to canvas unlimited spaces in their facility with visuals and messaging that creates a unique customer experience and speaks to their offering our business values,” says Oberle.
Products, Install, and Care
Several media providers offer substrates designed for providing privacy on windows, or can be printed in a way that provides privacy. Here we highlight a selection of these solutions and provide installation and cleaning tips.
3M FASARA Glass Finishes is a portfolio of decorative glass films that provide the look and feel of etched, cut sandblast, and textured glass. It requires a wet install.
Avery Dennison offers a portfolio of digitally printable media, such as opaque, perforated, translucent, and clear films that can be applied to interior windows for environmental aesthetics. Special effect films such as Avery Dennison SC 900 Series Etchmark and Frosted Sparkle can transform a window with a cut pattern or design or be used in combination of other films. In addition, translucent colored films can be used to create graphic window designs.
Retrofit switchable film, a new innovation from Avery Dennison, provides the option for privacy. The films use liquid crystal technology to switch from transparent to opaque with the touch of a hand. The product is not printable. Avery Dennison privacy and switchable films require a wet installation.
Drytac provides four printable products that provide privacy—ViziPrint Impress Clear, ViziPrint Deco, ViziPrint Illuminate, and SpotOn Matte Clear Frosted. ViziPrint Impress Clear is an ultra-clear PET film with a proprietary adhesion technology. ViziPrint Deco is an optically clear gloss PET film with a permanent acrylic adhesive that adheres to most substrates, including glass surfaces.
ViziPrint Illuminate is a translucent matte PET film that uses a mechanical bond to adhere graphics to glass and other smooth, flat surfaces. ViziPrint Illuminate is reverse printable, allowing for indoor and outdoor visibility of window graphics.
SpotOn Matte Clear Frosted is a monomeric PVC film with a dot patterned removable adhesive. The pattern allows for easy, bubble-free application of graphics to a range of substrates without the need for tools or wet application. It acts as a privacy film because of its opacity.
Lintec of America offers 14 different optically clear films, all of which have been printed and converted to privacy films. Another 15 films, which are either frosted or textured, are also printable. Installation of its film should be done with a soapy water solution. For cleaning, soap and water with a soft cloth is ideal and avoid harsh chemicals like Windex, which when it comes in contact with exposed adhesive can lead to edge lifting over a period of time.
The company also has a range of films where the viewing angle changes its degree of privacy, the VisionControlFilm (VCF) lineup. VCFs are designed to change from optically clear to frosted depending on the view or angle. Four different types are available that vary from clear in the center and frosted on the side to clear on the sides and frosted in the center.
Mactac supplies two different types of pressure-sensitive window decorative media, Glass Décor 700 for non-printed applications and IMAGin B-Free. Glass Décor 700 is translucent in nature with a frosted—acid etched type appearance, or dusted—sandblast effect finish. IMAGin B-Free Frosted, Dusted, and Clear air egress adhesive window films are designed for digital printing.
Ritrama offers the Crystal/Etch series, the crystal creates an appearance of sandblasted glass using its Frosted Crystal, while the Etch is a luster finish or glass Etch with a matte finish for a sandblasted look. The Crystal/Etch series can be applied to glass, acrylic, or polycarbonate.
Additionally, Ritrama’s Window Cal III is a white film that is metallized on one side and coated with a white pigmented adhesive to achieve opacity. The material is print to edge approved and allows eye-catching, two-way window graphics when using two components of the Window Cal Series. Window Cal III features a moderate peel removable solvent adhesive and can be applied both wet and dry.
SEAL Easy Dot Clear/Matte is a printable vinyl that does not require any special tools or training to install. Easy Dot Clear is well suited for frosted office partitions. SEAL Ultra Clear PET is not opaque, but with a printed graphic on glass can provide separation in office and restaurant environments. It is wet applied.
With the selection of window media options available to PSPs, it is a versatile platform. The ability to add privacy in addition to graphics is attractive to end users in a variety of environments, from offices to hotels and hospitals and even retail.
Feb2018, Digital Output