By Digital Output Staff
Part 2 of 2
Leveraging experience with new-to-the-market technology is a smart way to conduct business. When you are familiar with a printer from one vendor, why not incorporate a standout piece of equipment from that same vendor that is sure to change how you prepare, process, and print files. When completed correctly, the ability to offer customers new applications as well as a host of other advantages are quickly realized. This enables an end-to-end operation, making you much more than a print provider.
BPGraphics got its start in 1961, originally referred to as Billboard Poster Company. Up until the 1990s, it specialized in silk screening posters that were then glued up on billboards. However, as other forms of out-of-home (OOH) advertising took off, the company fell in line with the changing times, and expanded into new products like bus stop shelters and signage for the sides of buses.
In the early 2000s, the company expanded yet again with the addition of digital printing equipment, enabling it to produce applications like point of purchase (POP), event and venue, and fleet graphics. Aligning with these changes, it changed its name to BPGraphics to better reflect its portfolio of services.
Today, the print service provider (PSP) employs a staff of 75 operating out of two buildings that combined equal 90,000 square feet of space in Phoenix, AZ. It services customers throughout the U.S. from advertising agencies and media buying companies to corporate end users. Trade work is completed for other printers, print brokers, and display companies as well. The business is divided into six primary product offerings—OOH advertising graphics, retail/POP, event and venue, environmental, fleet graphics, and political/sign campaigns.
A Stitch in Time
One application the company produces is silicone edge graphics (SEG) displays. These are printed via dye-sublimation (dye-sub). Initially, the company worked with a PrinterEvolution Evo33 press from Global Imaging, printing to transfer paper and then transferring to fabric with a Monti Antonio heat calendar. While the Evo33 is still in use today, mainly for flag printing, in June 2019 BPGraphics acquired an HP STITCH S1000 dye-sub printer, which is what it now uses for SEG displays.
BPGraphics was the fifth installation of the HP STITCH S1000 in the world. The company already owned and operated several HP Latex presses, so adding the dye-sub device was a logical choice based on the fact that the interface and operation between the models are similar.
OEM inks are used in the HP STITCH, which Curt Carpenter, president, BPGraphics, says are 95 percent of the time printed onto transfer paper as opposed to direct to fabric. The transfer paper used is Neenah Coldenhove’s 70 gsm Jetcol product, which is then run through the Monti Antonio heat press.
“We do this for both quality and productivity reasons. Because we produce a lot of shorter run graphics on a variety of fabrics, we find it faster and more economical to print on transfer paper and then change out the fabric being transferred to on the heat press than to change out the fabric on the press,” explains Carpenter.
Pieces of the SEG Puzzle
For the actual frames used with the SEG, BPGraphics manufactures a lot of its own finished aluminum extrusion displays from a combination of raw stock and parts purchased from REXframe. The company didn’t always produce or supply the aluminum frame, and this is something that was a big challenge in beginning, according to Carpenter.
“We had to rely on others to accurately measure the frame and communicate how it was measured. Even though most fabrics have some stretch, the difference between measuring a frame from the inside of the track on one side to the inside of the track on the other side of the frame, versus measuring from the outside of the frame to the outside of frame can be significant. If we don’t know precisely how it is measured, it becomes difficult to produce an accurately-sized product.”
Another piece of the SEG puzzle is the silicone beading or keder. With SEG displays more commonplace then five years ago, there aren’t too many unknowns presented at the time of purchase, however Carpenter finds that customers often inquire if silicone beading used on a graphic BPGraphics prints will work in the channel of a customer’s existing extruded frame. To address this, the PSP stocks different widths of silicone beading.
Carpenter believes SEG displays are ideal for any environment where the user wants to change out graphics easily and offer a sophisticated look and feel. This includes trade shows, retail, airports, and other commercial settings.
“From a visual standpoint, fabric offers a refined look that vinyl or other rigid graphics just can’t match. Once the frame is in place, the graphic is so easy to install that a professional installer is not needed—any store personnel can install an SEG display in just a few minutes and have it look perfect,” he explains.
Differentiation from Competition
BPGraphics continues to improve its processes and gain in efficiency, and this is beyond printing. It sees itself as more than just a quick print shop, differentiating itself from the competition with broad product offerings in additional to handling the fabrication of projects in house.
“Printing is just one of the many steps that our products go through and to provide a superior product and experience for our customer, we have to master each of those different steps in the manufacturing, packing, and shipping process,” concludes Carpenter.
May2021, Digital Output