By Digital Output Staff
Trade show environments provide substantial sales opportunity for the print service provider (PSP). Today’s brand owners are savvy to innovative graphics that draw passersby into their booths. Traditional banner stand art, hanging signs, and rigid display pieces are complemented by decals found on floors and walls, digitally printed tablecloths, and even personalized carpet. There is no limit when it comes to promotional capabilities.
Every Piece of Technology
Based in Rockville, MD, PCI Graphics relies on a number of wide format digital printers to create various graphics for customers requesting retail displays, event signage, conference exhibits, and commercial building graphics. The PSP offers grand format printing, fabrication, and installation to clients in the Mid-Atlantic region and on the East Coast.
Established in 1976, the company began as a film-based photo processing business. Around 2000, Bob Green, president, PCI, purchased his first digital camera and once he started using it knew “our company’s days in film processing were numbered.” Green almost immediately entered into wide format printing and today employs a staff of 20 with a full commitment to the industry.
The PSP’s portfolio includes several devices from Hewlett-Packard, including a number of UV hybrid flatbeds used for rigid boards, vinyl, unique substrates, and prototype packaging; a solvent printer for grand format vinyl and mesh banners, and fabric backdrops; and a latex device for posters and vinyl banners. A dye-sublimation (dye-sub) PrinterEvolution device for silicone edge graphics (SEG), drapery, and event backdrops and an eco-solvent Roland DGA Corporation printer used for vinyl banners and adhesive-backed vinyl completes the lineup.
It is the diversity in the print provider’s hardware that allows it to stand out from the competition. “We are unique in that we have virtually every wide and grand format ink technology available. That allows us to produce jobs fast and efficiently for clients who typically have diverse product needs and short lead times. For a given project, we may use every piece of technology in our shop to provide the combination of substrates and inks to meet the client’s goals,” explains Green.
Customers such as major corporations, trade associations, non-profits, event planners, and conference venues request trade show graphics. Jobs range from a single SEG display or rigid boards for directional signage to complete graphics for an entire event.
PCI recently completed a project for the Congressional Fire Services Institute, which included a request for stage graphics for its annual gala event. The institute envisioned a replication of a fire station via a stage backdrop while also incorporating a Washington, DC theme. With photography available, the main challenge was how to place the images together as a seamless graphic all while providing easy setup and breakdown.
In response, PCI created two custom REXframe systems with SEG, which are available from Global Imaging. A suspended overhead and a ground level frame held the graphics, which covered a 40-foot wide stage and extended 11 feet high. Graphics were printed on a Neo from PrinterEvolution via dye-sub, and then sewn with a silicone rubber gasket.
“The biggest challenge in the job was the installation times, as the install had to be completed in a two hour window immediately before the event,” admits Green. A three-person installation crew set up both frames in an hour.
The Congressional Fire Services Institute was pleased with the end result, as the graphics completely transformed the stage. In response, the customer plans on using the REXframe systems for future events and having PCI produce new graphics as the need arises.
Current and Future
Currently, about 40 percent of PCI’s work is considered trade show signage. Green sees a direct correlation in growth as the company remains willing to tackle challenging projects with minimal lead time, like the job for the Congressional Fire Services Institute. Also, SEG are a driver of trade show graphics demand. The PSP’s investment in dye-sub and a partnership with REXframe to offer custom frame systems provides a unique type of display signage to its customers.
Sep2014, Digital Output DOTD1409