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POWER PLAY 8 Great Superwide Projects

PLUS: 路 QR Codes: Bringing 2D to Life 路 Business Software Solutions 路 Keys to Getting Funding


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in this issue

April 2011 Volume 16 No. 4

COLUMNS 4 InSight

 onfessions of a C Fast Flip addict.

20 Inside Output

 love/hate A relationship with credit cards.

22 Business & Management

 sst! Need P funding?

DEPARTMENTS 6 Wide Angle

FEATURES 24 It’s a Superwide World

By Paula Yoho

 rint providers and their clients are upping the ante when it comes to superwide P applications like wallscapes, billboards, murals, and oversized vehicle wraps. We tracked down eight intriguing jobs to look at how each shop managed to tackle these projects – from concept to completion.

34 QR Codes: Bringing 2D to Life

By Jason Pinto

Should QR codes be in your future? The 2D barcodes make it easy for consumers to quickly jump from a printed graphic to the Web by snapping a picture with their smart phones. QR codes also enable your clients to track the success of their printed graphic investments. Here’s what you need to know to begin integrating them into your product offerings.

38 Finding a Business Software Solution

Business-and-management software offers capabilities like monitoring inventory; pricing and estimating; producing production and employee schedules; automating shipping and fulfillment; and much more. We’ve provided more than 40 software solutions for the management side of your shop.

ON THE COVER: AAA Flag and Banner and Infinite Scale team up for a 16 x 20-foot wallscape for the NHL’s All Star Game. Cover design by Laura Mohr.

 THE

BIG PICTURE april 2011

J etta turned tank + upcycling billboard vinyl.

10 Feedback

From our readers.

12 Up Front

 ews + N noteworthy.

42 R+D

 he latest tech, T products, and supplies.

52 Job Log

 n oven-roasted A shelter.


Mimaki_Ingred2_F_BP0411_Layout 1 3/8/11 10:16 AM Page 1

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insight by Gregory Sharpless

www.bigpicture.net Gregory Sharpless Editor/Associate Publisher gregory.sharpless@stmediagroup.com

Confessions Of a Fast Flip Addict I admit it: I’m addicted to Google’s Fast Flip. If you’re not familiar with Fast Flip, it’s the section on Google’s home page that allows readers to browse sequentially through bundles of recent news, headlines, and popular topics, as well as feeds from various top publishers. Introduced in late 2009, Fast Flip is, as the name indicates, fast. You can rapidly flip through all kinds of content, scanning pages until you find something interesting. There’s no delay waiting for content to load or scroll – it is, in effect, much like flipping through a printed magazine or newspaper. Google initially partnered with about three dozen publishers to produce the content for Fast Flip, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Salon, Fast Company, and others, and I believe they’ve since added other sources. Fast Flip also personalizes the “flipping” experience to some degree, taking cues from selections that are made by the reader to show more content from sources and topics that the reader seems to like. And Google has made a mobile version of Fast Flip with tactile page-flipping for devices like the iPhone. Some reviewers have called Fast Flip a novelty, but I find it extremely useful in quickly moving through information from the past news cycle. And it sometimes has a direct payoff in generating content ideas for The Big Picture. I applaud Google for trying something that’s a bit different here. With Fast Flip, they’re striving to see if they can help their users by experimenting with a different way to deliver content. Although their standard content delivery works just fine, someone at Google apparently was not afraid to speak up during a meeting and say, “Hey, what do you think about…?” And, importantly, someone in a position to give the concept a green flag was not afraid to say, “That’s an interesting idea, you might have something here – why don’t you pursue it and let’s see what develops.” Which leads me to this question: How do you, as a business owner or manager, approach ideas generated by your staff ? Are you receptive to these ideas, even if they might be ideas you have never considered? What about ideas from new personnel – do you sometimes shrug these off just because the person is new? Or, on the other side of the fence, do you find yourself brushing off suggestions from veteran employees but welcoming those from new staffers? If you asked your staff if you are “an idea killer,” what do you think they would say?

