By Melissa Donovan
Building wraps use a variety of substrates. Some of the most popular are mesh, perforated window media, and banner material. The media used is dependent on the building. Architectural structures range from glass to concrete. Graphics are in areas where wind, precipitation, and UV rays affect wrap quality. It’s essential that a print service provider (PSP) be prepared to wrap any surface type.
MetroMedia Technologies, Inc. (MMT), based in New York, NY, began in 1987. In its 26-plus years in existence, the company pioneered the digitalizing process of banners and billboards with its proprietary technology—a 32-foot wide printer that completes much of its large scale work.
150 employees round out the current staff, which excels in visual communications in the form of billboards, wall murals, backdrops, and trade show graphics. These applications are crafted in a 60,000 square foot space for high-profile clients located nationwide.
According to Abhi Vyas, VP, marketing, MMT, building wraps have gained a lot of publicity in the last eight to ten years. “It’s the nature of a supersized culture. A growing segment, we notice a lot more brands attracted to it. However, many city municipal codes prevent building wraps from even being installed—so it is hard to grow the application because of this,” he shares.
Popular geographical areas where building wraps are found include Los Angeles, CA, says William Ishida, COO, MMT, citing the weather as the overwhelming differentiator. Most wraps are never installed in freezing cold temperatures, as it makes the media challenging to work with and apply.
MMT relies on a number of media options for its building wrap work, but Ishida finds that in recent years perforated window film has been a popular choice. “Most building wraps use to be mesh, but now there are a lot of glass buildings that do not lend themselves to mesh, so adhesive media works best,” he explains. The staff regularly uses Clear Focus Imaging, Inc.’s products for job requests that benefit from an adhesive-backed media.
For the last three years, the PSP has rotated out building wrap graphics in one location for a regular client. It finds itself printing a 172×72-foot wrap on a monthly basis. Change outs are requested as advertisers schedule space and in each case the turnaround from job submittal to finished product is tight. In less than 24 hours both printing and finishing is completed on these projects. MMT usually outsources the install.
The frequency at which MMT creates the building wraps for this specific location necessitated that it develop a cutter just for this one application. The building is made up of 19 glass panels, with 18 metal mulligans separating the panels to create individual windows. When it comes to the graphics, this equates to 74 separate sections of media printed, cut, and shipped on a monthly basis.
Each wrap is printed on one of its five-meter wide printers. Media brand used varies, but it is almost always an adhesive-based perforated window film because the final graphic adheres to glass. When a Clear Focus product is chosen, it is usually due to its proven reliability in the field and quality of the product.
Practice makes perfect and MMT’s continuous work with the aforementioned customer allows it to refine its building wrap talents.
Located in Dallas, TX, XL Digital Imaging, LLC began 13 years ago as a billboard and banner printer. Today it offers vehicle wraps and wallscapes to floor, fabric, and window graphics. A diverse client base includes independent print brokers, advertising agencies, trade show companies, trade shops, and national accounts. It categorizes about 30 percent of its work in the realm of billboard and banners, with building wraps a small fraction of that.
A staff of 25 works out of a 30,000 square foot shop. Hardware found on site includes dye-sublimation, flatbed, and grand format equipment, specifically a PrinterEvolution Evo33 DS and three EFI wide format printers—VUTEk GS3250, VUTEk GS5000r, and VUTEk 5330.
For its larger jobs, XL Digital regularly works with 70/30 mesh from Value Vinyls, the Rio 8 oz. Deluxe Mesh Vinyl Banner. Jack Padgett, GM, XL Digital, says it is both economical and durable, and reproduces well when printed on.
The print provider does not handle the install on any of its building wraps, as a result a project’s finishing aspect is often dictated by the agency placing the order. About 95 percent of the time, reinforced webbing and grommets are used, with a small percentage d-rings.
XL Digital believes in a true commitment to its customers. “We are a highly progressive and aggressive digital printing company specializing in making it happen. When we say we are going to do something, we do it,” adheres Padgett.
A recent job for Fellowship Bible included several large banners to promote the congregation. XL Digital printed a total of 10,500 square feet of Value Vinyls’ Rio 8 oz. Deluxe Mesh Vinyl Banner on an EFI VUTEk GS5000r. Padgett says the mesh product was specifically chosen for this project because it is durable and ideal for outdoor use. The banners were finished with reinforced hems and then grommets were added as the final step. In total the project for Fellowship Bible took a day and a half, from approval to delivery.
While XL Digital is not contracted to print superwide building wrap jobs on a frequent basis, it still regularly works in the realm of grand format and its banner work for Fellowship Bible is an excellent example of this.
About five miles from the Las Vegas strip, Las Vegas, NV-based Off The Wall Signs & Graphics is strategically positioned to capitalize on a booming geographical building wrap location. Rocky Faith started an installation company in 2005 and recognizing the need to bring print in house, Off The Wall was founded in 2009.
The company specializes in grand format but is a full-service production shop, offering print, install, and design services all under one roof. 16 employees work in a 10,000 square foot space serving clients mostly located in the Southwest.
Its main workhorse is a Hewlett-Packard (HP) Latex 3000 wide format printer and media usage varies depending on the project in question.
For many of its building wrap requests the PSP finds itself turning to Arlon Graphics, LLC’s DPF 47WF. According to Mariela Faith, co-owner, Off The Wall, the company has used this material for both short- and long-term projects. “The application is ideal for install because the product is light without compromising the adhesiveness of it,” she shares.
High-profile building wraps recently placed Off The Wall in the limelight. It was contacted by several television networks to create graphics displays in San Diego, CA during Comic Con. One was to promote Conan O’Brien’s late night show, Conan. “The goal was to have the biggest presence in San Diego to target the Comic Con conventioneers,” explains Faith.
About 35,000 square feet of Arlon DPF 47WF was printed on using the HP Latex 3000. The layout took a week and the graphics were printed in two weeks—with projects from other clients mixed in. In total it was a month long process from the time the PSP received the artwork, sent out color match proofs, printed, finished, and then installed the building wrap.
Off The Wall also created a Comic Con building wrap for ABC’s new primetime comedy, The Muppets, using Arlon DPF 6700 with Series 3220 overlaminate. 11,875 square feet of media was printed on the HP Latex 3000. For this specific graphic, Faith says Arlon DPF 6700 was chosen because it holds up well and the team loves how it handles during install.
While Off The Wall does have its own installation team in house, the size and scope of the Comic Con building wraps necessitated that it partner with Above All Media in Irvine, CA.
It was not the first time the company found itself creating graphics for Comic Con, it has completed print jobs for the event the last four years. “Though there are changes from year to year, we have a great staff that makes sure everything runs smoothly,” shares Faith.
Taking on notable jobs for the entertainment industry places Off The Wall in a special category of PSP. Its management and staff parlay their knowledge of building wraps into pop culture.
A Successful Trio
Each building wrap is different and the media used is constantly changing. It is important print providers understand and educate themselves on the various available media options and the buildings and environments those materials are most compatible with.
From perforated window media to mesh, media manufacturers are enhancing portfolios to ensure print providers are equipped with the best tools for the job. Matching the material to the building and its environment while keeping in mind how long it will be in place is essential.
Dec2015, Digital Output