By Olivia Cahoon
Point of purchase (POP) applications benefit from digital devices’ abilities to handle thick substrates and sizes up to 120 inches. Digital flatbed and roll-to-roll (R2R) printers offer endless display options for temporary promotions and cost-effective solutions. Wide format flatbed printers allow print service providers (PSPs) advantages like direct printing onto rigid media. R2R printers offer media and job versatility with the ability to print on banners to fabrics. Hardware manufacturers advance these devices to offer improved print quality and productivity. To keep customers satisfied, PSPs create POP displays with the newest technologies.
Above: Sign Works of Bensenville, IL, used its Canon Solutions America Oce Arizona 550 XT flatbed printer, Esko Kongsberg i-XL 24, and AXYZ router to create 200 POP pieces for a new Schlage display.
Managing a Fleet
Established in 1976 in Bensenville, IL, Sign Works started with two employees in a 2,000 square foot work space. The company originally offered screenprinted t-shirts and signs printed on a Showcard Machine Co. letterpress with wooden type.
With 19 employees, Sign Works now operates in a 25,000 square foot facility as a complete graphic house. The company offers R2R and flatbed digital printing, CNC router cutting, laser cutting, and screenprinting while shipping across the U.S to offer custom signage and graphics for all industries.
“We are basically a wholesale shop for other sign companies and printers,” says Greg Janowiak, president, Signs Works. Janowiak started the company with his wife and now produces exhibit signage, POP displays, vehicle graphics, wallpaper, and signage for the entertainment industry.
According to Janowiak, Sign Works has no salesforce and obtains all of its work from repeat customers and referrals. The company is recognized for its ability to produce distinctive graphics for all types of environments.
The PSP uses a fleet of digital print technology to satisfy customer demands including two HP, Inc. printers—HP Designjet L26500 and HP Designjet T2500. Both presses have a 60-inch maximum print width and six colors. The HP Designjet L26500 utilizes HP latex printing technology for light boxes, POP posters, temporary textiles, vehicle graphics, and wallcoverings.
Sign Works’ lineup also includes Agfa Graphics’ Anapurna H3200i LED and an Epson SureColor. The Anapurna H3200i is a high-speed hybrid UV LED curable inkjet system with a print width of 3.2 meters.
“Before we purchase any printer, we send the files and materials we use to the manufacturers we choose and have them print samples from our files and then check for color and quality,” explains Janowiak. Using this method, Sign Works previews its usual orders on potential presses to find the most efficient technology for the shop.
Sign Works also uses Canon Solutions America Océ Arizona flatbeds and a R2R printer. A year ago, it purchased the Océ Arizona 6170 XTS UV flatbed press with six colors plus white. An Océ Arizona 550 XT with a maximum print width of 96×120 inches is also employed. Sign Works purchased it three years ago.
Like any new machine, Janowiak says there were several challenges for implementing the Océ Arizona flatbed printers. “There is a learning curve that’s mostly trial and error. We are always testing new materials and are never afraid to take on new challenges,” he offers.
Using the Océ Arizona presses, Sign Works prints acrylic, dibond, foamboard, glass, magnetics, polycarbonate, PVC, wood, and other flat substrates. About 40 percent of the work is completed on the Océ Arizona flatbed printers.
The shop’s most recent printer, the Canon Océ Colorado 1640, is a 64-inch roll-to-roll device. It uses UVgel technology—UV-curable ink that instantly gels on contact with media for precise dot placement and area control.
Recently, Sign Works switched all of its machines to Onyx Graphics, Inc.’s new ONYX Thrive, a scalable print production solution based on Adobe PDF Print Engine technology.
For finishing, the shop uses an Esko Kongsberg i-XL 24, purchased five years ago, and an AXYZ International router.
Designed For POP
In 2016, repeat customer Premier Fulfillment & Distribution approached Sign Works for a POP display job. The customer is a distribution company in Mundelein, IL that prides itself in reliability, flexibility, and quick turnaround times.
Premier Fulfillment & Distribution requested 200 two-part headers for an existing POP display of locksets for its client, Schlage. The Schlage POP display was redesigned to present a new look.
“The new Schlage display replaced an older flat header piece and was designed to give the POP display more dimension compared to the flat piece they were currently using,” says Janowiak. Premier Fulfillment & Distribution needed the 200 POP display headers completed in two weeks.
The Schlage display included a top and bottom panel put together with half-inch foam pads. The bottom panel was created with one-eighth-of-an-inch gray laminated PVC with brushed silver Chemetal. Chemetal is a collection of over 200 decorative high-pressure metallic laminate finishes and metal laminate designs.
The display’s top panel was directly printed with the Océ Arizona 550 XT and cut with the Kongsberg i-XL 24. Sign Works also used an ONYX RIP and an AXYZ router. The AXYZ CNC router system handles a maximum width of 128 inches. Its primary applications include exhibition stands, foam packaging, plastic fabrications, POP, signmaking, and woodworking. “We use certain machines for speed and ease of production,” offers Janowiak.
From job submittal to installation, Sign Works completed 200 POP display headers in two weeks. “We are known for fast service. Being a smaller shop gives us a faster turnaround than larger,” offers Janowiak.
With the ability to handle output on a variety of materials, digital flatbeds are used for a variety of applications including POP displays. PSPs like Sign Works take advantage of new and popular digital technology to keep up with trends and satisfy customers.
Nov2017, Digital Output