By Lisa Guerriero
About eight years ago, Bryan Mehr founded M2 Displays, believing his company could offer innovative products while still providing affordable service. Mehr had worked as a broker, and felt many printers weren’t taking advantage of the capabilities offered by wide format digital print.
“I saw wide format as broad, and you could do anything with these machines,” he explains. “Some of the people I was dealing with weren’t willing to try uneven surfaces, wood—stuff customers wanted. Or they did, but it was slow and expensive. I thought we could be the in-between.”
Mehr was eager to see what wide format could do. As president, he began experimenting with surfaces such as rocks and flat walls.
Today, M2 Displays focuses on retail signage using wide format digital print, although it also does some work in other areas, including silk screen printing and acrylic and wood fabrication. “It complements the printing really well,” says Mehr of the fabrication work. Though based in Fullerton, CA, the company handles jobs all over the U.S. and Canada.
Among the many services and products M2 Displays offers are wallcoverings, an application that Mehr says presents unique challenges. It’s critical to ascertain the wall’s unique makeup and texture. To assure a lasting image, printers also have to consider whether temperature or humidity will be an issue. “That’s the challenge when you’re dealing with nationwide jobs,” he notes.
Another common obstacle is measurement mistakes. Sometimes clients don’t understand the initial sizing has to be perfect, and can’t be rushed. However, according to Mehr, since wallcoverings are increasingly popular, these issues are less common.
Speed of Light
M2 Displays recently completed work at the new corporate headquarters of Lumexis Corporation, located in Irvine, CA. Lumexis manufactures and markets in-flight entertainment and ecommerce systems. The company requested appropriately themed décor to outfit a large portion of its new location.
“It wanted something that was high quality and looked really nice,” explains Mehr. He suggested wallcoverings, and after providing a sample, Lumexis was convinced it was the way to go.
The job required covering ten walls—three at 13×8 feet; two at 10×8 feet; one each at 14×6, 5×8, 11×8, and 48×8 feet; as well as a 9×9-foot circle. Each one required between two and six panels, depending on the size.
M2 Displays printed the wallcoverings with an Epson Stylus Pro GS6000. Mehr used eco-solvent inks to deliver nuanced color and depth of images. Each wallcovering features a unique, Lumexis-themed print, such as fiber optics that are pictured close up to resemble modern art. Conceptually, they all fit the Lumexis slogan of in-flight entertainment at the speed of light. The graphics were printed on SMUV6 by Read & Co., a 6-mil rigid matte permanent adhesive vinyl.
The entire project—all ten walls—was planned, developed, and executed in about a month; though the install only took a couple days.
There was a hiccup, when a boardroom wallcovering wouldn’t stay affixed. “It kept drying and then peeling again,” recalls Mehr. Since Lumexis and M2 Displays are both in Southern CA, the print provider used a trusted partner for the installation, so Mehr knew that wasn’t the source of the problem. He suspected paint.
M2 Displays warns clients not to paint a wall ten days before a job to be safe, but it’s a fairly common issue. That when paint hasn’t fully matured, it interacts badly with the media. With Lumexis, Mehr determined the wallcovering was gassed out, and the install team covered the wall again.
In addition to larger wallcovering jobs, M2 Displays does smaller scale work with only one or two panels. Some of its business comes from people looking to swap out their current wallcovering print with a new graphic. Mehr says it’s always critical to ask as many relevant questions as possible before undertaking the job. “If you do it right, it will go smooth,” he recommends.
Recognizing Wide Format
Mehr entered the wide format business with his head down and ears to the ground. Learning as he moved up the ranks, to eventually owning his business, he identifies digital as a technology that provides endless opportunity. It allows M2 Displays to print on surfaces like wood for retail signage or a vinyl used in a wallcovering found in a corporate environment.
Jan2015, Digital Output