By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Digitally printed floor graphics are built to withstand high-traffic areas indoors and outdoors. Outdoor floor graphics require enhanced durability to protect against foot traffic, vehicles, and environmental elements. The adhesive must also be strong enough to fuse to surfaces like asphalt, brick, and concrete. Part one of this two-part series highlights a print service provider (PSP) offering outdoor floor graphics for directing traffic.
Established in 2010, GMediaWraps offers a full range of large format printing services in Lake Forest, IL. The shop produces car decals, vehicle wraps, retail and commercial signage, trade show displays, fleet graphics, and wall murals. It began with one employee in a 400 square foot work area. Today, four employees are in a 3,000 square foot facility and work with clients nationwide. The staff is trained to design, print, and install graphics on any surface.
The shop uses Mutoh America, Inc. ValueJet 1614 and 1624 printers—both 64-inch models. “They print consistently, have great color, and are a workhorse—at times, printing seven days a week,” says Elmer Martinez, owner, GMediaWraps.
For over five years, the PSP has produced floor graphics. According to Martinez, “they are a great attention grabber for events, especially if the design is captivating.” He believes clients often request floor graphics because of easy installation and removal and profit opportunity.
Floor graphics are offered for indoor and outdoor usage. Print media for outdoor graphics must handle environmental changes like heat, rain, snow, and sunlight. The walking surface must also withstand environmental elements for safe walking. Non-slip floor graphics are used to safely direct human traffic.
The shop uses General Formulations’ Concept 210 and 212 Traffic Graffic for floor graphic media, primarily because they work well and don’t leave any residue. Concept 210 is a formulated flexible vinyl with high-performance acrylic pressure-sensitive adhesive. It is designed for temporary floor signs, decals, and point of purchase advertising. Concept 212 is a formulated flexible 3.4-mil matte white vinyl, also with high-performance acrylic pressure-sensitive adhesive. It is designed for advertising on commercial carpets with a short nap and a tight weave containing minimal texture.
According to Martinez, the real challenge of floor graphic installation is ensuring the surface is clean enough so graphics stay applied for the intended lifespan. Floors must be neat and dry prior to installation. Indoor surfaces are cleaned with detergent and water to remove all soil and grit. Additional precautions are taken to remove oil or grease. For outdoor floor graphics where concrete or cement is the main surface, PSPs need to be aware of cracks and dampness.
It’s also important to consider if floors are painted. Prior to installation, painted floors should be tested to ensure paint is not removed with the graphic. Permanent floor graphics use strong adhesives to bond to surfaces and may damage the existing surface.
Waukegan Public Library in Waukegan, IL approached GMediaWraps for dinosaur footprint floor graphics to guide traffic to the library’s dinosaur exhibit. The graphics were intended for the library’s exterior sidewalk.
The PSP created the dinosaur footprints with Mactac Distributor Products’ IMAGin RoughRAP, a highly conformable PVC with high tack. RoughRAP is durable outdoors for 18 months. It includes a layflat polycoated liner and is specifically designed for direct application onto exterior and interior brick. Martinez says this media was chosen for its durability.
The graphics were printed on the Mutoh ValueJet 1614. Install included a squeegee, heat gun, and a RollePro from GForce Products, LLC to lay the film onto the sidewalk. RollePros are heat-resistant wheels that easily roll over rivets and contours.
According to Martinez, the job’s only challenge was ensuring overall cleanliness and that the adhesive would stick to the sidewalk.
From job submittal to installation, the project took less than a week. The finished floor graphic was nearly 120 square feet on the exterior sidewalk leading into the library’s exhibit. “It was a unique and attention grabbing graphic. It looked as if the dinosaur left quite the impression,” explains Martinez.
Waukegan Public Library was pleased with the completed floor graphics job. “We have done wall and mural wrap installations for them ever since,” he adds.
Floor graphics are used as advertisement, décor, and directional signage. Certain factors like location and surface condition must be considered before a print provider chooses the proper media for the job. The second part of this series features a print provider that uses the dye-sublimation process to create floor graphics.
June2017, Digital Output