New Graphics Technologies Mean Smarter, More Engaging Graphics for Retail, Events, Museums and More

by | Jul 4, 2020

There are few things better than telling a customer, “We’ve got exactly the capabilities you need,” and being confident that we do. But in our business which covers creating all kinds of visitor experiences from live events and retail environments to museums, showrooms and visitor centers, we never know what customer challenges will come through the door next.

So, one of our long-term core strategies is to anticipate changes in customer needs – even before they do – and prepare to meet them quickly, cost effectively, with world-class quality and a smile on our faces. And one of the things we’ve seen is a growing need – across all our businesses – for more creative and engaging graphics, and for more flexibility in terms of quantities, sizes, formats and substrates.

That’s exactly what led us to the massive expansion of our graphics department that redefines what we can produce and the types of programs we can support. For starters, we’ve almost doubled the footprint of the department taking it to 10,000 square feet and giving it a new, more efficient layout. But the exciting news is the addition of some of the graphic world’s best, new printing and finishing technologies to our already substantial capabilities.

What technologies did we add? Well, for the graphic geeks out there, the two most important pieces of equipment are:

  • A VUTEk Super Wide Format Hybrid Inkjet Printer (see photo)
  • COLEX Sharpcut Flatbed Finisher (see photo)

For the rest of us, let’s focus on what this equipment lets us offer customers that we couldn’t before:

  • First up, we can now do much longer print runs cost effectively and fast – perfect for our retail customers who may need thousands of a single graphic for their display programs
  • We can also do faster, more cost-effective shorter runs
  • We’ve enhanced print accuracy, color matching and registration quality
  • We can now make each graphic in a single run different, allowing customers to incorporate “personalized” images or copy into every printed piece
  • We can quickly mass produce cut-outs in different materials thanks to the new flatbed finisher’s “dynamic routing” and laser cutting capabilities – for instance, cutting thousands of 3-D acrylic logos for retail displays
  • And of course, we’re giving our customers the opportunity to create more interesting and engaging experiences using graphics – for instance, we can now:
    –   Print much larger graphics in-house – any length with widths up to 10.5 feet
    –   Print on any rigid or flexible medium up to 2 inches thick including glass, wood, stone, cloth, laminate and metal
    –   Print up to 9-layers of ink on a single piece of material – making it possible, for instance, to print a completely different image on each side of one piece of glass
    –   Print “Day/Night” graphics – an innovative technique that allows a graphic to show one image when front lit – and another completely different image when backlit
    –   Add spot varnish to make specific areas of a graphic ‘pop’ or, for instance, add texture to an image of a wood floor
    –   Produce even brighter, clearer and more eye-catching images

And lastly, we’re making our customers “nimbler” with automation that speeds up production, preproduction and changeovers – including eliminating 90% of the many hours now spent on color matching between runs.

These new graphic department enhancements were the result of a 6-month team research effort. It included visits to half a dozen of the world’s best printing technology companies. But as Joe Sipia – Director of Graphic Design and Production – put it, “It wasn’t just about finding the best, it was about finding the best match for the unique needs of our many, varied customers.” And Jose Pagan, our “graphics technology shaman” (official title: Graphic Production Foreman) had this to add, “This equipment puts us at the forefront of graphic production technology. Our goal is to stay there. Thanks to the built-in upgradability of our new equipment we’ll be able to do that.”

We’re excited. Stay tuned for more as the new department gets up and rolling.