Fifteen miles west of the city in Bensenville, IL, Studiocolor is a classic example of a color separator turned commercial printer that got into digital print and, eventually, added wide-format to the mix. The firm’s prepress roots date back to the early 1990s, explained Crumley, the production manager for Studio Imaging, a digital print and signage division begun seven years ago. Today, more than 10 percent of Studiocolor’s $2.4 million in annual sales is derived from its wide-format print business—and window graphics account for between 10 percent and 15 percent of that $280,000, he reported.
Studio Imaging runs window graphics on a 64-inch Roland VersaArt RS-640 eco-solvent printer. Even though five-year materials (Avery is his preferred media) with three-year inks are used, Crumley insists on laminating jobs for the extra UV protection. “Everything [used] outdoors should be laminated,” he noted, adding that the Roland RS-640 was installed three years ago to keep up with large-format digital print technology. It outputs at up to 230 square feet per hour, which he said is plenty fast for what Studio Color is doing with it.
One major client is the 2nd Appellate Court of Illinois in far west suburban Elgin. “We do the window lettering for all the new judges’ names,” Crumley said. “It’s gold with black around the outside—elegance in simplicity. Another customer is bridal and prom dress retailer Jasmine, Inc., which may need window signs that read, ‘25% Off for Prom.’” A larger project, literally, of which Crumley is especially proud, is the colorful 15x30-foot wall murals at the Adler Planetarium in downtown Chicago. “We applied 4.5-feet-wide sheets like wallpaper,” he explained.
“Most of our work is business to business. We do very little with retail direct. Our large-format services allow the sheetfed side of our business to get a foot in the door at advertising agencies,” Crumley said, explaining his firm’s diversification strategy.
Transforming Glass into Canvasses
In June, Lintec Graphic Films showed off a range of its latest PVC-free, premium window films at the FESPA show in London. Large glass panels allowed visitors to view new ideas and opportunities for architectural and promotional applications. All films in the range offer excellent see-through vision, and allows for images of photographic quality to be printed in vibrant colors, the manufacturer reported. Show-goers could test and view UV printable E-2200ZC and eco-solvent printable E-1000ZC films. In addition, E-1000ZC media also was displayed with a matched over-laminating film that offers excellent scratch resistance and produces an ultra clear end-result, the manufacturer reported.
The versatile Lumisty window film, which has a unique ability to control what can and cannot be seen by changing from translucent to transparent depending on the viewing angle, was also showcased at FESPA. It is often used to create privacy effects, draw attention to retail displays, or block unsightly views, making it ideally suited for creative, architectural, security, and promotional applications.
“Lintec Graphic Films’ wide range of PVC-free media offers a wealth of new opportunities for printers and specifiers to create vibrant canvasses for corporate branding, privacy, decoration, and advertising,” commented Andy Voss, managing director. “These films doesn’t stretch or shrink like PVC material, and remove in one piece, which allows for quick changeovers.”
Last October, MACtac Graphic Products launched the 600 series of window décor films featuring four privacy-class textures: rice paper, small squares, lines, and small lines. “These finishes are ideally suited for locations such as hotel lobbies, banks, and offices,” said Jason Yard, MACtac’s printable media product manager. The 700 series of frosted and dusted films extended its line in late 2012 with seven additional colors, including seafoam green, cool blue, yellow, and pink.
Also last year’s ISA and SGIA sign shows, MACtac exhibited its optically clear PermaColor ColorTrans CT2200 mounting film with permanent and removable adhesive. “CT2200 works as both a removable mounting film and as an optically clear mounting film,” Yard noted. The double-sided film is specifically intended for face- and back-mounting transparencies to glass, Plexiglass, and other clear or transparent substrates for indoor, outdoor, and backlight applications. In addition, it helps protect mounted images from fading caused by ultra-violet (UV) light exposure.