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Light Air's Images Take to the Slopes with the Rossignol Demo Tour

With the winter season underway at mountain resorts across Europe, the team at French large-format print specialist, Light Air, just finalized a massive print job on behalf of leading mountain-sports equipment manufacturer, Rossignol. This saw the Lyon-based company produce a series of wide-format graphics for the high-focus Rossignol Demo Tour—a multi-country, multi-resort alpine roadshow comprising events that allow skiers and snowboarders to test (for free), the company's latest equipment ranges.

"Rossignol's brief was succinct and clear," said Light Air's Commercial Director, Jean-Baptiste Aguettant. "We needed to produce 'intense, jaw-dropping printed graphics which would uphold a brand image that embodies superior quality, attractive design and high reliability.'"

This winter, ten European countries will play host to the Rossignol Demo Tour, which between them will stage around 110 individual test events. Given the scale and importance of the Tour, Rossignol sought a print partner that could deliver on two key prerequisites: first, to produce stunning promotional graphics that would maximize its visual impact and ensure head-turning interest throughout each resort; secondly, to do so by employing print technology that would not betray Rossignol's environmental philosophy and century-old respect for the mountains.

According to Aguettant, this combined requirement perfectly matched Light-Air's service offering, which is spearheaded by a trio of HP large-format digital inkjet printers, the most recent of which is the HP Scitex LX600 Printer, running water-based HP Latex Inks. This print stable has, in only a short space of time, seen Light Air earn a reputation as a fast provider of vibrant wide-format graphics that embrace a plethora of outdoor advertising and branding applications.

"We moved into large format printing only five-years ago and at FESPA 2007 were amazed at the potential of the high-speed, five-meter HP XL1500," he said. "Until then, we were focused more on traditional neon signs and had to sub-contract our large-format requirements to other print providers, which was not only expensive, but didn't give us full control over the quality of our production. Today, our print facility is 100 percent HP and our own appreciation for greener technology is demonstrated by the fact that we were the first print service provider in France to install the versatile HP Scitex LX600. The blend of attributes afforded by our printing arm meant that we ticked all the boxes for Rossignol, and as such, we are the sole supplier for this multi-country showcase."

Kicking off in Italy at the end of November, the focal point of Rossignol's Demo Tour centers on a purpose-built, specially-branded 'demo village'. This is set to comprise a series of massive inflatables, including two 36 sqm and 20 sqm tents, 3m-high totems and several huge arches marking the foot of ski runs. More importantly, these will all be adorned with attention-grabbing company and event logos featuring in-built durability to withstand the outdoor use and inevitable adverse weather conditions demanded of the six-month ski season. Additional promotional branding will be provided by a series of 6m-tall vertical flags, as well as a fleet of more than 30 support vehicles covered with self-adhesive vinyl graphics that also sport the Tour's official livery.

"In total, we will probably have printed around 265 sqm of banner material and used about 20 sqm of adhesive," continued Aguettant. "However, as with most of the projects that come through our door, despite knowing that this one was due, we only ended up having a week in which to complete the job."

Working to such an extremely tight turnaround from receipt of artwork to delivery of printed materials to Rossignol was, Aguettant acknowledged, no mean feat. Indeed, he is quick to highlight the massive contribution played by the HP LX600 Printer, whose odorless, water-based inks, he says, achieve a performance comparable to low- or eco-solvent inks. The printer features three 108mm HP 786 Designjet Printheads supporting a firing frequency of up to 24 KHz. Each contains two colors of ink and 1,200 nozzles per inch—or 10,560 nozzles per printhead. This enables Light Air to produce high-resolution prints at up to 1200dpi, while meeting the demands of high-speed, 70m2 production-volume printing.

"The beauty of the LX600 is that, not only can it help lower the impact of printing on the environment—thereby fulfilling an increasing customer stipulation to use greener production methods—but in doing so, it doesn't compromise one iota on speed or quality," he explained. "Instead, we benefit from fantastic image quality at very high production speeds, which given the seemingly impossible timeframes with which we sometimes have to contend, have meant the difference on more than one occasion."

As a company, Light Air has capitalized on its HP large-format print arsenal, which as well as the HP Scitex XL1500 Printer and HP Scitex LX600 Printer, also includes an HP Designjet 9000 Printer. This three-pronged HP printing capability not only delivers a broad, multi-faceted applications offering to Light Air's customers, but also enables the business to act as a sub-contractor to other print providers lacking wide-format capabilities of their own. Supported by a nationwide network of certified Light Air installers, and with an eye on a possible extension to its existing 800 sqm facility, the company continues to increase its dominance as one of France's foremost wide- and super-wide format outdoor branding companies.

"We are still a relatively young company, but our steady, profitable growth has been thanks to HP's innovative large-format technology," said Aguettant. "We have always endeavoured to remain abreast of our supplier's latest developments and would not rule out further investment in HP kit to ensure our continued ability to serve customers' future needs."

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