By Cassandra Balentine
Part 2 of 2
Quality graphics require the right mix of printing and finishing equipment and media. Signs shops are able to offer a varied portfolio of services with select equipment.
Saber Sign Solutions was founded in January 2017 in Austin, TX. It operates out of a 1,800 square foot facility in North Austin, where it designs and fabricates signs as well as installs vehicle graphics. It primarily serves the greater Austin metropolitan area and surrounding communities.
Saber serves its client base with digital printing and finishing equipment.
The company’s equipment lineup includes an HP, Inc. Latex 365 with a 64-inch roll capacity. “Having previously used solvent printers, we love that we can take a job straight from the printer to the laminator with no delay for outgassing,” says Helen McKinstry, president/owner, Saber Sign Solutions.
If cutting is part of the project, the sign shop uses a Graphtec America, Inc. cutter/plotter. Lamination is done on the Graphic Finishing Partners, LLC (Gfp) 363TH laminator.
For design it uses the Adobe Creative Suite and relies on the Onyx Graphics, Inc. ONYX PosterShop RIP to communicate between production computers and the printer and plotter.
For media, its standard calendared vinyl for digital prints is Grimco’s Briteline Duration portfolio. For vehicle wraps, it standardized on Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions MPI 1105 paired with Avery Dennison DOL 1360Z optically clear laminate. The shop also uses specialized vinyl for specific applications such as perforated window graphics or optically clear vinyl for transparency.
“We design, fabricate, install, and service custom commercial signage, which can be applied to a wide variety of substrates and surfaces,” says McKinstry. She estimates that about half of the business is wide format digital printing and most of these digitally printed signs or graphics are laminated.
Saber prides itself on talking with its clients about how their signs are to be used, for what purpose, and for how long.
“Most of our clients expect us to recommend the appropriate materials for fabrication of their sign or project. Most clients do not specify the use of lamination, but all expect a quality project with durability appropriate for their needs,” says McKinstry. She adds that almost always, that implies the use of lamination to provide the durability, longevity, and increased protection for the print that clients expect.
For digital prints for exterior applications, lamination is typically appropriate, unless the signs are for temporary purposes.
Digitally printed graphics applied to vehicles are always laminated in order to significantly increase the life span of the vehicle graphics and to increase resistance to abrasions, dirt, weather, and fading, explains McKinstry.
Even interior applications may benefit from lamination. “For example, a digital print for a business sign intended to be used over a long period of time benefits from lamination so the sign is easier to keep clean over time. Lamination also improves the quality and ease of sign fabrication and installation. Laminated vinyl is often easier to install, easier to remove dust or fingerprints without damaging the print, and provides an improved ability to use heat in vehicle wrap or complex curve installations,” she adds.
As previously noted, the company utilizes the Gfp 363TH laminator. McKinstry explains that the device was provided as part of the initial package of equipment provided by Signworld Business Partners when it first established its independent sign business. “We love this laminator’s roll-to-roll capability. It only takes one person to laminate even the longest prints. It also works well when set up for laminating straight onto our production table,” says McKinstry. She explains that are having used a variety of different laminators over a period of years, the team find the Gfp 363TH is the easiest they’ve used. “It is less finicky in that even if the project isn’t set up in the laminator perfectly, it can usually correct itself.”
Saber uses a variety of different laminates depending on the project. “We use calendared laminate with calendared vinyl, cast laminate with cast vinyl, and finishes that are appropriate for the project—gloss, matte, luster, clear, and optically clear,” says McKinstry.
Saber regularly creates vehicle wraps, all of which include lamination. Outside of the traditional vehicle wrap, McKinstry recalls a more unusual project that used lamination with all of the same benefits experienced with a vehicle wrap.
The job was a graphic for Toyota of Cedar Park, a new Toyota dealership. Immediately outside of their showroom is a water cistern, which is used to harvest and recycle water for use around the property. The GM of the facility was interested in transforming the large utilitarian surface into additional long-term advertising space for the dealership.
After discussing the job with the client, Saber chose a vinyl and laminate pair designed for installation on complex curves, much like the media needed for car wraps. McKinstry says lamination was necessary for maintaining the clarity of the colors over time while subjected to wind, rain, dust, and the sun. “The cistern presented multiple challenges in that we needed to deal with curves of the corrugated surface in combination with the natural curve of the tank, bolts protruding from the side of the tank, and significant winds the day of installation,” shares McKinstry.
Successful installation was made possible through the choice of materials and the application of heat to stretch and form the material appropriately to the shape of the tank and around the bolts. “The use of heat during installation could have damaged the digital print had we not used laminate. The end result is a crisp graphic that is holding up well to TX weather and the client is thrilled with the additional advertising for their business,” offers McKinstry.
Saber is committed to improving the efficiency and quality of its vehicle wraps, which includes adding to its arsenal of tools and equipment that improves the printing, lamination, and installation of graphics. The shop is also always looking for new opportunities to expand its in house fabrication services to include routed letters and logos.
By understanding its client needs and anticipating when to add lamination, Saber offers quality, long lasting projects that showcase its skills.
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Jun2018, Digital Output