By Olivia Cahoon
A variety of clients demand customized window graphics for privacy, brand promotion, and advertising. To meet these needs, print service providers (PSPs) offer digitally printed window graphics for both practical and aesthetic functions in home décor, office spaces, retail, and schools.
Above: Bannerville USA of Burr Ridge, IL created 38 panels of digitally printed exterior window graphics for Morton College in Cicero, IL. The shop used its HP Latex 360, ONYX Thrive, and Briteline 65/35 Window Perf.
Family-Owned & Operated
Established in 1937, Bannerville USA, Inc. is a family-owned business originally located in Western Springs, IL. It was one of the first light pole banner manufacturers in the U.S. The company operated with three full-time employees along with several part-time workers in a 6,000 square foot workspace.
In the early days, all of Bannerville USA’s banners were screenprinted onto canvas. In 2004, the shop purchased its first digital printing machine and made the conversion into the digital age. Today, it operates nine large format digital printers, a Graphtec America, Inc. plotter, and a Colex Finishing, Inc. SharpCUT Pro cutter.
In 2005, Ken and Patti Sitkowski purchased the company from Patti’s father and relocated the operation to its current home in Burr Ridge, IL. “Along with the move, we began to add product lines, and also began to work on new and exciting projects in schools, retail centers, and small businesses,” shares Tom Sitkowski, VP of business development, Bannerville USA. While the company continues to excel in light pole banners, it sees a dramatic sales increase in its other industries as well.
Bannerville USA currently has 23 employees within four departments—sales, graphic design, production and finishing, and installation. The shop runs as a full-service wide format print operation specializing in acrylic signage, dimensional signage, full-color banners and posters, graphic design, light pole banners, office branding, sign installation, wall graphics, windscreens, and window graphics. From a 13,00 square foot facility, Bannerville USA ships its products nationwide while offering installation services within a 150 mile radius of Chicago, IL.
Window Media Succeeds
Roughly eight to ten percent of Bannerville USA’s work is digitally printed window media, including perforated window graphics, privacy film and décor, retail signage and posters, translucent and opaque window graphics, and window decals and clings.
The shop started offering window media in 2008 for local businesses looking to advertise their name and hours on storefront windows. In 2012 the PSP began completing full window graphic displays. “Printed window media provides solutions to not only businesses, but schools, museums, retail centers, and non-profits to help promote brand messaging to their communities,” says Sitkowski.
Its most popular window media application is currently custom designed perforated vinyl for educational environments. According to Sitkowski, perforated vinyl provides a dual purpose. It brands school windows and helps promote a message while also providing safety measures to the facilities. “The window perforation provides privacy from the outside, while allowing personnel the ability to still see from the inside.”
Bannerville USA does experience some challenges with its window application offerings. Being located near Chicago, Sitkowski says the shop doesn’t have the luxury of installing exterior window graphics year round due to Winter weather months. “Our sales and installation teams work closely together to ensure proper weather conditions are met for successful installations.”
For its window applications, Bannerville USA uses five HP Inc. Latex printers including the HP Latex 360, 560, and 570. “We decided to move forward with HP because the company produces a high-quality product for a great price,” explains Sitkowski. “We get colors right the first time with minimum maintenance and training.” Additionally, latex inks allow the print provider to move projects swiftly through production with minimum downtown due to fast drying ink capabilities.
As its HP fleet of printers grew, Bannerville USA recognized the need for a unified workflow solution, and invested in ONYX Thrive from Onyx Graphics, Inc. “Onyx was a no brainer when it came to choosing a print software. ONYX Thrive provides a scalable print production solution with the comfort of knowing that we can continue to add printers to our production fleet without the concern of looking for additional software,” offers Sitkowski. The shop exhibits an end-to-end PDF workflow from digital file submission through color management, printing, and cutting.
Along with its printers, Bannerville USA operates a Graphtec FC8600 cutter and Colex SharpCUT Pro cutting machine connected to ONYX Thrive to automatically generate cut files and speed up production. Additional finishing equipment includes a Royal Sovereign, Inc. RSC-1402HW heat assist top roller laminator.
Window media selection varies depending on the project, but the shop’s go-to choices consist of products from 3M Commercial Solutions and Briteline, part of the Grimco Exclusives family.
Schools In Need
In 2019, first-time customer Morton College approached Bannerville USA and the School Spirit Lab to assist with decorating and branding its newly renovated athletic facility with interior and exterior graphics. Located in Cicero, IL, Morton College is the second oldest community college in the state of IL.
From the first initial consultation through completion, the Bannerville USA team worked closely with its client for six weeks. Of the six weeks, the first four consisted of graphic design layout revisions and collaboration with the client. Once the artwork was approved for production, the PSP’s team completed the project within two weeks.
The print shop produced the project on the HP Latex 360 using ONYX Thrive. The exterior window graphic was printed to Briteline 65/35 Window Perf with an optically clear overlaminate for protection. Briteline 65/35 Window Perf is a 6-mil white/black composite PVC with clear removable acrylic pressure-sensitive adhesive. It features a 35 percent open hole pattern and is available with an unperforated solid paper liner for latex printers.
After the project was printed, the panels were laminated, cut, and prepped for installation. Bannerville USA produced 38 panels consisting of 650 square feet of media.
According to Sitkowski, the biggest challenge associated with the project was keeping all 38 panels separated and packaged correctly to ensure a swift and timely installation. To date, this project is the largest exterior window perforated installation for Bannerville USA.
Window Media for the Win
Window media promotes brands, decorates spaces, and advertises messages for a variety of clients from retail and home décor to schools and corporations. As the capabilities of window media and digital printing devices expand, so does customer interest.
May2020, Digital Output