Looking for new ways to reap returns from your investment in large or grand format digital printing?
A good place to begin might be with suppliers of digital print media. As demand for digitally printed signage and graphics has grown, so too have their offerings.
Whether you seek a multipurpose economical substrate or a specific product for a highly specialized niche, you’ll find a vendor with just the right film, vinyl, fabric, or paper to help you grow your business as they grow their own.
“Today there are twenty or thirty different brands, and within each, as many as one hundred different types of media,” says Mark Friedman, product marketing manager for Sihl Digital Imaging http://www.sihlusa.com. “What’s the right media? Well that can depend on which printer you have and what you actually want to do with it.”
Friedman believes that suppliers need to make it easy as possible for print providers to make a smart choice. “As capabilities and areas of print specialization expand, it’s our job to develop the right media for the right applications,” he states.
Friedman believes that suppliers need to make it as easy as possible for print providers to make a smart choice. (Note: Sihl posts a downloadeable guide to choosing aqueous and other media at http://bit.ly/xcDrwD). “As printer capabilities and areas of print specialization expand, it’s our job to develop the right media for the right applications,” he states.
Friedman cites four recently announced products as example of that commitment: the ClearSTICK 3166 2-mil clear polyester with easy application for aqueous printers; the Decor Brilliant Matte, Illumina Semi-Gloss, and Irradia Matt canvas papers; the Mirano POS roll-up film for P-O-P and tradeshow graphics printed on solvent or latex printers; and two, new durable PolySOL display films.
New Media, New Opportunities
While there’s guaranteed demand for many substrates, some of the newer products to market can open the gate to new services and revenue streams. At MACtac North America, http://www.mactac.com Marketing Director Rick Moore advises print service providers to evaluate the latest offerings in terms of the opportunities they bring.
“The right media and the right supplier have answers to how to grow your business [and] how to differentiate yourself from your competitors,” he says. “When you go to your customer, you should have a reason to walk in that door.”
For imbuing windows and glass with unique effects, the company’s MACmark Glass Decor film now includes more choices in colors, patterns, and textures to allow for more sophisticated designs. The commitment to expand the creative horizons extends to the new MACmark Tuning and color-changing films. “These keep with the whole trend to personalization,” explains Moore. “The film can also be used to wrap interior vehicle trim, cell phones, laptops, and more.”
At 3M’s Commercial Graphics division, Marketing Supervisor Adam Larson sees a long-term trend in the industry’s “green” movement. Some print service providers look to minimize their carbon footprint by being more selective about their choices in digital print media. “Providing non-vinyl products that offer the same positive performance characteristics as vinyl will continue to be important—including durability, conformability, and imageability,” he says.
ILFORD also demonstrates a commitment to delivering environmentally friendly media with its recently launched biodegradable BioMedia line and its Photo Realistic recyclable material in the OMNIJET inkjet media line. The selection includes the BioMedia Display Films for indoor applications printed on aqueous, solvent, eco-solvent, and latex printers; BioMedia Display Film UV for UV printers; BioMedia Rigid Display Board for heavy-duty signage; and BioMedia Laminate, a biodegradable laminate with a satin finish. The OmniJet Photorealistic line is offered in gloss or satin finishes and can be used with aqueous dye and pigment inks, UV-cured, latex, or electrostatic printers.
As sign producers explore new markets for their digital print capabilities, they continue to turn to their vendors for new types of media. Lisa Humrich, marketing manager at Oracal USA is reporting increased demand in two areas: a material for use with low-energy plastics and a removable P-O-P product that can also be used for flat surface graphics and partial vehicle wraps.
For those plastic applications, the company now offers the ORAJET Series 3951HT high-tack cast PVC digital media and ORAJET Series 3105HT high-tack calendered PVC digital media. “Both are an ideal choice for hard-to-stick, low-energy plastics like polyethylene and polypropylene with a smooth or slightly textured surface, such as kayaks, ATVs, coolers, and porta-johns,” says Humrich.
ORAJET Series 3169RA Intermediate calendered digital media with RapidAir technology addresses calls for the removable media. Humrich says, “It is ideal for general signage, P-O-P, and partial vehicle wraps requiring limited conformability. This versatile film is also perfect for flat indoor and outdoor short- to medium-term applications.”
Ultraflex Systems continues to heed customer calls for more-versatile specialty media with several recent products. Its latest, Pole Banner Pro 18oz., is a heavy-duty blockout banner material for two-sided applications (where complete opacity is required). Other featured products include the lighter DSS 12oz Blockout two-sided banner material for indoor applications; and FloorFlex Digital floor vinyl for UV or latex printers. “We work to keep our line diversified with some niche products to present our customers with some unique opportunities,” says Product Development Manager Matt Loede.
In fact, Loede says there are some untapped opportunities awaiting print service providers in areas such as the company’s established line of textile products. “We’re always working on finding new and unique applications for printing on fabric for retail and event marketing,” he says.
As far as applications go, customers want more choices in media to help them with the growing demand for digitally printed wall graphics. Larson cites 3M’s Wall Decorating Film IJ86E as a possible solution. “This film provides the versatility needed for use with a variety of indoor graphic applications, and its pressure-activated adhesive features slideability, repositionability, and air-release channels to make installation fast and easy,” he says. “And as a non-PVC product, it’s also a green solution.”
At Arlon Graphics, some of the latest products also address burgeoning opportunities in digitally printed wall graphics. “Today wall wraps have become much more than the niche they started out as,” says Product Manager Linda Babilo.
Those visuals are being used to transform the interiors of homes, public facilities, and businesses, as well as the exteriors of commercial and public spaces. The range of applications is driving demand for materials, which can be easily installed and securely adhered to anything from smooth surfaces to textured masonry and concrete.“
The most recent addition addressing this is Arlon DPF 4300. A calendared white film with removable adhesive, it offers the flexibility and opaqueness that make it a practical solution for new installations or to cover existing graphics.
Other Arlon solutions for wall graphics include the DPF 206 removable fabric film for wall graphics; the DPF 207 removable white vinyl film for wall graphics; the DPF 50WD Clear and White removable films; and the DPF 6700 Cast Wall Wrap specifically developed to adhere to textured masonry surfaces.