By Melissa Donovan
Residential interior designers and commercial property managers look for designs that reflect their customers’ aesthetics. Digital printing technologies meet these needs by providing cost-effective runs as low as one at high visual quality.
From wallcoverings to flooring, the personalization capabilities are endless. So, what do you get when you combine a well-respected and influential design company with a knowledgeable and ahead-of-the-trends manufacturer? A successful partnership that yields custom, digitally printed flooring.
Above: Graphic Image Flooring uses an EFI VUTEk LX3 Pro to print its flooring. Large rolls of sheet vinyl measuring up to ten feet wide and 50 feet long are run on the device with patterns from Design Pool’s library of predesigned patterns.
Based in Sheboygan, WI, Graphic Image Flooring celebrates nearly eight years in business. The company manufactures flooring for interior designers and architects, marketing and event companies, property managers, and direct to consumer. These requests are commonly found in commercial properties, residential areas, trade show venues, event spaces, and the marine market throughout North America.
Most of the manufacturer’s work is completed using digital wide format printing with screenprinting as an alternative. According to Tim Wirtz, founder/CEO, Graphic Image Flooring, digital is the only technology that allows the company to deliver a floor that is ten feet wide before a seam. “It is clean, efficient, and delivers incredible details right down to an eyelash in some cases. There are just no other technologies that can match up while offering a reasonable price point for the end user.”
Specifically, Graphic Image Flooring uses an EFI VUTEk LX3 Pro to print its flooring. Large rolls of sheet vinyl measuring up to ten feet wide and 50 feet long are run on the device. Operating in two shifts, the EFI VUTEk LX3 Pro is equipped with ink specifically designed for the press. Wirtz says the ink is vibrant, flexible, and opaque—ideal characteristics for custom flooring.
Large, minimally seamless floors is where Graphic Image Flooring excels, however it recently expanded into modular flooring as well as logo and printed floor mats. And just because the EFI VUTEk LX3 Pro’s width caps at ten feet, doesn’t mean wider projects aren’t possible. While seaming or multiple rolls are required in these scenarios, the final size is infinite as the manufacturer has completed projects up to tens of thousands of square feet for visitor centers, museums, and arenas.
Wirtz admits that while digital printing is the dominant technology, substrate or quantity are key factors when determining the best decorative method. He cites savings to the end user as a driving consideration and always favors a more cost-effective way to produce a product when possible.
Fresh Flooring Designs
In July 2020, Graphic Image Flooring expanded its reach further in a lucrative partnership with East Hampstead, NH-based Design Pool, LLC—a company offering an extensive library of original, licensable patterns for interior design. It connects interior designers, architects, and product designers with manufacturers like Graphic Image Flooring to create a seamless, print on demand experience that yields low minimums and less waste.
Kristen Dettoni, founder/president, Design Pool, recognizes the advantages wide format digital print specifically brings to interior design. “It’s made the ability to use print on demand technology for products requiring wide width materials, such as flooring, fabrics, or wallpaper possible. Without size restrictions, interior designers can use this technology to its fullest and customize products in any type of residential or commercial interior space.”
For Wirtz, the decision to partner with Design Pool was a no brainer, as the company’s customers over the years had noted a desire to utilize predesigned patterns. “The goal is easy. Leverage a leader in design to introduce and satisfy the countless customers in North America yearning for fresh designs for their floors.”
“We believe the best partnerships exist when both parties see the value in each other and support each other. We felt that with Graphic Image Flooring from the very beginning and are excited to work together. We think their customers are excited to have access to designs from our extensive library,” adds Dettoni.
Thanks to Design Pools’ library of vector files, customers are able to choose from a large catalog of predesigned patterns each offered in five colorways that are available in unlimited sizes without any necessary modifications. Being vector, Graphic Image Flooring’s designers do not have to waste time and resources re-sizing images, adding the possibility of error or costly rework.
Vector-based design translates well to other elements besides floors like walls and furniture. “We believe this provides the widest level of designed products that can be used with a single coordinated design. We are not aware of anyone else doing this today,” notes Wirtz.
“Design Pool allows us to provide consumers with cutting-edge designs that are personal to their space. Large flooring producers today offer their design to customers without the ability to personalize or customize. With modern options to choose from we can constantly update and bring fresh designs,” he explains.
A typical order involving Design Pool begins with the customer selecting a design—both pattern and color. Graphic Image Flooring reviews the dimensions of the customer’s space, adjusting design elements and such to meet the customer’s wishes. Lastly, the type of vinyl used is decided upon. There are two choices—a 1.3 millimeter (mm) thick residential grade or a 1.9 mm thick commercial grade.
Setting Graphic Image Flooring apart from the competition is its ability to print up to ten feet wide and the vinyl material used. Other finished floors are just under five feet wide and 33 feet long before a seam, whereas Graphic Image Flooring offers up to ten feet wide and 50 feet long.
The print is on the underside of the vinyl, providing a thick, durable wear layer. The wear layer, according to Wirtz, is nearly three times thicker for residential grade and four times thicker for commercial grade. “Wear layer is the critical element to the lifespan of a vinyl floor, so we feel we offer the consumer the best combination of durability and size for a quick and successful installation,” he adds.
With a combination of efficient in-house digital printing technology and Design Pool’s vast selection of vector-based patterns, Graphic Image Flooring offers its customers fast turnaround times. Production is usually five to ten business days on all projects.
The collaboration led to a positive response from the manufacturer’s customer base. Wirtz says that many of Graphic Image Flooring’s clients find it challenging to decide between all of the available designs and colors.
“As a leader in custom printed vinyl flooring in the U.S. we are always seeking out innovative solutions for our customers. This partnership provides this and more. We invite interior designers and architects to check out the options for their clients,” shares Wirtz.
A Successful Partnership
Print on demand drives interior design. Buyers from all backgrounds want something one-of-a-kind in their space. Digital printing technology is ideal for these requests. Graphic Image Flooring leverages this by offering specialized vinyl flooring. It upped the ante by partnering with Design Pool, a provider of a large catalog of predesigned patterns ideal for Graphic Image Flooring’s customer base.
Oct2020, Digital Output