The increase in capabilities in the wide-format printing industry is growing at an exponential rate. Along with the improvements in digital technology and capabilities comes the trend of using new and, sometimes, unusual specialty media. Customers are beginning to expect and demand more new and unusual products in order to stand out from their competitors, which allows PSPs to come up with innovative methods and exciting opportunities to produce eye-catching pieces as well as highly effective marketing products. There may be instances in which a PSP is called upon to use creative abilities and, with a little help from manufacturers and industry experts, produce something that may have never beenseen before in a specific market.
WFI looked at various applications and specialty media items that may be used by a PSP to entice new clients and to give value added services that will increase and grow the business.
Specialty Media—a Definition
At one time, specialty media may have meant something as simple as recycled paper, but in today’s market it means almost anything.
Jim Halloran, Lintec director of sales and marketing offered a simple explanation: “Specialty media is something that is not PVC based. Not all are PVC based, but it is common, easy to use, and cheap.”
Halloran continued: “Specialty media is such a broad term it all boils down to the application. I think we’re going to get better at manufacturing more environmentally friendly materials. Things that will be less cumbersome on a landfill.”
Rick Nerenhausen, director of training for Lexjet said: “Traditionally, specialty media has meant graphic films—backlit, POP, tradeshows, wall and window graphics, and floor and carpet graphics—outside the typical production media, like vinyl and paper. With direct print UV-curable technologies, specialty substrates could be just about anything, from metals to bamboo.”
Choosing Specialty Media
While it is challenging and exciting to print on specialty media and to create a unique product, it is imperative to know how to select the appropriate media for the job. It is also vital to understand how the PSP’s capabilities match the media and if the printing process is at all feasible.
Regarding choosing the correct specialty media, Teresa Skinner is the marketing coordinator for Aurora Specialty Textiles Group, Inc. said, “It depends on the application and the requirements for the application. You have to consider where it is going to be used and for how long?”
The PSP needs to be aware of the clients’ intentions. “It’s all going to come down to the end use. They all have to line up together, really,” Halloran said, going on to say that the PSP needs only to use one simple formula: Equipment + materials = end use application.
Barry Budwit is a 30 year industry veteran who currently serves as the Graphics Business Unit Manager for xpedx. When it comes to giving advice on choosing specialty media, Budwhit recommends that the PSP should ask a lot of questions.
“For PSPs to be successful, they need to tune in with their clients’ applications. Is it an indoor application? Is it an outdoor application? What would the viewing distances be as it relates to the graphic or the imagery that they’re printing? What type of printer the PSP is going to be using? There is aqueous, solvent, UV, and latex as ink technologies and print technologies. So that would be a factor. Also the duration of the campaign or the printed piece.”
Budwhit continued: “If its indoor, it depends on the lighting conditions as far as opacity goes; if it’s outdoor, it depends on the weather conditions and such. Is it prone to high wind, sunlight? All of these are factors in which substrate to choose.”
A PSP must also consider the client’s budget and if the specialty media is something that the client is willing to pay for or can afford: