Applied graphics no longer adhere to traditional surfaces like vehicles and billboards; with today’s technology, savvy sign shops are able to apply graphics to the most unusual and formerly unforgiving substrates including brick walls, pavement, windows, sidewalks, and more. Our experts weigh in on how these graphics can be created and applied to give companies a modern marketing edge.
Fortunately for PSPs, creating graphics for rough surfaces does not typically require new equipment. Most existing equipment will suffice when it comes to printing the graphics.
Joe Walton, 3M Commercial Graphics Technical Service, says, “Sign shops are using their current wide format printers and laminators to create graphics for various surfaces. The key is to find the right product that will work for various surfaces. A product like 3M Envision Print Wrap Film 480Cv3 with the corresponding 3M Envision Gloss Wrap Overlaminate 8548G can be used for brick, concrete and other rough surfaces. For windows, a good choice is a product like 3M Scotchcal Clear View Graphic Film IJ8150.”
Jennifer Corn, LexJet product manager adds, “Inkjet media manufacturers are making it simple for print shops to offer solutions for rough surfaces to their clients that are easy to use and install. For instance, LexJet offers Simple MTS Adhesive Vinyl for multi-textured surfaces, which can be easily removed for up to a year and will hold graphics permanently in place for up to five years. There is also a wide variety of materials that can be used for windows, from perforated window vinyls to low-tack clear and white films and repositionable, adhesive backed fabrics like Photo Tex and LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric for shorter-term programs. There are also tools available on the market designed for application to textured surfaces, such as 3M's Two-Handled Textured Surface Applicator.”
Although existing equipment may work well in the initial creation of the graphic, there are some items that are required for application purposes.
Walton states, “Essential equipment is a correct wide format printer, inks and laminator. Most 3M films can be printed with solvent, latex and UV inks. For shops that do not have electronic cutting equipment or just want to avoid that step, 3M has the perfect solution that can create the impression of cut graphics on clear windows: 3M Scotchcal Clear View Graphic Film IJ8150. It can be used on vehicles, windows and other glass surfaces with endless possibilities for creative printing techniques.
“Once the graphics are produced, other essential application equipment for rough surfaces would be a heat gun capable of 1000º F and various application rollers. A very good tool for speed and ergonomics would be the 3M Two-Handled Textured Surface Applicator TSA-4. This tool allows the heat gun to be set in place, which allows for faster speed and less tiring than holding the heat gun.”
Corn states, “The most common tools needed are a printer, laminator, squeegee or surface applicator and cleaning supplies. Novice installers should stay away from textured and rough surfaces where conformability is important until they are better accustomed to working with the media specifically designed for brick and brick-like substrates.”
The Application is the Thing
While creating the graphic seems to take no more skill than usual for PSPs, the application of applied graphics to rough surfaces is the difficult part. There are precise methods to ensure longevity and a smooth appearance plus a few tips and tricks shared by the experts.
Jodi Sawyer, Market Development Specialist at FLEXcon, shares tips to understanding the application requirements:
“Have a clear understanding of the application requirements and work with a materials manufacturer that can provide application expertise and guidance. This plays a key role in selecting the right self-adhesive materials with the performance characteristics that ensures the longevity of the applied signage. Here are some key questions….