By Cassandra Balentine
Part 1 of 2
Lamination is a critical service for a sign shop. In addition to improved durability and longevity, premium laminates are used to add value and function like anti-slip and anti-graffiti effects.
Located in Minneapolis, MN, King Signs, Graphics, & Imaging provides business signs, storefront graphics, lobby signs, vinyl signage, vehicle wraps, ADA signs, decals and stickers, wall graphics, trade show displays, and custom graphics. The full-service graphics provider operates with two full-time employees out of a 2,000 square foot facility.
Ben King, owner, King Signs, Graphics, & Imaging launched the business 16 months ago. Coming from the corporate world, King wanted to start a career that he would enjoy. Well versed in sales, project management, and customer service, he realized—with the help of a franchise consultant—that the print industry was a good fit for his personality and experience. He soon partnered with Signworld, a sign business start-up provider with a royalty- and rule-free structure.
With direction from Signworld, King Signs, Graphics, & Imaging launched with a few key devices, including an HP, Inc. Latex 360 64-inch printer, a 63-inch Graphic Finishing Partners, LLC 363TH top heat laminator, and a Graphtec America, Inc. plotter.
“After running the business for over a year, I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve been pleased with the equipment,” says King.
In addition to equipment, the company utilizes media from 3M Commercial Solutions and ORAFOL Americas. Specifically, a lot of 3M Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518 and 3M Scotchcal Matte Overlaminate 8520, as well as some anti-graffiti laminates; and gloss and matte laminates from ORAFOL for economy jobs.
Working through Challenges
King Signs, Graphics, & Imaging is constantly learning and picking up new strategies to create a range of applications with a few devices.
For instance, King explains that because the HP Latex 360 doesn’t offer white ink, its needs a work around for producing clear graphics on a window. “If the design has white, you technically cannot print it. Lately we’ve been printing reverse on clear and use the laminator to back it with a translucent matte, treating the white vinyl like a laminate. You end up losing a little bit of color on the backside, but get more vibrancy on the front.”
This strategy has a two-fold benefit. With Minneapolis weather, there are times when it’s actually too cold to install window graphics on the outside. If installed on the inside, ten degrees are gained.
For many of the applications King Signs, Graphics, & Imaging produces, laminates are necessary. Therefore, the cost is built into the graphic so it’s seamless for the end user. “It’s not so much educating clients on lamination as it is doing it for them. There are many benefits, including longevity,” shares King.
The use of premium laminates, like anti-graffiti, is needed for some applications and sometimes requires client education.
A recent example involves a local company, Gas Dingo. The client offers a recreational refueling system to keep boats, PWCs, lawn equipment, and ATVs full of gas without having to make frequent stops to the gas station or haul gas cans. The product is a 100-gallon fuel tank trailer that accompanies off-road vehicles so that gas is always nearby.
Gas Dingo came to King Signs, Graphic, & Imaging to wrap the trailers. With a standard vinyl and overlaminate, King explains that they found the gas wasn’t evaporating quickly enough and would eat through the graphic as a result. The print shop went to 3M to determine the best solution. Although it still requires proper cleaning, the issue was resolved.
Looking to the Future
As a newer sign business King Signs, Graphics, & Imaging is learning the ropes and having fun pushing the limits of its equipment. King feels laminates are an essential part of its portfolio, especially since he’d like to see his wall graphic services grow. “We’re always looking to increase interior vinyl, and 99 percent of that is laminated,” he says.
The print provider is a great example of a successful sign shop start up, utilizing its equipment to the maximum potential and getting creative with media and lamination.
In the next article in this series we speak with another print provider that understands the importance of lamination.
Jun2018, Digital Output