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Widening Your Expectations for Inkjet Printing

(October 2010) posted on Tue Oct 05, 2010

When it comes to wide-format inkjet printing, printers have delivered some creative artistic, useful, and informative printed projects. Use this article to stimulate your own ideas as to how to approach such a challenge.

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By Gail Flower

Each art panel was printed on one piece of plywood and then cut into 1-m squares using a CNC router to create the finished piece. “It’s like a collage,” Baily says. “Each square is an individual panel and goes together like a puzzle.”

Ad Art Co.
Vernon, CA

Joe DeMarco, co-owner
In 1992, Joe DeMarco, a CFO, and Roger Keech, a CEO for a large investment firm decided to form a partnership, buy a company, and run it. They had no particular knowledge of printing; they just knew that they were tired of investing in many different companies and were ready to make a company of their own successful. They purchased a traditional screen company, Ad Art Co., outside of Los Angeles.

Over the years, Ad Art has moved forward progressively, adding equipment and technically oriented people with solid work ethics as needed to support diversity in projects. The company operates as a one-stop-shop for unique P-O-P solutions traditionally produced by screen printing and litho. Just recently, though, Demarco and Keech made a $5 million investment in inkjet equipment, purchasing two HP Scitex FB7500 printers, an HP Scitex TJ8550, an XL 1500, and an XP2750.

“We still handle litho and screen printing, which is all direct-to-screen, as well as creative and finishing, such as sewing and die cutting,” DeMarco says. “Investing in five additional digital printers helps with speed and efficiencies needed to reduce turnaround times and help with low-volume, customized, large-format graphics for worldwide clients.”

He explains the company had to spread out and plan the layout, add room filters, and make other adjustments to accommodate the equipment. A lot of Ad Art’s accounts say they want to see a one-off before they give the company the business—a request that Ad Art can now fulfill.

One promotional campaign from Build-a-Bear Workshop (Figure 6) was tied to the Ice Cream Bears collection, which included printed pieces printed on 0.187-in.-thick foamcore and 13-oz. vinyl substrates. At the close of the campaign, Ad Art delivered 1200 double-sided displays and banners, or 27,780 sq ft of printed graphics to the customer.

“Everyone wants everything yesterday, included printed products. And if you don’t take the business, someone else will. Last year in a down economy, print buyers were looking for a deal,” DeMarco says. “We have been successful with new accounts, especially with smaller print companies going out of business and with buyers interested in faster service, high quality, and lower prices. We’ve been working 24/7 for the past three months, but I’m not bragging. Because I have a financial background, I know that there’s never a time to sit back and enjoy success. You always need to stay ahead of the game. Our next step is to keep up with enhancements. Persistence is the name of the game along with service.”

Future trends
Traditional shops still need to be creative to be competitive and profitable by offering customers the latest in technology and the most unique products. One wide-format inkjet product is currently undergoing rigorous qualification testing for adhesion, abrasion, and durability by Gerber Scientific Products. It’s a printed entryway carpet produced on the Gerber CAT UV, a wide-format UV inkjet printer that prints cationic inks.

Every business has an entryway, and that’s one place to advertise to customers as they come and go. The mat pictured in Figure 7 was printed on the Gerber CAT UV. The substrate was UltraCarpet Extra from Ultraflex, a white, tufted-pile carpet especially made for solvent, eco-solvent, and UV inkjet printing. Printing on the carpet is possible because the Gerber CAT UV can print on heat-sensitive materials. The final product can be used indoors for floor mats in lobbies and foyers.


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