During a panel session at the recent EFI Connect conference, Hardwire CEO George Tunis (second from right) and...
During a panel session at the recent EFI Connect conference, Hardwire CEO George Tunis (second from right) and EFI's Frank Mallozzi (far left) discuss a bulletproof Hardwire clipboard that features graphics printed on Tunis's new EFI VUTEk QS2 Pro UV-inkjet printer.
EFI has announced that armor systems manufacturer Hardwire LLC has purchased an EFI VUTEk QS2 Pro UV inkjet printer. The newly installed, two-meter wide printer gives Hardwire the ability to meet growing demand by improving the company’s custom decoration processes.
For over ten years, Hardwire’s product lines focused on armor for government and military vehicles, boats, aircrafts, personnel and infrastructure. Hardwire began expanding into new markets about three years ago, after a spin-off of its military products, the Bulletproof Clipboard and Ballistic Tactical Shield, became popular with police departments and SWAT teams. Then, after the Sandy Hook School Shooting, the company again adapted the product line to develop bulletproof whiteboards, backpack inserts, and point-of-purchase shields for a growing base of customers that includes schools, office buildings, business travelers, health clubs, and retail and convenience stores.
These colors don’t run
The company manufactures its products by applying a significant amount of pressure to the ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fiber Hardwire uses in its armor. The colors in the inkjet-printed graphics Hardwire utilized previously did not hold up under those conditions, so the company had to apply graphics to the outside of its products post manufacturing. Now, with the VUTEk QS2 Pro printer, Hardwire can incorporate durable, UV inkjet printed graphics in the actual armor manufacturing process.
“EFI’s UV inks solve the issues we had before,” said Hardwire’s CEO, George Tunis. “With our new VUTEk device, we can print directly on the armor or on our specialty film layers, and the colors in the graphics don’t run in our manufacturing process. Not only will the graphics last longer during use, our decorated products have a cleaner, higher-quality look that allows them to blend into their surroundings in a non-militarized way.”
Hardwire installed its VUTEk QS2 Pro, along with an EFI Fiery proServer used to drive the printer, in December 2013. The upgrade in decoration capabilities will help the company’s marketing efforts as it introduces new products.
High-end imaging opens the door to new product offerings
The more-advanced graphics capabilities Hardwire gained with its VUTEk QS2 Pro UV inkjet printer opens the door to increased business in these new, commercially focused markets. The company is currently developing shields for retail stores, advertising agencies, and schools that incorporate high-end graphics. The printed shields serve as advertisements and welcome signs on a daily basis, but provide ballistic protection in emergency situations.
The VUTEk QS2 Pro is a robust, production-level UV printer combining true grayscale print quality, color accuracy and consistency for businesses looking to grow by offering color-critical and higher-premium products. The printer offers point-of-purchase image quality with six-color process and three-layer white inks. The VUTEk QS2 Pro’s user interface allows users to run multiple jobs at once without RIPing larger layout files. The printer, which now comes standard with roll-to-roll functionality, prints on rigid, sheet and flexible media up to 80 inches wide and up to 2 inches thick.
“The EFI VUTEk QS2 Pro printer has a mix of features designed to give customers new options for innovation,” said Scott Schinlever, senior vice president and general manager of EFI’s Inkjet Solutions. “Hardwire’s creativity with the QS2 Pro speaks to digital printing’s promising growth potential in unique, high-quality product applications.”
Hardwire’s new Fiery proServer includes a parallel-processing production RIP and comprehensive color management tools, as well as default media profiles, pre-installed presets and other automated workflow features. Hardwire’s production personnel can use the Fiery proServer to manage important details like printing mode, carriage speed, curing and shutter modes while receiving real-time printer status, job status and consumable usage updates.