By Melissa Donovan
Many companies in the design space look to digital printing as a way to offer customers a more personalized approach to their graphics. 20 years ago, these projects were at a premium, which only allowed certain buyers to afford such unique requests. Today, wide format digital printing technology cost-effectively generates custom graphics to a larger circle of buyers.
Astek Wallcovering, of Van Nuys, CA, began in the mid-1980s as a wallpaper distributor, working with the entertainment industry by supplying production designers and set decorators with wallpaper for television shows and films, in addition to distributing residential wallpaper products to showrooms, retail stores, and design firms.
The organization recognized the potential of digital in the late 1990s, when it witnessed an increased demand for wallcovering customization. With the advent of digital and its sequential investment in large format digital print, Astek soon began designing and printing in house.
Clients were receptive to the new offering, which in turn helped business grow. Today, 50 employees work at Astek, with a professional in-house design studio made up of ten graphic designers and illustrators. The company still distributes wallpaper products, however, it also works on commercial projects worldwide. Digital technology not only attracts new customers, but allows Astek to be more flexible in the types of products and applications it offers.
Window film in particular is a growing market for the printer. “The highest demand we see for this product is within the corporate sector, particularly tenant improvement projects for corporate offices,” explains Jeff Dey, director of business development, Astek.
Astek leverages its print technology to take advantage of the possibilities of window films. It owns seven Durst Image Technology US LLC UV printers. Its most recent investment—the Rho 312R—was being installed at press time. According to Dey, there is no doubt that UV printing with white ink creates new opportunities. “It’s given us a new level of versatility when printing on specialty materials, including clear window film,” he says.
When it comes to window media, Astek relies on Lintec of America, Inc.’s Digital Window Graphics E-2200ZC. The 61-inch width is ideal for applications on larger glass windows because the surface can be covered without seaming individual pieces together. In addition, the product is optically clear and scratch resistant. Since Astek prints with UV ink it doesn’t laminate the final graphic and adhesion of the UV ink to the Digital Window Graphics E-2200ZC is “fantastic,” according to Dey.
Bringing it Full Circle
As Dey mentions, corporate offices are one of the more popular environments the company creates window graphics for. Astek recently completed a window film project for the corporate offices of Agile 360, an IT consulting firm based in Southern CA. According to Dey, the client was looking to “bring life to its new office space with some graphics, while tying in their branding and logos. Simultaneously, they needed the graphics to provide privacy in both the offices and conference rooms.”
The graphics on the conference room windows included a white gradient to offer privacy while still allowing for light to enter the space. “Anytime we develop a gradient like this, full drop strike offs must be produced. It’s the only way to get a full visual and idea of how much privacy and light is transmitted in the space. It took a handful of revisions, but it was worth the effort as all parties were thrilled with the final outcome,” admits Dey.
Astek designed and printed the graphics. The overall length of the project, from initial consultation to final print production, was six weeks. It decided to use Lintec’s Digital Window Graphics E-2200ZC for the entire project and printed it on its Durst Rho 320R. Both the media and ink were ideal for the application. The window film remains optically clear when needed, and privacy is ensured in certain spots thanks to the superior adhesion of the UV ink, which makes up the white gradient.
According to Dey, the client was “extremely pleased with the results. They were so excited to share the installation photos with us, they sent them to me before I even had a chance to ask.”
In its Sights
Astek is an ideal example of a design business incorporating digital technology to offer its customers unique, one-of-a-kind projects, ranging from wallcoverings to window graphics. The company is aware of the potential of digital and leverages its printers and media to provide customized projects to clients in a range of sectors.
May2015, Digital Output