By Melissa Donovan
Every year we kick off Spring with the Digital Output Application of the Year awards. Inviting readers to submit some of the most innovative, challenging, and unique applications of the past 12 months, it’s always exciting to see the work being completed out in the field.
Our 2022 nominees were varied when it came to projects. Some of note, acrylic displays, badges, plaques, floor graphics, and fine art. The winners are a nice representation of what is achievable with wide format digital print—vehicle wraps, boat graphics, pop-up signage, and skateboard graphics.
Thank you again to all who participated and congrats to the winners!
Repros Inc. of Akron, OH was recognized for its vehicle wrap work for Laketran, Lake County OH public transportation in association with the Mentor School District in Mentor, OH.
Laketran holds an annual Design-a-Bus-Wrap student art contest, which is available to middle school, high school, and college students from Lake County, OH. Winners of the contest have their design printed and then wrapped on a Laketran bus.
Repros donated services for printing and installation, and Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions donated the films and other materials. The winning design was printed on Avery Dennison MPI 1105 Easy Apply RS wrapping film and overlaminated with DOL 1360Z. Avery Dennison V4000 beaded reflective film and MPI 2528 50/50 perforated film was used for the window graphics. Repros printed using its HP Latex 3000 printer.
According to a representative from Avery Dennison, “the contest gives students the opportunity to be a part of their community through art and design, while also seeing the printing and installation process as their designs come to life on a working public transportation vehicle.”
Based in Marlow, U.K, Globe Print secured second place in this year’s Application of the Year awards for creating boat graphics for Monkey Fist Adventures. The print service provider (PSP) has worked with Monkey Fist before but this job came with a unique twist.
According to Nick Wintle, managing director Globe Print, most of the work completed with Monkey Fist was complementary as it is a charity. However, for the Atlantic Dash and Brain Waves Challenge, the PSP was awarded the job as the previous graphics didn’t meet the specification—they fell off. The Atlantic Dash is an endurance challenge involving four men rowing 3,200 miles across the Atlantic in 45 days.
Globe Print is a specialist in wide format printing with ten wide format printers in a 10,000 square foot space, offering signage, vehicle branding, and interiors to multiple companies with a staff of 12. With its expertise, it was well equipped to solve the challenge Monkey Fist had presented.
It printed onto Drytac Polar Grip with a Roland DG Corporation SOLJET EJ-640, and then overlaminated using Drytac Emerytex laminate. While Wintle notes the three year old business owns three different Roland devices, it chose the SOLJET EJ-640 because it was “determined that the ink set used achieve better durability to cross the Atlantic ocean.”
“The main goal was to ensure that the graphics not only remain on the boat, but looked as good at the finish of the journey as they did at the start, which is key as there is substantial publicity surrounding the event,” continues Wintle.
Multiple sponsor logos meant thinking on its feet, updating the design as sponsors committed to the event. Even so, Wintle and his team didn’t even install the final graphics. “Due to the timescales involved with different sponsors being added, the client self installed after training. Many were installed as the boat was being prepared for delivery to the Canary Island.”
The last minute application was one of the challenges associated with the job. The second involved durability. “With a normal boat wrap, the graphics would be well above the waterline so wouldn’t be subject to constant sea water abrasion. In a rowing boat, with the conditions in the Atlantic, the graphics are continually in and out of the water. The actions of the waves, combined with the salt water, are comparable to having a sander constantly being on, so in order to ensure minimal damage we always use the Drytac Polar Grip range with its high adhesive combined with the Drytac Emerytex laminate.”
Monkey Fist was pleased with the final outcome, especially with Globe Print’s ability to adapt so quickly as more sponsors came in and creating graphics that withstood the tricky conditions on the ocean.
While the job isn’t unique in the sense of the application, Wintle is quick to point out that it is a good representation of how important it is to use the correct product, and for a PSP to have the knowledge/experience/skill set to recognize that product.
Also in business since 2019, Puzzle Creative Solutions operates with five full-time employees out of a 12,000 square foot shop in Akron, OH. The company provides large format printing using a CET Color X-Press 500 4×8-foot flatbed, CET Color X-Press 1000H ten-foot UV hybrid, and an HP Latex 365. It also offers custom fabrication/woodworking with its AXYZ CNC router.
“This allows us to make anything from business cards, stickers, postcards, brochures, self mailers, door hangers, yard signs, and banners to larger things such as scenic displays, event signage, environmental branding, building signage, and vehicle wraps. We provide services for local small businesses to large corporate entities across the nation,” explains Mike Belofi, managing partner, Puzzle.
The company won third place in the 2022 Application of the Year awards for its work for City of Akron and Lock 3. It was presented with the job of decorating the city’s holiday tree in Lock 3. The theme it came up with was, Together in Akron. Using various landmarks from neighborhoods in the city, it styled a holiday-themed pop-up storybook.
Close to 20 buildings and statues were manufactured, ranging from three to six feet tall. The graphics were printed directly to aluminum composite material (ACM) with the CET Color printers, then shape cut with the AXYZ CNC router. Holes were cut out of the ACM and printed clear acrylic was added and backlit to give the proper appearance of windows.
According to Belofi, “the ACM was integral to this project due to its rigidity and resistance to harsh weather, as well as for its ease to cut and drill through; add lights and garland; and attach to posts on the hillside.”
Completing the graphics, 9,000 to 15,000 programmable RGB LED bulbs were strung over the tree, programmed to produce a holiday light show. In addition, a large two-foot edge lit acrylic, three-dimensional snowflake sat on top of the tree to finish the display.
The project was completed in three weeks—that includes design, build, and install. Belofi says the result went beyond the client’s expectations.
“We believe this project showcases a few of the main things we’re capable of—design, large format printing, and custom fabrication. And shows the potential of how large format printing can be done in unique ways other than standard large banners, wraps, or rectangular signage,” concludes Belofi.
Finally, we provide a look at the honorable mention winner, Real Color Design. The company, with locations in both Torrance and Thousand Oaks, CA, has been in business since 2008. With 12 people employed under Alex Costa, CEO, Real Color Design, the company specializes in art reproduction for publishers and independent artists. Working out of a total 10,000 square feet—the two locations combined—it offers fine art printing on canvas paper, aluminum, fabric, and wood.
Sideshow Collectibles is a main customer and a huge collaborator of Real Color Design’s. Working side-by-side the two companies constantly develop new products. One of which was nominated and won honorable mention for this year’s Application of the Year awards.
“Sideshow Collectibles is a company focused on quality. They are always seeking new ways to be innovative, while offering the best products and overall customer experience,” explains Costa.
Real Color Design presented Sideshow Collectibles with the idea of skateboard decks as pieces of art. Printing onto transfer film with an Epson SureColor R5070 using UltraChrome RS resin ink, the fine art printer chose the resin device because it was looking for a wider color gamut in addition to sharp images.
“Sideshow Collectibles has a reputation of quality products and we wanted to keep that on the skateboard decks,” adds Costa.
Sideshow Collectibles was so pleased with the final product, at press time, the two collaborators were working on new images for the next product release.
Thank you and Congrats!
Congratulations to all of the winners of the 2022 Digital Output Application of the Year awards. Thank you to the sponsors of this year’s event, AW Specialty Papers and Nazdar Ink Technologies.
Missed the nomination window? Make sure to stick with us and keep an eye out for when 2023 nominations open—you could be next year’s winner!
Aug2022, Digital Output