Many wide-format shops al-ready have the equipment necessary to produce window graphics. So why aren’t they jazzin’ up customer glass?
“Everything is being wrapped,” observed Tammi Johnson, business development manager for 3M Commercial Graphics. “Window film is appearing on stores, quick-serve restaurants, cafes, and anywhere a short-term sale needs promotion.”
There always are spaces where customers can add graphics to promote products or services, or to offer a decorative element, Johnson added. And the best part for wide-format shops, she noted, is that “window graphics can be produced on the same equipment PSPs [print service providers] are already using in-house to produce signs, point-of-purchase materials, vehicle wraps, and other graphics.”
Claude Crumley, production manager at wide-format print shop Studio Imaging, Bensenville, IL, agreed: “Whether you’re printing banners, vehicle wraps, board, or window graphics, the principles are all the same.” There are three basic types of window graphics, according to Wayne Bohl, president of DSI Chicago:
- Adhesive-backed vinyl graphics, which usually are opaque
- Static-clings vinyl with a clear-background effect
- Perforated films, such as One Way Vision from Clear Focus, used on bus and train wraps
“The latter two are more specialty types of window graphics,” said Bohl, who owned a prepress/separation house called Color Works Graphics before delving into large formats in 2005. DSI prints much more of the straight-up, opaque vinyl variety for its retail and shopping mall customers, including General Growth Properties (GGP), one of the largest mall owners in North America. Bohl noted that the shop now has seven large-format printers, both roll- and sheetfed: a trio each of high-end Durst and EFI VUTEk devices, including P10 250 and GS 3250XL models, respectively, as well as an HP Scitex TurboJet.
In late 2012 its latest installation was the 126-inch Durst Rho P10 320R UV inkjet, roll-to-roll printer. While colors are vibrant and overall print quality is excellent, Bohl reported that the 320R’s productivity and top-rated speed of up to 1,440 square feet per hour is what lured him to make his latest grand-format equipment investment.
Parts of the Printed Whole
Often, window graphics are part of an integrated image campaign that includes other printed elements. Take Prism Graphic in Phoenix, AZ, for example, which used its 10-foot EFI VUTEk QS3220 UV printer to output window clings, backlit menu boards, and posters for more than 145 Port of Subs fresh-to-order restaurants throughout the western US. Prisma also produced smaller posters and tent cards using traditional printing methods. A critical factor for the customer was ensuring the color-matching quality between the various substrates used in every campaign and between the large-format materials and the traditionally printed materials. Prisma also handles the kitting and shipping of the materials to all the Port of Subs locations.
Back east in Chicago, Bohl said DSI shops media on a per-project basis, usually choosing Avery or 3M products. Among 3M’s latest offerings is Scotchcal Clear View Graphic Film IJ8150, which offers the benefits of durability and special effects in its optically clear, cast vinyl printing film. “When you apply it to the surface, you’re not going to end up with any hazing, and you will have an optically clear image on a long-term durable material,” 3M’s Johnson explained. “If you have the ability to print white ink, you have more flexibility to create special effects, like one-way vision, with one film,” she noted.
Scotchcal brand Clear View Graphic Film IJ8150 is compatible with digital and screen printing systems, features a PET polyester liner to prevent static charge or discharge during processing, and is optimized for wet applications. It also is easy to apply and remove, according to the manufacturer, and is offered with the 3M Performance Guarantee or MCS brand Warranty from 3M—and boasts an effective performance life of seven years.