By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 2
Sometimes rigid substrate printing is a prominent portion of the work run out of a sign shop. Other times it’s a small part of the final total output. For companies that rely heavily on digital flatbed printing capabilities, rigid substrates are a huge part of the everyday workflow. The media chosen must work well with the applications the company continually produces.
A Clear Finish
Printscape Imaging and Graphics celebrates 40 years in business. Operating just outside of Pittsburgh, PA with two separate locations, the company offers a number of graphics and imaging services. This includes interior branding solutions, gallery-quality displays, dimensional acrylic, custom wall and vehicle graphics, retail point of purchase and fulfillment, banners, posters, and signage.
It operates out of two locations, with its headquarters in Robinson Township taking up approximately 15,000 square feet of space and a second spot in Southpointe with an office of 6,000 square feet. A team of 30 employees made up of digital technicians, project managers, and installers serve clients across the U.S. as well as worldwide.
85 percent of the print service provider’s (PSP’s) business is considered large format. The remaining 15 percent includes work like ADA signage, custom manufactured signage, and small format printed items like brochures, rack cards, and business cards.
From its large format work, Darin Smith, GM, Printscape, estimates that printing direct-to-substrate is 60 percent. It prints to a large number of rigid sheet products including Alumicore, ACM/Dibond, coroplast, styrene, coated paper, acrylic, PETG, Gatorboard, Ultraboard, and PVC.
For PVC products, the PSP commonly uses Celtec Vivid White and Celtec Ultra White PVC, both from Vycom. “We are very pleased with the whiteness of the Ultra White PVC when printing directly to the substrate. It produces a clean finished piece that prints and cuts very nicely to make for a great presentation,” shares Smith.
Vycom advanced Celtec solid PVC formulation is designed specifically for outdoor applications where resistance to UV degradation and impact strength are critical. According to Vycom, performance tests indicate that a Celtec Ultra White PVC sheet is up to eight times more resistant to UV damage and is both digital and screen printable.
To print direct to substrate, Printscape uses three different pieces of equipment—an HP Inc. Latex R2000 Plus, Canon Solutions America Arizona 350, and Canon Arizona 460.
The HP Latex R2000 Plus is a hybrid device capable of printing to 98.4-inch wide boards and 98.4-inch wide rolls of media. Its rated indoor production speed—at six pass—is 463 square feet per hour or 14 boards per hour.
The HP device is newly acquired and Smith says he appreciates its quality, speed, and consistency. “All of these factors played into the decision to purchase this machine for the lion share of our daily work because of the consistent color output and versatility in the work that we put through it each and every day,” he continues.
The Canon Arizona dedicated flatbeds continue to be used daily. The Arizona 460 in particular is utilized for projects requiring a little pizzazz, as it offers white ink and varnish—adding a “bit of flair to the output,” says Smith.
Printed rigid sheets are used in a number of ways and found in retail, office, schools, galleries, museums, history centers, and science centers. However, with the onset of COVID-19, many of these common offerings went by the wayside—but Printscape prevailed.
“We immediately transformed our production from our ‘normal’ offerings—which took a substantial decline the first two months of everything shutting down—and immediately started to offer germ guards, wayfinding signage, and floor decals,” explains Smith.
To keep up with the demand, the PSP’s two laser routers ran 24/7, cutting out acrylic germ guards. When traditional jobs began picking up, these routers continued to maintain and meet production demands.
Smith echoes the company’s actions in his comments. “Digital printing seems to always have a place no matter that the world throws at us. The key is to adapt quickly to the change, try to be one of the first ones to come to market with what people and business will need and offer a fair price.”
Have Each Others’ Back
In a time of uncertainty, companies like Printscape look out for both their customers and employees. “We are all in this together and it is our job to offer our valued customers what they need to stay safe and to operate their businesses,” concludes Smith.
Dec2020, Digital Output