Britney Grimmelsman Associate Editor britney.grimmelsman@stmediagroup.com Laura Mohr Art Director laura.mohr@stmediagroup.com Marty McGhie, Craig Miller, Jared Smith Columnists Linda Volz Production Supervisor linda.volz@stmediagroup.com Lou Arneberg - Midwest US Ben Stauss - Western US, Western Canada, Asia Lisa Zurick - Eastern US, Eastern Canada, Europe Business Development Managers Rick Bachelder, Kathy Boydstun, Terry Corman, Scott Crosby, Brandon Gabriel, Michael Garcia, Kirk Green, Robert Kissel, Craig Miller, Greg Root, Jared Smith, Mark Taylor Editorial Advisory Board

Tedd Swormstedt President Steve Duccilli Group Publisher Christine Baloga Audience Development Director John Tymoski Associate Director/Online Subscription Services (847) 763-4938 tbp@halldata.com bigpicture.net/subscribe bigpicture.net/renew Single Copies/Back Issues Debbie Reed debbie.reed@stmediagroup.com

THE BIG PICTURE (ISSN 1082-9660) is published 12 times annually by ST Media Group International Inc., 11262 Cornell Park Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45242-1812. Telephone: (513) 421-2050, Fax: (513) 362-0317. No charge for subscriptions to qualified individuals. Annual rate for subscriptions to non-qualified individuals in the U.S.A.: $42 USD. Annual rate for subscriptions in Canada: $70 USD (includes GST & postage); all other countries: $92 (Int’l mail) payable in U.S. funds. Printed in the U.S.A. Copyright 2011, by ST Media Group International Inc. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations. Periodicals Postage Paid at Cincinnati, OH and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Big Picture, P.O. Box 1060, Skokie, IL 60076. Change of address: Send old address label along with new address to The Big Picture, P.O. Box 1060, Skokie, IL 60076.

4

THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011

11262 Cornell Park Drive Cincinnati, OH 45242 tel (513) 421-2050 fax (513) 421-5144


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wide angle

Jetta Turned Tank When Greg Nicola, owner of California tattoo studio Armored Ink, came to Loring Studios (loringstudios.com) looking to wrap his shop’s 2002 Volkswagen Jetta, Loring designer Josh Tolbert developed the idea to visually turn the compact car into a heavy-duty tank. Tolbert even ventured to the General Patton Memorial Museum to produce the most authentic and aged “tank look,” capturing high-res images of genuine tanks on a Canon digital SLR, then replicated and manipulated the images for the wrap design using Adobe Design Suite. Graphics were output using Loring Studios’ Roland SolJet Pro III XC-540 printer and Roland Eco Sol Max inks onto 279 square feet of Oracal Orajet 3951RA cast film, then laminated with Oracal Oraguard 290M. 6

THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011


www.bigpicture.net




wide angle

Upcycling Billboard Vinyl Made from recycled billboard vinyl, Paper-Feet are the latest eco-conscious products from the folks at MMT (mmt.com). The minimalist-art barefoot sandals are, like their vinyl progenitors, paper-thin, waterproof, and UV-resistant; they’re also foldable and rollable for pocketable portability. Handmade in Michigan, each pair of Paper-Feet is signed and numbered by the designer. No two pair are alike, reports MMT, “in fact, sometimes each shoe is different!” 8

THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011


feedback

From our readers We welcome letters from readers on any of the articles or items appearing in The Big Picture. Send letters to: bigpicletters@stmediagroup.com (subject line: Feedback), and be sure to include your e-mail and/or phone number for verification. All letters are subject to editing for content and space. Sorry, anonymous letters will not be published.

Beyond the solvents?

Deciding on the open-house invitees

I really appreciated the “Finding Solvent Success” article in your March issue, but will you also be similarly covering UV printers – those are apparently the “hot” technology right now, right? Joseph P. Metty Hobbs, New Mexico

Our shop is considering having an open house this summer, similar to the event USA Image had (“Showing Off the Shop,” February). But drawing up the invite list is becoming a bit like deciding who to invite to a wedding – it’s so long it’s now getting out of hand. Any tips on how to pare down the list? Darrell Crowley Moncks Corner, South Carolina

Yes, we will have a similar type of coverage for UV printers in our May issue. Our goal in covering solvents and mild solvents as we did was to ensure that readers don’t neglect them as a viable print option – as you can see, there are still quite a few solvent models available. And, don’t forget that all ink technologies (including aqueous) will be covered in our July rollfed printer charts and our August fl atbed printer charts.

