By Amber E. Watson
Window media provides versatility. Options include clear films, perforated material, and static cling. Depending on the environment and purpose, some specialty media is suited for high-profile marketing and branding applications in retail environments, while others are ideal for aesthetic and practical functions in décor and office spaces. With a growing number of options, window graphics are gaining interest and are an integral part of business for many print service providers (PSPs), such as the two profiled here.
Cool Look Outside, Comfort Inside
The AmGraph Group works to create lasting partnerships with clients and vendors. The company celebrates eight years in business. An approximately 12,000 square foot shop houses 35 employees and offers large format digital printing and brand implementation out of Ontario, CA. Brian Stewart, president, The AmGraph Group, has been in the graphics industry for the past 20 years. After moving to the U.S. from his home in Canada, he started work at a graphics company in Southern CA as a salesman, and soon after, he began American Fleet and Retail Graphics, which is now known as The AmGraph Group.
Stewart believes that great customer service along with superior quality products keep clients coming back.
Currently, about 20 percent of The AmGraph Group’s business involves window graphics, however, Mike Wilson, director of operations, The AmGraph Group, expects to triple year-over-year growth in the window business in the next few years. “From UV protection to obscurity and decorative window film, we know that offering window film is a good opportunity and it is an integral part of our current business model,” he adds.
The AmGraph Group currently uses Arlon Graphics, LLC DPF 50WD for window applications. “Printing on an EFI VUTEk GS2000 using EFI inks, we produce beautiful imagery,” says Wilson. “The ink sets that we use are durable and flexible enough to wrap around curved showroom windows or interior offices.”
Since 2006, the PSP has worked with well-known retailer Sephora on various projects, most recently collaborating on a window application for its Spokane, WA location, which is an East-facing, second-story building.
“The amount of sunlight coming through the windows created an uncomfortable environment for the staff, so we digitally printed and installed graphics on the interior windows,” shares Wilson.
Sephora requires approval and participation in all design elements, so The AmGraph Group works closely with its design team to ensure brand standards are met. The graphic was printed on Arlon DPF 50WD with the print provider’s EFI VUTEk GS2000, which provides the quality and speed the company requires to produce jobs quickly and at the quality customers expect.
The company contacted its Arlon representative, Dennis Ortega, regarding the Sephora job and to gather feedback on what material would be best suited for this application.
“Ortega suggested the DPF 50WD because it is a long-lasting window film that is durable in direct sunlight. We originally printed the graphic on another material, but within a year, it discolored and became brittle. We are glad we decided to reach out to Arlon the second time around for advice on a more appropriate material for this application,” shares Wilson.
Two installers applied the final graphics in six hours. The team adhered the printed images onto the second-story windows of the Spokane, WA building. Overall, the final result was exactly what Sephora had intended.
Arlon’s DPF 50WD Clear film backed with DPF 50WD White creates an impressive look. “At night, when the store room lights are on, the white stripes illuminate to create a kind of glowing effect from the outside,” says Wilson.
In applying Arlon’s DPF 50WD media to the windows, it not only creates a visually impressive look from the outside, but it also helps block out the sunlight and keeps the store room cooler, making it a more comfortable environment.
White Ink on Windows
Since 1978, Light-Works, Inc. has run a small but effective business located near Burlington, VT. With only five employees, this 6,500 square foot shop provides large format printing, UV-curable photo-quality printing, and true photographic and aqueous inkjet.
“We evolved from a craft-based, custom photo lab to a digital imaging print provider in 2008 when we stopped processing film. We are masters of up-to-the-minute technology, while also instilling craft and reverence to the photographic image, be it fine art or marketing graphics,” explains Marty Feldman, president, Light-Works.
Approximately 15 percent of the shop’s overall business involves window graphics and Feldman takes note of the “accelerating market potential for white ink printing.” In fact, much of Light-Works window business reflects this trend. “We primarily print architect-provided artwork, which are usually abstract patterns and gradients mainly using white ink,” he explains. These projects are produced on a Canon Solutions America (CSA) Océ Arizona printer using Lintec of America, Inc.’s Digital Window Graphics UV clear media.
“Our client specifies this media as they tell us it outperforms its competition for clarity, adhesion, installation, and overall satisfaction,” says Feldman. “The CSA Océ Arizona handles white ink very well, as well as the often-challenging gradients. The roll-to-roll mechanism on this printer is very robust, and because it is beltless, it is capable of running unattended.”
Heat from the UV energy is a challenge for various media, but over time, Light-Works has come up with a dependable process for managing the issue. “The main challenge with these applications is keeping the thin polyester film flat during UV curing. This can be overcome using a special loading technique, a modification to the printer, and heat removal,” shares Feldman.
At press time, Light-Works was running a 23,000 square foot project consisting of office partitions and interior office glass walls using all white ink on Lintec’s Digital Window Graphics UV clear media. This is one example of the many environments that Light-Works’ jobs are found in.
In another example, Light-Works recently completed a job for repeat client, SGT Boston, commercial installers of window films. SGT used the architect’s design and converted files to ready-to-print Adobe Illustrator Artboards. The final graphics were installed in the office of a Boston, MA area biotech company.
The fact that SGT and other clients rely heavily on Light-Works for their printing needs proves that advanced printing capabilities along with valued communication, reliability, consistency, and price lead to satisfied customers and repeat business for the company.
Window of Opportunity
Whether used to filter UV light, promote a brand, decorate a space, or advertise a message, the functions of today’s specialty window media appeal to customers from various verticals.
As the capabilities of these substrates continue to expand and improve, so too does the interest of customers, which means the market for window graphics is something PSPs should monitor closely.
Both AmGraph Group and Light-Works are forging a path for a number of PSPs who understand the innovative properties of these newest media solutions. Window media is more than just a retail option, it is now used in any environment that has a clear view.
Nov2014, Digital Output