By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Every Spring we ask readers to nominate print service providers (PSPs) for the annual Digital Output Application of the Year awards. This year we were inundated with entries showcasing some of the most innovative and exciting applications from top PSPs in the industry.
After a record number of votes, we are proud to announce the 2018 winners by profiling each winning project in this two-part series. To view the applications, view the Digital Output August issue or visit the digital edition here.
Our first place winner is ARB Digital based in Sacramento, CA. The company began in October 2012 with one employee offering color consulting and digital print services on tile and wood. Today, it uses UV technology to print on a variety of alternative surfaces while also offering traditional services.
ARB Digital prints for restaurants, designers, and artists on substrates like fabric, glass, metal, tile, and wood. “We treat every media with respect. Wood, metal, tile, paper, plastics—we try to get the best out of the substrate,” says Alvaro Rodriguez, owner, ARB Digital. The PSP operates with three employees in a 1,200 square foot workspace and offers its print services to the Sacramento and Bay Area in CA.
ARB Digital’s work for La Fiesta Taqueria won it first place in the 2018 Application of the Year awards. A repeat client, La Fiesta Taqueria reached out to ARB Digital as it underwent restaurant renovations and sought a mural that represented the city of Folsom, CA.
“The mural consisted of a collage of images of the city of Folsom. The customer wanted to show their bond to the community,” comments Rodriguez.
For the 98 square foot mural, ARB Digital used 512 5×5-inch tiles that required a jig to ensure registration. The tile sizes were determined by the maximum print area of the shop’s Roland DGA Corporation VersaUV LEF-12 printer.
In addition to Roland, ARB Digital also uses Epson and EFI printers for large format work. Its digital printing software consists of standard ICC profiles and the EFI Fiery XF RIP for ease of use. “We believe that each media should have its own ICC profile, we evaluate and prime medias accordingly,” adds Rodriguez.
In the case of the La Fiesta Taqueria mural, ARB Digital was required to find a natural stone that was smooth, with a high white point, and demonstrated good ink adhesion. According to Rodriguez, the only challenge of the job revolved around grout, which can eat away at UV ink. “Keep in mind there’s one-eighth of an inch of grout between each tile, which complicates things a little more.” To avoid challenges, the shop tested a variety of materials until selecting travertine tiles for the job.
The tiles were printed on the Roland VersaUV LEF-12 and installed by a contractor. To simplify the installation process, each tile was labeled and boxed including a map and detailed instructions.
Creating large tile murals is a human tradition that goes back millennia. In this job, Rodriguez believes using natural stone and printing methods is an extension of that tradition. “There’s no real difference from laying ink for a lawn sign or for a mural. What sets them apart is that the mural will be enjoyed by people for many years after a lawn sign is gone.”
The entire job took two and a half weeks to complete, which included sourcing the materials, priming, and printing. According to Rodriguez, the mural stands out due to the sheer size and logistics. “From finding the right tile company, to delivering the stones we wanted, cutting to the appropriate size, and finding the right contractor to lay the tile.” It was completed on time and La Fiesta Taqueria was very happy with the results.
The Long Haul
In second place is Bullitt Auto, located in Clayton, NC. Established in 2011, it started as a homegrown detailing company and has since evolved into a premier car wrap customization shop offering digitally printed wraps, paint correction, ceramic coating, window tint, paint protection film, caliper painting, headlight restoration, and LED lighting.
With one employee, the company operates from a 2,500 square foot workspace with mobile capabilities. As an installation for hire, Bullitt Auto runs a number of projects nationwide, all of which are digitally printed. The company works with clients on vehicle designs that are then outsourced for printing to Underground Wraps in Tonawanda, NY and returned to Bullitt Auto for installation. Off-site installations make up 30 percent of the business.
Since the company doesn’t produce its print, the application side is always a challenge, particularly the design. “Some are intricate, and some are relatively simple,” admits Ken Mahlschnee, owner/operator, Bullitt Auto. “The fastest time I’ve installed one side of a tractor trailer was 1.5 hours. I was doing two full trailers with front and rear a day on one particular job of 64 units.”
Its print partner, Underground Wraps, uses HP, Inc. Latex 360 presses for Bullitt Auto’s print jobs. “I prefer this option due to the ability to laminate quickly after the print is completed,” offers Mahlschnee.
Bullitt Auto’s work for Vaughn Gittin Motorsports earned it second place in this year’s Application of the Year awards. In 2018, repeat customer Vaughn Gittin Motorsports approached Bullitt Auto for a trailer wrap to be showcased at the Formula Drift Event in Long Beach, CA.
The client’s goal was to drive the trailer from Charlotte, NC to Long Beach, CA where it would be wrapped before the event. “That means the trailer left NC and arrived in CA as the new prints were made and then I traveled to CA to install the wrap before the event,” explains Mahlschnee.
26 panels, 13 for each side, were printed by Underground Wraps with the HP Latex 360 presses. The media used was MPI 1105 Opaque Series from Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions. It was finished with Avery Dennison DOL 6460 overlaminate.
“This trailer utilized every inch of vinyl as the install goes from above the running lights on the top of the trailer to well below the standard install lines, six inches off the ground,” admits Mahlschnee.
He installed the trailer wrap in a parking garage and the truck was displayed the next day. Challenges occurred after the initial installation of the wrap when it was discovered that the last two panels were too short—resulting in the removal of half the installation. “The amount of lines to match up on each panel was tedious,” adds Mahlschnee.
From job submittal to installation, it took five days to complete the trailer wrap. The job stands out as the largest moving installation and travel for Bullitt Auto.
“I believe it was nominated due to its size, intricacy, rigorous and demanding install, and the beauty of it all. This trailer is a great way to show how the industry can produce amazing results in a spectrum of many colors, shapes, and sizes,” offers Mahlschnee.
Both our first and second place winners worked diligently on custom projects that earned them recognition from their peers. Stay tuned for the second part of this series to learn more about our third place and honorable mention winners.
Aug2018, Digital Output