By Olivia Cahoon
Part 2 of 2
Building graphics are used to promote events, brands, businesses, and people. There is constant demand for print service providers (PSPs) to create graphics, wraps, and letterings for display on large structures. However, building graphics also face difficulties like weather and heights. In this article, we follow a PSP who dealt with tricky weather and client demands to create a graphic out of this world.
Founded in 2011, i3 Imaging Group was formed as a partnership with Post Graphics, Sealand Graphics, and i3 Imaging Company. The primary members have been in the digital printing industry for over 20 years and passed their expertise onto i3 Imaging Group based out of Woodford, VT. The PSP began with four people in 2012 and has since grown to ten with plans to add additional staff in 2017.
The shop initially launched as a full-service wholesale large format digital print provider specializing in overflow work from its partners and worked in a 1,200 square foot facility. Today, it offers design, fulfillment, kitting, installation, printing, and project management and expanded into a 13,500 square foot facility. The PSP serves clients nationwide and provides graphics and installation services in Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Los Angeles, CA; and New York, NY.
Using a variety of different media, ten percent of i3 Imaging Group’s business is building graphics. The PSP uses a mixture of products from 3M Commercial Graphics, Arlon Graphics, LLC, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, FLEXcon, and Orafol Americas. It regularly uses 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply Adhesive IJ180C, 3M Scotchcal Graphic Film with Comply Adhesive IJ35C, and 3M Scotchcal High Tack Graphic Film IJ39-20.
Some of the first printers the PSP used in house included a Roland DGA Corporation SOLJET PRO III 54-inch print-and-cut system, a ten-foot EFI VUTEk UV printer, and an eight-foot HP, Inc. Scitex FB950 hybrid UV printer. Since then, the company upgraded to an additional eight Roland SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 systems for increased printing volume. “We chose Roland printers for their durability, high quality, and reliability of service with the versatility to handle our quick production times,” explains Jonah Thiem, CEO, i3 Imaging Group.
Using these printers, i3 Imaging Group creates building graphics to feed customer demand. Thiem explains that building graphics provide a high visual impact for brand identity and for intended messages from the clients. “The sheer size gives the client more room to work with to increase their message to their chosen market,” he adds.
However, Thiem points out that the large square footage of material and the logistics of the install are a challenge. Height, equipment, weather, and available hours during installation are all potential challenges. With recent advancements in media and print technology, Thiem doesn’t believe demand for building graphics will go away anytime soon. “Clients are looking for larger graphics to be used for shorter term events,” he says.
Marketing agency Civic Entertainment Group approached i3 Imaging Group for a building graphic to create brand awareness. Thiem says the client wanted maximum visual impact for an event to promote the MARS series premiere in November 2016 on the National Geographic Channel.
The PSP created a white curved geodesic dome to resemble a planet and contour cut lettering that would appear in front of a replica of Mars. To do this, it used 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply Adhesive 180C and 3M Controltac Conformable Graphic Film 8620 ES. “Since this was a short-term project we wanted a material that was conformable for the compound complex curves of the dome, and one that would remove clean at the end of the event,” explains Thiem. The contour lettering was angled and cut to create a visual flat plane.
Four Roland SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640s with Roland VersaWorks RIP software printed the graphic, a 60-inch Orca III from GBC, an Acco Brands company laminated, and a Zund G3 digital cut station contour cut. It took three days to complete from job submittal to install. However, the PSP ran into trouble when the client realized they wanted larger graphics. The installation was halted for 24 hours until new graphics were produced. After installation resumed, the entire job took six days to complete.
“As every job poses a unique set of circumstances, we are always up for the challenge to be there for the client to meet or exceed their expectations,” says Thiem. Others challenges included the application of printed and contoured cut lettering to a complex and compound curved geodesic dome 30 feet from the ground with a boom lift. To install the smaller graphics, the staff used a ladder to reach 12- to 16-foot heights. “The weather played a significant role during the install, which was completed in the pouring rain with gusty winds in late October,” he admits.
i3 Imaging Group overcame great heights and poor weather to deliver a 1,250 square foot building graphic. “We produced and began installation quickly as well as adjusted to the change in graphic size mid-installation and still met the event opening date,” adds Thiem.
Building graphics are in demand. The sheer size of buildings make for an innovative opportunity for advertisers. To achieve the ideal building graphic, PSPs may need to battle poor weather and climb new heights, as illustrated in i3 Imaging Group’s experience with Civic Entertainment Group.
Jan2017, Digital Output DOBw1701