Pinpointing the right locale

Up Next

Image Options, whose Titleist trailer project we featured in our March issue (“Finding Solvent Success”), is headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California, not San Diego as we reported. We regret the error! Image Options (imageoptions. net) provides visual communication in retail, exhibit, event, and installation for corporations and retailers worldwide.

10

We’re hard at work on upcoming features and would love to include your shop’s recent projects in our articles. We’re particularly looking for jobs featuring these applications/technologies: • Point-of-purchase • Flatbeds and rigid media • Out-of-home projects Drop us a note at bigpicletters@stmediagroup. com (subject line: up next project) with a brief description of the job. Please include client, date of completion, and anything you feel to be particularly noteworthy. We’ll follow up with you for more information.

THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011

One way to go is to consider only inviting your current client base, and leaving out prospects for this particular event. Says Judd Morgan at USA Image: “New and prospective clients do attend, however it’s better, in my opinion, to garner those relationships outside of an open-house format first. Because a large part of our new business relies on word of mouth, we can expect our client base to tell others about the event, and I list a small recap on the website for those who could not attend.” Another option is to have two separate events – one for existing clients and one for prospects. For the latter event, you could integrate an educational component – “What is wide-format printing and how can it benefit your company’s marketing?” for instance. You might even consider bringing in city and regional governmental offi cials to the event, to boost its PR value to the local news media.

Online ordering I was surprised that none of the print shops referenced in your February story on having a strong Web presence (“Making Your Mark Online”) seemed to have any kind of online-ordering component. Eric Lamount McDonough, Georgia We intentionally avoided that topic for this particular article, in the interest of space, but plan to give that particular subject its own feature coverage later this year. Stay tuned!


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upfront upfront

Art on the Move

To turn the Youth Without Shelter GM minivan (top) into an urban graffiti canvas, the artist known as Mediah worked with 20 children from the Steps Program, which helps homeless youth obtain housing and skills to earn an education or employment. “Mediah used photos of the youth dancing and posing, and these images were transformed into silhouettes in Illustrator,” says Curry. “The background of the design is graffiti art created by the same youth that was digitally photographed.” In creating the wrap for this Ford Transit Connect van (above) owned by AutoShare — a car-sharing vehicle company providing transportation to the community while reducing CO2 emissions — artist Susan Rowe Harrison used a desktop scanner to digitize artwork created by school children from the Karen Kain School of the Arts. She worked with Photoshop and Illustrator to compile the art into a single comprehensive design featuring maps and icons representing the urban environment.

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THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011

Public-transportation vehicles can lack artistic appeal while being covered in little more than strategic marketing messages vying for consumer attention – at least that’s the general consensus of Arts Etobicoke and Lakeshore Arts, two Canadian community arts organizations. Seeing these vehicles as “moving canvasses” rather than a pure advertising medium, the organizations teamed up to develop a three-year initiative – the aptly named Art on the Move. The initiative basically works like this: Art on the Move partners with local artists who, in turn, mentor community groups to create art that is then morphed into vehicle wraps for private, public, and nonprofit sector vehicles. To print the wraps, Art on the Move works with print provider Toronto Digital Imaging (TDI, tdi-imaging.com). “I contacted Dave Boye from TDI, set up a meeting with him, and discussed our three-year project,” says Graham Curry, Art on the Move project coordinator. The result? “Local vehicles are wrapped in art instead of advertising, bringing art directly to communities in a non-elitist and grassroots manner, increasing the accessibility, appreciation, and support of the arts,” says Curry. The 2010 edition of the Art on the Move project – which took place late last summer – included five teams, four vehicles, and one sailboat (which was the only project painted, not wrapped). Each team paired a paid, local artist with a community organization, with each team being assigned a vehicle. Together, the artist, community organization, and the vehicle owner worked to create their specific vehicle-wrap work of art. TDI output all wraps using a 5-meter HP Scitex XL Jet Premium printer with HP Scitex XL300 Supreme Ink onto 48-inch tiles of 3M vinyl. Each job took approximately an hour to print, with an additional hour of lamination time, using a Seal laminator with Valspar AquaGuard liquid laminate; install time was six hours total for the four wraps. Although the shop’s job was smooth sailing during the process – neither the print nor install team faced any extraordinary challenges for any wrap, says Boye – the community artists had a more difficult time. “Some of the artists have some graphic-design knowledge, but many do not. When it comes time to translate all artwork into digital designs that will be printed in large-format fleet graphics, we have found this technical process to be difficult for most of our artists. We have relied on TDI’s prepress department to assist in the process,” says Curry. During the 2011 project – which takes place this summer – five new teams will work to create five additional “works of art on wheels.” With the success of the community art initiative, Art on the Move hopes to keep the project on the road.


