By Cassandra Balentine
Part 1 of 2
Print service providers (PSPs) have a wide arsenal of services to offer clients, many of which are accomplished with a versatile printer and cutter. Media compatibility and availability is a key component of the equation. Many PSPs see the value of any blank surface as a potential canvas, and offer solutions that address this opportunity.
Window graphics are an excellent example of a multi-purpose application. They provide marketing, privacy, and function. Marketers utilize window space to promote a brand or message, while architects use window media to block views inside or out. Finally, window media also reduces glare and blocks cool air or some of the sun’s heat.
One PSP that understands the value of window media is Action Reprographics. The company was established in 1949. Dan Lienemann and his wife, Wanda, purchased it in 1994. They are first generation print shop owners and quit their jobs as an accountant and a paralegal, respectively, in Houston, TX for the opportunity to own a print shop facility with approximately 10,000 square feet.
The shop serves the entire state and surrounding areas, but the bulk of its sales are in the greater Des Moines, IA area within a 100 mile radius.
For much of its existence, Action Reprographics operated as a traditional blueprint shop. That was its core business along with selling supplies and equipment to the construction industry. In 2010 it started up a division called Vital Signs Display Graphics. “We did this to better identify with our new customers and our sign shop capabilities,” says Dan Lienemann, VP, Action Reprographics.
Originally, the Vital Signs division was fully subsidized by Action Reprographics while trying to establish itself. Since then, it has grown significantly and represents nearly two thirds of the total sales generated by the company as a whole.
“Today, we still offer all of the digital printing and services for the construction industry as we have in the past. However, with Vital Signs, we now offer full-color signage and installation for practically anything. When asked what we can print, we often tell our clients that we can provide business cards to a full building wrap—and anything in between,” shares Lienemann.
The Right Tools
Action Reprographics is an HP Inc. shop. It operates HP PageWide XL 8000 Printers, HP Latex 365 Printers, and its newest addition is an HP Latex R2000 Plus flatbed printer. “In addition we have a Zünd L-2500 cutter, a Graphtec America, Inc. vinyl cutter, and a Kala Arkane 1650 laminator. For the RIP, it utilizes ONYX ProductionHouse from Onyx Graphics. Inc. Preferred media includes foamboard, coroplast, Gatorform, magnetic media, and adhesive vinyl.
Lienemann says it invested in HP latex because of the variety of applications it works well with as well as the benefits of no odor, flexibility, and the immediate ability to laminate without having to wait for outgassing. “One of the biggest advantages of our HP Latex R2000 Plus flatbed with roll capabilities is its ability to expand our color gamut. Our old UV flatbed had a color gamut in the mid 20s whereas the HP Latex R2000 Plus color gamut is in the mid 70s. This allows us to print colors that we were never able to before.”
About ten percent of the Vital Signs work is currently attributed to window graphics.
The type of customer looking for perforated media work is all over the board, according to Lienemann. “Usually any business that uses advertising and has a lot of window space is interested in window perforation for multiple reasons—advertising and privacy are the two biggest. We have found that people will leave these up for as little as a few weeks to a year or so, and then want to change it out to keep things looking fresh and new. The material can certainly stay up longer, but most people want to freshen up the look or promote something different,” explains Lienemann.
The shop prefers Continental Grafix USA, Inc. panoRama Innova 80/20 window perforation for its perforated window graphics, which it sources through Quality Media and Laminating Solutions. “This media is not only easier to install, but has been much easier to uninstall when we are changing out the graphic for a customer. You have more surface area to print on so the colors are more vivid, and yet you can still see out fine from the inside looking out,” offers Lienemann.
The company typically uses the same window media, regardless of the length of time it will be up. Under a year is considered short term.
For installation, it utilizes in-house installers whenever possible. Sometimes it outsources to an outside installer on an as-needed basis. “We can use the 80/20 window perforation, regardless of who is doing the installation because it is very easy to work with,” says Lienemann.
The biggest challenge for this type of work is ensuring the customer expectations are in line. “We like to show them our windows or take a sample out to them to see so there are no surprises,” explains Lienemann. He adds that having good measurements, a clean surface, and good graphics resolution are also must haves for getting a job done right.
Shoe Retailer Success
Vital Signs recently created a window perforated job for Red Wing Shoes. The customer requested a long-term graphic for its outside storefront. It focused on the outside of the window.
The team started the job by taking measurements of the windows that were going to have the graphics on them. It needed to work up a proof not only for the customer to approve, but to show the city in order to get the proper permit to ensure compliance. Once the permit was obtained and the proof approved by the customer, it was printed.
Typically, obtaining a city permit is one of the biggest challenges for this type of job. “There is a formula for each city depending on the frontage of the building and how much overall signage you can have. There is a fair amount of detail that goes into making sure you are in compliance,” admits Lienemann.
When installing outside window graphics, Vital Signs waits for the temperature to be above 50 degrees. Depending on the time of year it watches the weather and look for a good day for installation. Prior to installation, the area is thoroughly cleaned with an alcohol solution.
The creative for the Red Wing Shoes was supplied by the shoe company’s corporate office and the entire job—from start to finish—was done in about a week’s time. This included the quote, proof, permitting, customer approval, printing, and installation.
The window graphics for Red Wing Shoes were printed on Continental Grafix panoRama Innova 80/20 window perforation with an HP latex printer. Ease of installation and extra color pop achieved with the additional surface area to print on where why this media was selected.
Vital Signs hopes to expand its latex equipment lineup, and add more sales and CSR staff to continue to increase its output capabilities. Its experience producing a range of graphics helps fuel its success, providing customers with many graphic possibilities.
Part two of this series profiles another PSP offering window graphic printing and installation services.
Jun2019, Digital Output