By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Floor graphics are designed to communicate marketing messages in high-traffic areas. Substrates are selected for durability to withstand human interaction as well as environmental elements. When executed properly, this application provides print service providers (PSPs) with steady business from retailers requiring new graphics for each promotional opportunity.
Graphic Alliance Inc. started in 2004 in Buffalo Grove, IL, as a one-man operation offering graphic design services. It now provides printing, mailing, signage, marketing, and vehicle wraps with ten employees. While the majority of the PSP’s work is with local Chicago businesses, it also offers installations nationwide.
“We install wall and window graphics up to several thousand square feet in size,” comments Eric Grossman, CEO, Graphic Alliance.
The PSP’s large format equipment handles a variety of signage types, including vinyl, outdoor, and indoor applications. It expanded into the signage market nearly five years ago rather than outsourcing. By producing in house, Grossman says the shop guarantees the best print quality and the fastest possible turnaround, as well as keeping prices competitive by eliminating the middleman.
The majority of Graphic Alliance’s floor graphics offering is digitally printed wayfinding signage installed on concrete, asphalt, and indoor surfaces such as cement, carpet, or tile.
“We stock a line of substrates from multiple suppliers that can be applied temporary or permanent on almost any surface,” offers Grossman.
The shop primarily handles wall and window graphics, with a five percent output of digitally printed floor graphics. However, Grossman says this market is a growing as businesses become more aware of the different options available to them.
The company perfected its floor applications through trial and error. From a technical aspect, Grossman says some jobs would peel off, streak, or not adhere well. To solve this, the shop partnered closely with several substrate suppliers, including 3M Commercial Solutions, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, and Mactac Distributor Products.
Currently, retail locations are the bulk of Graphic Alliance’s floor graphics and wayfinding signage. According to Grossman, it’s relatively inexpensive, can be temporary, and takes up little space.
To produce its floor graphics, Graphic Alliance uses a Roland DGA Corporation SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 for printing and cutting. With a 64-inch maximum print width, the printer features two inline mirrored printheads and integrated printing and contour cutting technology.
Roughly four years old, the PSP selected the SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 for Roland’s reputation in quality and reliability. “So far, the machine has had minimal downtime and consistent print output,” shares Grossman.
It pairs the SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 with Roland Eco-Sol MAX 2 inks to maintain consistency in repeat jobs. According to Grossman, using proprietary ink helps keep the shop’s printed colors consistent and precise.
Because the SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 handles the shop’s cutting, its finishing process is typically minimal. After cutting, floor graphics are laminated with a Graphic Finishing Partners’ laminator for added durability and anti-slip properties.
While digital printing is key to Graphic Alliance’s success, the PSP keeps up with the competition by constantly exploring new trends. Recently, it notices growing popularity for floor graphics that integrate optical illusions. For example, printing graphics at a warped perspective so that a viewer at a particular angle sees a 3D scene rising from the ground. “Sidewalk chalk artists have been making these for a while, but now commercial graphics are starting to use them as well,” notes Grossman.
Car Dealership Signage
Floor graphics are often used with additional signage—like wall and window graphics—to create a cohesive presentation and upgrade interior décor.
In October 2017, Arlington Toyota approached Graphic Alliance for wayfinding floor graphics in addition to wall and window signage. The client wanted graphics for its vehicle pickup area, front desk reception, takeaway garage, and service desk area.
“It has a very large building broken up into a showroom, service department, financing, and parts,” comments Grossman.
For this project, Graphic Alliance printed the floor graphics on the Roland SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 using Roland inks and Mactac StreetRap PVC film with Mactac Permacolor FloorGrip laminate. StreetRap is an outdoor sidewalk and parking lot material that features a pressure-sensitive adhesive for high-traffic surfaces. Used with Permacolor FloorGrip, the media provides a high-traction surface for most exterior floor graphic applications.
The finished graphics included vinyl applied to the vehicle pickup area’s floor to replace a previous rug, a cut vinyl sign at the front desk area to replace an old logo, service desk arrows directing customers to cashier and parts departments, a vinyl directory sign, and a large vinyl mural in the takeaway garage including logo, maintenance number, and social media information.
According to Grossman, the Arlington Toyota floor graphics project was fairly simple and took two weeks to complete. The floor graphics totaled 40 square feet. “Everything went smoothly during installation.”
Durable & Safe
Floor graphics effectively market limited time sales and upcoming events while also offering anti-slip properties and lamination to abide by safety regulations. To offer customers innovative floor graphics that are both durable and safe, Graphic Alliance invests in the latest technologies.
May2019, Digital Output