Conference Set For College-based Print Providers

MetroMan, an Etobicoke-based general contracting and design company, allowed its Toyota Tacoma company truck (top) to be wrapped in “personal history” paintings created by senior citizens from the Davenport-Perth Neighborhood Center, which offers services and programs to vulnerable, low-income communities. Painter Leah Gold led the team and consolidated all of the paintings into a single design for the wrap. To ensure a unified design, Gold had the seniors paint using only two colors: white and a color of their choice. Artist Rebecca Baird and youths from the Native Canadian Center of Toronto worked together to create an “urban meets nature in the city”-themed design for this C1 Art Space Ford Windstar minivan wrap (above). Line drawings were paired with graffiti art to comprise the final design, which was created in Adobe Photoshop. The van will reside outside of the C1 Art Space to provide streetside art viewing for the many passersby.

The Association of College & University Printers (ACUP, acup-edu.org) is actively seeking new membership registration for the first time in its history. The 46-year-old institution, which became an official nonprofit organization in 2010, represents print providers in US higher-education institutions as well as those in international colleges and universities. Executive director Tom Tozier says the group anticipates 300 to 500 new active members in the first year. “ACUP is here to support higher-education in-plants in as many ways as possible – that includes providing best practices, networking, and vendor links for technologies that are driving print business, such as wideformat. Wide-format printing is a big part of many campuses’ service offerings and the 2011 ACUP conference will provide a forum to discuss success stories and strategies from and for those who provide wide format, who plan to provide wide format, or those who just want to hear more about how it works. Beyond the conference, ACUP will also offer resources through our website to keep folks in the know about the wide-format world.” ACUP’s 2011 conference will be held April 17-21 in Dallas; the conference schedule was being finalized as this issue went to press. Conference fee is $375, which includes membership dues, educational sessions, meals, exhibits, and more.

% 4

Projected increase of retailindustry sales in 2011 vs. 2010, according to the National Retail Federation (nrf.com). www.bigpicture.net

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upfront

Spin Doctors The 2011 World Sign Spinning Championships were held February 18-19 in Hollywood, California, where more than 60 of the fastest and most talented sign spinners vied for the “World’s Best” title. Laramie Rosenfeld spun away with the title of 2011 World Sign Spinning Champion, followed by last year’s winner, Ray Rivera, who placed second, and Mike Wright, who placed third. Each sign spinner had to prepare a choreographed routine to a song of choice. All competitors were judged on their performance and showmanship, style, and originality, as well as technicality of trick knowledge and execution. “Every year, we bring the best sign spinners from around the globe to one place so they can show off skills and push each other to higher levels of performance,” says AArrow Advertising COO Michael Kenny. The Sign Spinning Championships are sponsored by AArrow Advertising (aarrowads.com), the Los Angeles-based guerilla-marketing franchise; the company trains sign spinners around the world for events and marketing campaigns throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

Turning Fine Art into Printed Gold Digital Alchemy is the title of printmaker Bonny Pierce Lhotka’s new book. Her latest volume takes the reader step-by-step through more than a dozen projects, providing detailed information on how to transfer and print images to a variety of surfaces using techniques Lhotka has spent years developing. Just a few of the book’s topics and projects include: • Transfer images to metal, wood, plastic, and other materials that will not feed through an inkjet printer; • Print directly on metal; • Simulate a print from a UV flatbed printer using a desktop printer; • Use carrier sheets and paintable precoats to print on almost any surface; and • Achieve near-lithographic-quality digital prints with transfer processes to uncoated fine-art paper. In addition to the printed tutorials, the book also includes a DVD that features more than 60 minutes of video footage on topics such as performing an alcohol gel transfer, transferring an image to a wooden surface, and more. Signed copies of the book, complete with 3D glasses, are available directly from the artist at digitalalchemybook.com.

