By Melissa Donovan
Part 2 of 2
Digital Output’s Application of the Year awards gave us a glance at some of the creative, innovative, and unique work print service providers (PSPs) from a number of backgrounds are outputting on a regular basis. The variety of applications submitted were too good to ignore, so we also award runner ups in both the indoor and outdoor categories to Bricknowlogy and Sports Graphics, respectively.
Based in Eagle, ID, Bricknowlogy is honored for its work for Blair Pediatric Dentistry in the indoor category. Not a traditional print shop, this toy store prints directly on LEGO elements and other construction toys. Dean Barry, founder, Bricknowlogy, began the company after spending over 20 years in the technology world.
An avid collector of LEGO sets for 40-plus years, he always wanted to own a toy store, but wanted it to be unique and hard to replicate. The store holds birthday parties for its younger customers and classes on advanced building techniques and computer programming for experienced LEGO builders.
Interestingly, something that Barry always hoped to do was get his name on LEGO blocks. When he began Bricknowlogy, knowing he needed to differentiate the business, he looked into offering this service and found that no one else was really offering it. Unique service, check.
After researching various print technology, he came across the Roland DGA Corporation VersaUV LEF benchtop UV flatbed printer. Barry creates jigs out of LEGO bricks to allow each job to sit in place and run through the printer. “We have to be very precise with that process, trying to get as exact positioning as possible,” he says.
The work is truly one off, as Barry requests customers provide a JPEG or GIF of their intended graphic, which he then brings into Adobe Illustrator to clean up the file and then sends to print. Graphics can be as basic as lettering on a set of LEGO bricks stacked to 4×6 or 5×7 inches, or images of faces or t-shirts can be imposed on Lego figurines.
Initially, Barry thought they would primarily use the Roland VersaUV LEF to personalize LEGO figures or as they refer to them “LEGO Minifigs” for favors at the birthday parties held at the store. However, word has gotten out about the capabilities and businesses are also seeing the appeal.
Blair Pediatric Dentistry is one of those businesses. The practice requested 100 LEGO Minifigs with the intention of giving them out to their patients. According to Barry, since it’s such a niche product, Blair Pediatric Dentistry was very excited to work with him to create the personalized pieces.
It is jobs like these that enable Barry to experiment with the Roland VersaUV LEF. He’s utilized the device to print layers of ink, which provide a 3D effect. For example, creating suspenders across the body of a Minifig that pop up a bit thanks to the layering.
Barry is currently the sole operator of the printer, but it hoping to train his staff on it soon.
He has grander plans for the business as well—branching out of ID with a virtual storefront that allows users to upload images to a template and then he can print and ship. With the positive response from current customers and very little competition in the way of what he is doing, Barry sees a continued interest in business.
“It helps there is such a broad appeal. Children love playing with LEGO, but you also have a lot of people in their 30s and 40s who are collectors,” explains Barry.
Found in Indianapolis, IN, Sport Graphics was established in 1986 by Frank and Linda Hancock. Today, the company offers branding, production, installation, and distribution all over North America. Clients include those in professional and amateur sporting events, venues and organizations, retail environments, and conventions. A staff of 92 works on a production floor of approximately 35,000 square feet.
Some of its high-profile customers include the NCAA, NFL, and multiple top-tier universities. Its recent job for the JW Marriott hotel in downtown Indianapolis promoting the 2015 NCAA March Madness tournament earned it runner up in this year’s Application of the Year awards. The NCAA is a retainer client of Sport Graphics’ creative services division.
According to Angela Hill, VP operations, Sport Graphics, the NCAA hoped to create a “big hit moment” with a building graphic. “They wanted to enhance the student-athlete and fan experience and build momentum throughout the month of March in Indianapolis and nationally.”
The company designed, printed, and installed a 16-story graphic of a bracket on the face of the hotel. To achieve this feat, Sport Graphics relied on its EFI VUTEk HS100 Pro printer using EFI VUTEk UV-curable ink. 44,000 square feet of adhesive peel-and-stick perforated window film from Clear Focus Imaging Products, Inc. was used.
“It is an ideal material for the EFI HS100 Pro due to the large amount of square footage that needed to be produced and the time required to change over rolls is minimal. We use this same production process and material for many of our window covering projects, as it installs cleanly and still allows for visibility through the product,” shares Hill.
The time it took from job submittal to install was two to three months. The graphic installation began at the beginning of March and was completed prior to Selection Sunday. The Monday after, the bracket was updated with the teams who made the tournament. As teams were eliminated and others advanced, their names were printed and added to the bracket—making it an interactive experience. An additional 12,000 square feet of material was printed to for this part of project.
The continued updates to the bracket were one of the biggest challenges to overcome. Hill says the manufacturing and design teams worked 24/7 to produce and install in less than 24 hours as the tournament progressed.
The diligence and hard work paid off, as the NCAA is ready to work with Sport Graphics again in Houston, TX in 2016. An additional honor? The graphic was given a Guinness World Record for largest sporting event bracket ever made.
Application of the Year
We congratulate all of this year’s nominees! Thank you for sharing your unique, innovative projects with us and the rest of your peers. For those of you who missed this year’s nomination period, keep an eye out around May of 2016 to enter into the annual Digital Output Application of the Year awards.
Aug2015, Digital Output DOAPP1508