“But with HP offering a product for Latex printers called HP PVC-Free Wallpaper, high-res digital cameras, and the explosion of inexpensive, high-quality stock images available on the Internet, all that is going to change.”
The wallpaper Kranabetter references is a pre-pasted product that, once printed, is applied using nothing more than water, a sponge, and simple cutting tools. From an installation standpoint, the material is similar to the wallpaper purchased from paint and hardware stores for years. Kranabetter reports it’s very easy to install, and is highly forgiving for even inexperienced installers.
“Print quality, resolution, and color consistency panel-to-panel exceeds expectations,” he adds. “The price I sell it for is very palatable to end users.”
Millions of images are available for reasonable prices of perhaps $20 at sites such as istockphoto.com and shutterstock.com. Or a high-resolution digital SLR camera can be used to produce images for a truly unique mural, he says.
Kranabetter finds hobbyists from all walks of life locating his company, then ordering full-sized murals created from image files they supply. The murals are picked up by the customer or shipped in the mail. The recipient happily ends up installing “something unique and custom on a Saturday afternoon,” he says.
Keys to Success
Success in conveying to customers the full range of possibilities available in décor printing is often a differentiator between triumph and failure in this market. So says Todd Landry, CEO and owner of Pixus Digital printing in Lafayette, LA. The company has been in business 20 years, starting as a digital imaging company. Today, it turns out a wide variety of print materials, and its décor printing is usually produced on behalf of interior designers and architects.
“The challenge is the education part,” he says. “We tell people we can print just about anything, including wood blinds, wall murals, stretch canvas, fabric and different textiles. But the problem is getting them educated to that.
“That’s been a challenge, getting the word out and training the clients to understand the methods we can employ.”
That challenge is daunting, and for good reason. The dramatic revolution in what’s possible in décor printing these days vis--vis yesteryear’s techniques can be difficult to fully grasp even for a professional, says Green. “You can get the reproductions, the detail, that you can’t do with screen printing,” she says. “We love it. We print our images on paper first, then sublimate those images to fabric for tablecloths and curtains. You can get a much larger dpi that way.”
Retail clients, in particular, have to be alerted to the fact that digitally-printed wallpaper is a very inexpensive way of decorating a dull or dirty space, Green adds. The beauty of digital, she says, is its ability to generate the small, very economical run that couldn’t be achieved with earlier print methods.
“You have dressing rooms, all beat up, and you put that wallpaper in and they become little jewels. Branding is another factor. We can reproduce wallpaper with a logo or a theme that is distinct to that store, and then they roll it out as needed. Before, you had to make large runs to get a cost break.”