14

THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011


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upfront

Making a Statement Sans Graphics Don’t tell your customers, but sometimes it’s possible to make a big statement without print being in the mix. Case in point: Situ Studio’s (situstudio.com) work for the reOrder exhibit that opened in March at the Brooklyn Museum and involved transforming the museum’s 10,000-square-foot Great Hall using 2440 yards of Sunbrella Canvas Natural fabric. The fabric, donated by Glen Raven, was pleated and stretched over metal frames “to create the illusion of growth and change among the columns,” with the fabric structures varying in size and volume. Benches and tables made of LG Hausys Hi-Macs acrylic solid surface were added at the bases of the fabric structures to complete the exhibit.

Xerox Opts Out Of Wide-Format Products in US, Canada Xerox (xerox.com) has announced that it will stop taking orders for wide-format products in the US and Canada in 2011, with specific timing based on inventory levels. In The Big Picture’s most current Printer Sourcebook, Xerox listed two printer series in its rollfed printer roster: the 8254E/8264E 4-color printers and the 8265/8290 6-color (CMYKcm) printers, all eco-solvents. In a statement, Xerox indicated: “Xerox prioritizes each investment, allocating research and development dollars to areas where the company can deliver the best value to the marketplace. As a result of this practice, Xerox has opted to not invest in wide-format product engineering in 2011. “Customers will continue to have access to service support, supplies, media, and parts from Xerox for their existing equipment for a minimum of five years from the last install of a particular product line,” the company continued. It’s important to note that Xerox’s European and Developing Market operations will continue selling wide-format products and will continue to source new products, the company reports.

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THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011

market metrics

Longevity of Husband-and-WifeOwned Businesses

Survive to the second generation

40%

Survive to the third generation

13%

Survive to the fourth generation

3%

0%

10%

20%

The average lifespan of a husbandand-wife-owned business is 24 years. Source: Intuit Inc. (intuit.com)

30%

40%


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editorial board

Meet Our Advisory Group The following 12 leaders from the digital-graphics arena comprise our Editorial Advisory Board, providing us with expertise and feedback, helping ensure that The Big Picture continues to cover the most critical subjects of interest to print providers. Rick Bachelder President, Filmet, Tarentum, PA Filmet (filmet.com) has invested heavily in digital printing. The company, which specializes in prototypes, medium- to long-production print runs of banners, interior décor, and more, employs 80 people at its 65,000square-foot facility.

Kathy Boydstun President, Fusion Imaging, Kaysville, UT Fusion Imaging (fusionimaging.com) is the resulting company from ProGrafix International’s acquisition of Impact Imaging in 2005. Under Kathy’s leadership, Fusion has become proficient in large-format graphic production, as well as project consulting, installation, lighting, and event-marketing graphic applications.

Terry Corman

Principal, New Business Development, LAgraphico, Burbank, CA LAgraphico (lagraphico.com) is a graphic-solutions provider with more than 25 years of experience. Its current capabilities include creative, pre-media, litho offset, grand-format, and display. The company is FSC-certified and employs more than 200.

Michael Garcia President, OAI Inc., Tampa, FL Michael Garcia is the founder of OAI (oaicorp.com), which designs and prints outdoor, vehicle, environmental, and stadium graphics. Named a U.S. Chamber Small Business Blue Ribbon Award Winner, OAI is the largest largeformat imaging company in the Southeast. Michael is a member of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.

Kirk Green

Craig Miller President/CEO, Pictographics, Las Vegas, NV Craig Miller, along with wife Susan and daughter Christy Stevens, run Pictographics (pictographics.net). Now in its 15th year, the company produces graphics for events, trade shows, garments, interior decorating, and architectural installations at its 20,000-square-foot headquarters.

