By Lisa Guerriero
Part 2 of 2
Fabric presents print providers with a new profit center, and expanded options for their customers. In recent years, digital technology introduced new processes and equipment for direct textile printing. It expands the options for substrates, coatings, and inks. While enabling the production of high-quality, cost-effective prints.
Digital fabric printing is popular for applications like retail, trade shows, and fine art. Print shops and marketers provide clients with a growing assortment of textile output, including signage, displays, and even carpet.
Textile printing is part of a new era for Presentations Plus International’s (PPI’s) retail services. The company recently rebranded its retail division as ZON Retail Environments. Fabric printing is one of the ways ZON offers modern, versatile solutions to its clients.
In the Zone
Established in 2009, PPI acquired several other companies over the years, representing over three decades in the industry. Its fabric operation is based in a 30,000 square foot facility in Long Lake, MN, supplemented by multiple locations for other parts of the business.
The company employs over 30, led by Tim Johnson, CEO and Carroll E. Shipman, president, PPI. When it comes to fabric printing, dye-sublimation (dye-sub) printers from Mutoh America, Inc. are the technology of choice—specifically the ValueJet 1604 and ValueJet 2638.
PPI works with clients around the world. Its retail offerings include printing and producing display systems, lighting installations, and fixtures. It provides a variety of additional products and services, like computer aided drafting, design, and prototyping.
The company’s experience with digital printing dates back almost 20 years. Wicklund Design, later absorbed by PPI, introduced digital methods in 1996. Since the acquisition, the team has expanded use of the technology and prints on a daily basis.
Digital printing is primarily used across the entire business, though proprietary production methods are utilized in some cases. “Volume and graphic size will play a part in deciding when to use digital versus our other proprietary methods,” explains Jeff Spizale, national sales director, ZON.
With its new moniker and identity, PPI’s retail segment specializes in designing and fabricating custom environments. ZON works to create engaging in-store experiences, from fixtures and lights to graphics and program management services.
“We work directly with retail brands. We also provide behind the scenes support to creative agencies and other industry partners,” notes Spizale.
Launching the New Brand
As retail business grew, PPI expanded its services to handle every aspect of a job, from design to completion. The company wanted current and prospective customers to know about its comprehensive solutions. The leadership team chose GlobalShop 2015, a visual merchandising trade show, as the platform to announce ZON.
“We used GlobalShop 2015 as an opportunity to reintroduce ourselves, where our trade show booth highlighted our wide format graphic capabilities in a unique and compelling way,” says Spizale.
There were two key goals for the spring show. ZON wanted to create a compelling brand experience to get people excited about the company’s new identity. It also sought to showcase some of its best work, demonstrating retail solutions provided for clients like The Home Depot, Hy-Vee, Lacoste, MakerBot, and Moroccanoil.
All the rebranding and corresponding graphics were handled in house. The project entailed developing brand identity, translating the concepts into graphics, designing and producing the trade show booth and corresponding promotional materials, and overhauling the website.
The company used transfer dye-sub to print the booth graphics, spotlighting its new branding as well as its clients. The staff created backlit silicone edge graphic (SEG) displays, sized between 10×6.35 and 14×6.35 feet. This included a backlit solid orange ceiling panel and backlit white sections for inside the shelving. Dye-sub was also used for doubled-sided banners and microfiber lens cloths.
The 64-inch Mutoh ValueJet 1604 was used for the ceiling prints, and for the larger displays, the 104-inch Mutoh ValueJet 2638. ZON continually uses this equipment because it produces quality output, with good registration, and handles high-volume jobs. Sawgrass Technologies, Inc.’s sublimation inks are run in both printers.
Top Value Fabrics (TVF) supplied the fabrics used for the booth project. “TVF is a great partner to work with. It offers great materials that are breaking ground with the growing popularity of LED backlit fabric displays,” says Shipman.
The brand’s new color scheme, a vivid orange, presented a bit of a challenge. “We did have to spend some time making sure our colors were dialed in—especially placed in SEG light boxes,” notes Spizale.
The company also built the fixtures, integrated the lights and controls, and planned the final staging before shipping the project to Las Vegas, NV for the trade show. The entire job took about ten weeks, with the printing completed in a few days.
The response was just as ZON hoped. “Reaction to the booth was tremendous. Existing clients were excited about the change,” recalls Spizale.
Moreover, the fabric displays helped draw in new customers. “We came home with a few new projects and some exciting new prospects,” he says.
The graphics also drew many casual visitors to the booth—the company handed out over 500 pairs of promotional sunglasses. In addition, the GlobalShop judging committee nominated ZON for best booth.
Making an Impact
ZON hoped to make an impression at GlobalShop, exhibiting its experience as well as its new brand. Fabric graphics were an ideal approach to convey the message of innovation, quality, and professionalism. Backlit SEG displays made an impact on visitors to the company’s booth and helped re-launch its retail service offerings. Between PPI/ZON and the end user profiled in the first part of this series—Rose Brand—it is clear that fabric printing is a lucrative business.
Jul2015, Digital Output DOUF1507