By Elizabeth Quirk
Many print service providers (PSPs) look for versatile media products, not only when it comes to ink compatibility, but usage in general. Keeping a robust stock of specialty media in house can be difficult, especially if certain types of jobs aren’t frequent. A print provider runs the risk of media failing or becoming damaged while in storage. Many substrates are available for multi-application use to help avoid these challenges.
Multi-application products enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and minimize inventory. Certain PSPs benefit from having multi-application substrates on hand. Even if a shop tends to perform one type of service, a new project could come along, and having a multi-use product would ultimately save the time and expense of ordering special media.
Multi-use products off er a PSP the flexibility to use one product for many applications such as counter signage, wallcoverings, window graphics, or floor graphics. According to Yvonne Okerberg, marketing communications representative, FLEXcon, these types of substrates are engineered with high-performance adhesive systems that meet a range of end use requirements for both permanent and removal applications. Not only does this reduce the number of SKUs, it offers improved inventory turns and efficiencies for PSPs. “With the utility of these products, PSPs can more quickly turnaround sameday print requests,” adds Okerberg.
Print providers receive requests for vehicle advertising applications and wall graphics to window wraps and point of purchase (POP) displays. According to Joshua Barnard, project manager, digital print media, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, multiapplication products are extremely useful in accomplishing daily tasks and help reduce costs and in some cases labor.
When considering multi-use media, one benefit is the ability to consolidate inventories. According to Holly Coleman, market development manager, 3M Commercial Solutions, shops cut costs when separate rolls are not needed. “Because these films can be utilized for many different jobs, shops can keep the same roll in their printers with fewer swap outs, leading to an increase in productivity,” expresses Coleman.
Jason Yard, marketing director, Mactac Distributor Products, believes that a multi-use and multi-print product is ideal for simplifying a print provider’s inventory. “Many print shops are strapped for floor and shelf space and manufacturers can help by creating just a few products that meet 90 percent of their application needs.” says Yard. “Multi-use media also helps reduce picking errors when it comes time to print the job,” he adds.
PSPs who sell directly to the consumer find multi-use films to be beneficial, according to Jessica Blevins, product specialist, S-One Holdings Corporation, as their multi-function attributes appeal across a range of the consumer population.
Durability and removability characteristics can be very specific to an application, thus making it difficult to engineer a media product that works well across a range of surfaces. Though each intended surface differs, media manufacturers have come up with a base line that serves multiple applications.
Take for example a substrate designed for a window versus a wall. Glass is a uniform, high surface energy substrate with little variation. The challenge, according to Coleman, is to achieve removability with no adhesive left behind. Walls are challenging from an adhesion perspective due to the wide variations in paint chemistries. Coleman explains, that paints with low volatile organic compounds affect a substrate’s adhesive properties.
“It’s not an easy undertaking, but because of 3M’s rooted expertise in adhesives and micro replication, we identified that common ground and create versatile, multi-use films with a pressure-activated adhesive and Comply technology. This successfully adheres to a variety of surfaces, including both windows and walls,” says Coleman.
Multi-use products feature adhesives that have been tested on multiple surfaces, such as glass or brick, and under different environmental conditions. When it comes to media designated for multiple surfaces, according to Okerberg, one application requires certain characteristics over the other, however, “by working with a media manufacturer that can conduct the proper testing to insure application success this will expand the use of the media.”
“It is true,” Yard adds, “that some applications have specific requirements resulting in a very specific print media. One media doesn’t do everything, however, one good media can cover many different applications.”
Blevins states that materials with a base construction of PET film or fabric offer a more stable and durable product while reducing the risk of shrinkage post installation.
Here we share some of the multi-use media products offered by vendors interviewed for this article.
3M Controltac Print Film 40C-114R is a removable intermediate vinyl film with advanced repositionability and Comply adhesive for easier, bubble-free application. Available in an opaque white gloss, opaque white matte, or transparent finish, it is suggested for use as general signage, POP, walls, trucks, partial vehicle graphics, and indoor floor and carpet graphics. 3M Envision Print Film 48C is a PVCfree printable film, optimal for promotional applications. Controltac keeps the adhesive film repositionable on the application surface up to final installation. The Comply feature allows trapped air to escape through micro air channels in the adhesive. 3M Envision Print Film 48C is dimensionally stable at high temperatures and stretchable at low temperatures.
Avery Dennison MPI 1105 Supercast digital cast films seamlessly transition from flat surfaces like walls and floors to vehicles with challenging curves. It is also customizable with outstanding printability across all platforms—latex, eco-solvent, solvent, and UV. It turns any image or design into a vinyl wrap. MPI 2105 Easy Apply digital calendared film also offers versatility with uses in signage applications, large fleet graphics, and floors. It offers the benefits of reduced wrinkling and air entrapment inherent in the application of decals.
FLEXcon’s FLEXmark Promotional Advertising Films adhere to a variety of surfaces, including acrylic, aluminum, stainless steel, painted metal and wood, glass, and indoor floor surfaces. The films are printable via UV and solvent screen, UV/UV offset, and solvent inkjet plus HP Latex. In addition, FLEXcon’s FLEXmark Promotional Advertising Films are designed for versatility and serve as a complement to FLEXcon’s application-specific products.
Mactac’s REBEL is the company’s most popular multi-application and multi-print media, specifically REBEL H High Tack. It is available in both white and clear. The REBEL H series, including RB528H and RB599H, features a high-performance adhesive designed to bond to most surfaces, including low-energy surfaces such as powder-coated paints, UV screen and UV inkjet, and other plastic surfaces. REBEL H is intended to be used for all intermediate- to long-term signage on flat to moderately curved surfaces. As an added benefit, it can be printed on multiple print platforms including UV and solvent screen, solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex inkjet printers. The REBEL H product line features a SuperFlat liner.
S-One’s LexJet Corporation brand offers Print-N-Stick Fabric. The multi-application product is designed for window graphics, wall murals, decals, and POP signage and displays. Its unique adhesive properties and durable, terylene fabric allow for easy install, repositioning, and removal without tearing, wrinkling, or stretching. The base fabric is top coated to produce photographic-quality prints. It can also be used in backlit applications as an alternative to traditional films.
Used in All Applications
Many PSPs look for versatile media products, not only when it comes to ink compatibility, but usage in general. Many substrates are designed for multi-application use. These substrates help a print provider keep inventory costs down by eliminating the need for separate media for each application offered. Specialty substrates are ideal for a number of reasons, but multi-use products are a fit for any PSP offering a number of services. Media manufacturers continue to perfect technology and offer tried-and-true multiuse products that succeed on windows to walls.
Feb2017, Digital Output