Greg Root President, SuperGraphics, Seattle, WA Seattle-based SuperGraphics (supergraphics.com) designed the world’s first computer-generated bus wrap in 1993. Since then, it’s expanded into every area of large-format graphics, utilizing technologies ranging from grandformat inkjet and screen printing to electrostatic. Greg oversees manufacturing plants in the US and Canada, as well as an international sales force.

Jared Smith President, bluemedia, Tempe, AZ Bluemedia (bluemedia.com) is a leading provider of design and printing for use in vehicle, large-format, and environmental graphic applications for b-to-b and b-to-c organizations. Jared co-founded bluemedia in 2000 after launching several other marketing-related businesses, most notably The Golf Tournament Group (TGTG) in 1998.

CEO, Firehouse, Indianapolis, IN Terry Corman bought Indianapolis-based Firehouse in (fire-house.net) 1989. The company had been founded 19 years earlier as a fullservice commercial color lab, but under his guidance, has expanded its reputation as a major digital “print-for-pay” provider.

President/CEO, Ferrari Color, Salt Lake City, UT Based in Salt Lake City, Ferrari Color (ferraricolor.com) offers high-quality large- and grand-format photo, inkjet, fabric, and UV printing. Overseeing operations of this 130-employee organization, Kirk is past president of the Association of Imaging Executives (AIE).

Scott Crosby

Robert Kissel

Mark Taylor

President, KDM P.O.P. Solutions, Cincinnati, OH KDM P.O.P. Solutions Group (kdmpop.com) is a second-generation, family-owned company that specializes in P-O-P through its offerings of digital, screen, and litho (in short as well as long runs). KDM executes much of its printing for advertising agencies, retail, petroleum companies, and the fast-food industry, and also provides services to print brokers.

COO/Sr. Vice President, GFX Int’l, Grayslake, IL GFX International (gfxi.com) is a marketing-at-retail design and production firm. Offering large- and grand-format digital printing, screen printing, and litho, GFX also provides project-management services, creative and imaging work, finishing, and fulfillment. Mark’s responsibilities include production planning, large-format digital production, screen printing, and fulfillment and logistics operations.

Partner, Holland & Crosby Ltd., Mississauga, ON, Canada Holland & Crosby (holland andcrosby.com) offers P-O-S and promotion solutions to clients from its offices in Ontario, where it’s invested in state-of-the-art digital equipment (including the first Inca Onset in North America).

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Brandon Gabriel

THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011


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inside insideoutput output

A Love/Hate Relationship With Credit Cards By Craig Miller

M

ost small-business owners have a love/hate relationship with credit cards and credit-card companies. While it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t have a story about how a credit card saved the day, it’s also just as likely to come across a horror story about something bad that happened regarding a business or personal credit-card transaction. During the last three years, credit cards have come to play a more significant role in how my own company has done business. Credit-card companies have opened up opportunities. But they’ve also made our lives more difficult.

Why I hate credit-card companies The problem with credit-card companies is that they are banks. One bank, which I won’t mention by name (but rhymes with another word for crappy), has been especially cruel to our small family-owned business during these hard times. These moneychangers, of almost Biblical disrepute, canceled a major credit-card account for which we had never missed a payment. They did this without notice and, cruelest of all, took all the points we had accrued. Another example of why I hate credit-card companies: In the early months of this recession, our business bank (not the same bank as the one just mentioned) cancelled our line of credit and our overdraft protection. I’ve talked to a number of my colleagues and they suffered the same indignity. I’ve always said that the only time a bank will loan you money is when you don’t need it. That’s been my experience and the recession provided small businesses with an even more squeaky-tight credit market. The goodkarma part of this story, however, is that this bank went bankrupt and we didn’t. So while this financial institution CRAIG MILLER is a principal shareholder in Las Vegas-based Pictographics, (pictographics.net) where he is also director of military and law-enforcement projects, the company’s defense-contracting division.

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was being hypercritical about our money situation, it had demonstrated the height of hypocrisy by having done really stupid things with its depositors’ money. Finally, I hate credit-card companies because if you accept credit cards for payment, the bank may make almost as much money on a narrow-margin job as you do. One credit-card company had traditionally been the biggest offender in this area and so, eventually, we threatened to quit accepting its card. After some negotiation, the bank reduced our rate by almost a point and also removed the one-point additional charge when we can’t physically swipe the card. Given we sometimes get charges in the tens of thousands of dollars, this negotiated reduction represented huge savings. But I was dismayed that we had to threaten the bank in order to make this happen.

