By Cassandra Balentine
Many big brands thrive on their reputation, and therefore each time logos and other noteworthy branding is recreated, it must be done to spec. Thanks to advancements in flatbed media handling more print service providers (PSPs) expand their offerings and print directly to a range of materials—from traditional foamcore to increasingly popular corrugated board—and guarantee this demand is met.
Hal Leader opened up a service bureau in 1968, mainly providing typesetting for banks and advertising agencies in Buffalo, NY. Taking on the name of PrintLeader, today the PSP focuses on producing specialty graphics and services for a series of markets, including retail, banking, corporate, sports, and gaming.
Additionally, it boasts nationwide installations of murals, vehicle and fleet wraps, large-scale building wraps and banners, and signage.
To produce this range of output, the PSP operates a variety of printing and finishing equipment, including two swissQprint Impala printers, a pair of HP Inc. latex printers, and a Gerber Technology cutter. In addition, the shop utilizes software from Caldera.
Its two Impalas were purchased in 2011 and 2012. The UV printers offer six colors plus white. Bill Paulot, president/CEO, PrintLeader, says the printers were selected due to the superior quality and performance over the competition, which he believes is still true today.
PrintLeader shopped around before investing in the swissQprint Impalas. Due to its clientele, it needed a device that could print high-quality graphics and offered an expanded six-color configuration plus white.
Although production speed is important to the print provider, it is quality that ultimately drives its decisions. “Most companies look at speed and four-color configurations. We do a lot of color-critical work. Color is everything to our clients. A six-color machine is the only way to do that right,” adds Paulot.
In Good Fun
PrintLeader’s flatbed print equipment enables output to a variety of media options. One of the more fun applications the shop creates is life-sized standees. Primarily, these graphics are printed on high-end media including Gatorboard, Dibond, Sintra, or Komatex.
A recent standee project involved corrugated media at the request of a loyal customer, a local hat company. Each year, the apparel provider attends the Comic-Con International convention held in San Diego, CA. This year, it requested life-sized standees of Darth Vader from Star Wars to help generate attention for a Star Wars themed line of hats.
The customer submitted the character file, and PrintLeader created two, 38×78-inch standees. The job was produced on a swissQprint Impala on C-flute corrugated media using Sun Chemical Corporation’s SunJet UVcurable inks. It was cut on a Gerber M-3000 flatbed cutting system.
Eric Leader, print operations manager, PrintLeader, says the Impala devices provide superior quality and the ability to print on the delicate material.
Although the shop generally recommends producing standees on sturdier media for durability and quality reasons, the C-flute corrugated media was selected because the client wanted to fold it in half for more cost-effective shipping.
In addition to the actual printing, cutting is essential to the profitability of the job. “We utilize an automatic cutter, which reads print control dots that are added to the file. It will cut the job no matter what material is used,” explains Paulot.
The turnaround was about 48 hours and they were used for the duration of the Comic-Con event.
A few years back, the shop helped dress six grain silos into what resembles a six pack of Labatt Blue at Buffalo RiverWorks, an entertainment complex that resides alongside the Buffalo River.
The base of the silos are painted “Labatt” blue, and PrintLeader manages the production and installation of the graphic elements on 3M Commercial Solutions vinyl. Paulot notes that the silos are 100 feet tall and take over a quarter mile of vinyl to wrap. Each silo required more than a day to complete. The company partners with a specialty installer, Brogan Brands, on the project.
The silos were originally wrapped by PrintLeader and remained up for two years. The shop just rewrapped the six pack to freshen its look to match the new Labatt Blue’s cans that were released this year.
A Winning Combination
PrintLeader is committed to quality, but stands out with its creativity. In addition to banners and vehicle wraps, the shop showcases its talent by utilizing many graphical elements to produce a life-sized pop culture icon or transform grain silos to mimic a six pack of beer.
Oct2016, Digital Output