Now for the love part Credit-card companies were our salvation when credit lines dried up, and they’ve become our line of credit for the past three years. If you don’t accrue late payments or carry large balances for long periods of time, it’s not a bad way to go. Plus, you can keep your interest rates reasonably low through various tactics like balance transfer and threatening to close your account. We will probably continue to heavily rely on credit cards as a line of credit even after the banks’ more-traditional credit departments welcome us back with open arms. The only significant downside to this strategy is that credit agencies take a dim view of multiple credit cards with even occasionally large balances. But what’s the alternative? Factoring? Don’t get me started on factoring (selling my accounts receivable to a third party at a discount in exchange for immediate money) – that’s a road I won’t go down. Cash flow can be a killer. About three years ago, we began requiring deposits on large orders to ease the cash-flow crunch. Our normal terms are 30 days. Labor makes up 20- to 30-percent of our cost and we have to make payroll every two weeks. For a customer to be paid in full within two to three days of a job completion is really nice, and credit cards can facilitate that. >47


business + management

Psst! Need Funding? By Mark E. Battersby

T

he recession ended, at least according to many experts, during the summer of 2009. Just three months after it reportedly ended, however, Timothy F. Geithner, secretary of the US Treasury, made the announcement: “This credit crunch is not over.” But with all available capital apparently going to big business and government, what can the average, financially strapped print provider do? Well, now might be a good time to form a relationship with a small bank in your neighborhood if you haven’t already done so. Get to know the president and loan officers. Ask if they intend to participate in the new financing available to small banks. And, most importantly, find out how they underwrite small business loans and whether your business is a candidate. Fortunately, there are a few bright spots among the clouds, including last fall’s Small Business Jobs Act, which created the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) and funded it with $1.5 billion to strengthen state programs that support lending to small businesses. These funds were designed to spur up to $15 billion in lending, and January 2011 saw the first wave of awards to the states. Under the SSBCI, participating states will use the federal funds for programs to leverage private lending to help finance small businesses such as print providers that are credit-worthy but are not getting the loans they need to expand and create jobs. The SSBCI will allow states to build on successful models for state small-business programs, including collateral support programs, capital access programs (CAP), and

MARK E. BATTERSBY is a freelance writer who has specialized in taxes and finance for the last 25 years. He currently writes for publications in a variety of fields, syndicates two weekly columns that appear in more than 65 publications, and has written four books.

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loan-guarantee programs. Existing and new state programs are eligible for support under the SSBCI.

More funds from Uncle Sam Last year’s Jobs Act included other provisions as well, all designed to help small businesses obtain funding. Among that bill’s many provisions are several new funding programs such as: • A Small Business Lending Fund to provide up to $30 billion in capital to financially sound small banks with less than $10 billion in assets, to encourage them to lend money to small businesses. As an incentive, those banks that increase lending to small business by 10 percent over the previous year will pay as little as one percent on the capital they acquire from the fund. • Any digital printing businesses considering Small Business Administration (SBA) loans stand to benefit from the extension of provisions that amped up SBA lending guarantee programs and fee reductions that recently expired. In addition, the bill increases the maximum loan size for the SBA’s 7(a), 504, and microloan programs. The 7(a) and 504 loan program maximums would bump from $2 million to $5 million, and the microloans would increase from $35,000 to $50,000. Loans made under the SBA Express program would temporarily increase from $300,000 to $1 million. Also included is a temporary allowance for small-business owners to use 504 loans to finance certain mortgages to avoid foreclosure. The SBA’s primary and most flexible 7(a) loan program is designed for both start-up and existing small businesses, and involves government-backed guarantees for amounts loaned for general business purposes. Last spring, the Treasury and the SBA announced a joint initiative to make direct purchases of securities backed by 7(a) loans on the secondary market in the hope of freeing capital and encouraging more small-business financing. The SBA’s CDC/504 loan program provides long-term, fi xed-rate financing to acquire fi xed assets (such as real estate and equipment) for expansion or modernization. It’s ideal for small print shops requiring “brick and >48


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IT’S A

SUPERW I WORLD

Bigger is better, as these eight unique projects prove.

By Paula L. Yoho You don’t have to look much further than the menu at your favorite drive-through window to see that we live in a “bigger is better” world. The same is true in the world of advertising and promotions, with creative companies setting the stakes a little higher with each new wallscape, billboard, mural, and oversized vehicle wrap they contract out. All of which is, of course, good news for wide-format print providers – which stand at-the-ready to deliver quality “supersized” output in short order. To showcase how print providers and their clients are upping the ante when it comes to superwide projects, we tracked down the following eight intriguing projects. Take a look how each shop managed to bring these projects to life – from concept to completion. Please pull up to the fi rst window.

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THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011

High-Flying Hockey Hockey fever was in the air in Raleigh, North Carolina, as the city geared up to host the National Hockey League’s All-Star Game in late January. The NHL pulled out all the stops for the event, peppering inside and outside the Convention Center, its surrounding hotels, and even the airport with larger-than-life depictions of some of its most famous players and teams. With Salt Lake City-based Infinite Scale Design Group spearheading the creative efforts, it wasn’t long before local organizers got caught up in the action.


W IDE

“Infinite Scale did all of the NHL’s city décor, branding, and look and feel for All-Star Weekend, and they did a superb job,” says Scott Dupree, vice president for sports marketing at the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They were a first-class group that was very easy to work with, and when we – the Local Organizing Committee for All-Star Weekend – decided we wanted to do something large and memorable with our remaining funds, we obviously went to Infinite Scale.”

One result of the partnership was a 16 x 20-foot wallscape of Carolina Hurricanes’ team captain Eric Staal mounted above the Convention Center’s Carrabus Street entrance. Though the brainchild of Infinite Scale, the imposing graphic – as well as all the other signage and graphics for the week’s events – would have been impossible without the efforts of the company’s print provider and installation partner, AAA Flag and Banner (aaaflag. com) in Los Angeles. Jay Jacoby at AAA Flag oversaw the monumental project from concept to completion. “The Eric Staal piece was just one piece out of a much bigger scope of work,” says Jacoby. “The whole scope of the project was huge. We did five or six hotels, plus the whole outside and inside of the arena. I would say that we probably did about 70,000 or 80,000 square feet in all, and that includes fabric, the decals, and the mesh. At the arena itself, there was a graphic that was probably five or six times the size of the Eric Staal graphic – approximately 30-feet tall x 100-feet wide.” While it was no small undertaking, Jacoby’s print crew was up to the challenge, having tackled similar projects for the NBA and the Super Bowl, among others. For the Raleigh event, Infinite Scale provided Jacoby with “readyto-go” vector fi les for all elements of the job, including the city-commissioned Eric Staal wall mural. AAA Flag used its EFI Vutek GS3200 flatbed with Colorburst RIP to output onto 3M IJ-3555 Scotchcal changeable graphic fi lm using EFI Vutek inks. “The Staal image measured 16-feet wide x 20-feet tall, and we printed it in panels that have to overlap by a halfinch to an inch when you seam pieces together,” says Jacoby. No laminate was necessary for the project because it was only up for about a week. Jacoby and his eight-person crew from sunny Southern California struggled against the elements in North Carolina in January, but all in all, he says the installation went off without a hitch. “The whole install for all the parts took a little under a week,” he says. “For that particular Eric Staal piece, it took about two good long days. We used a 90-foot crane that allows us to get up there to get the piece affi xed to the outside of the windows.” The most unique thing, he says, about that particular element of the project, is that the entire graphic was cut out. “We didn’t just take a two x two-foot piece of glass and fi ll it with a two x two-foot graphic,” he says. “Some windows had just a little bit of the guy’s shoulder on it or something. We cut out all of the individual pieces at our factory and then, when we put them up, they were tiled together and all the pieces were numbered so that they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. It takes a lot of prep-work in the shop so that we are then organized and efficient onsite.” www.bigpicture.net

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superwide

King-Sized (Donkey) Kong Just in time for the holiday shopping rush, videogame giant Nintendo was looking to make a splash with consumers. It turned to CarWraps, Inc. (carwraps.net) to trick out its 24-foot, space age-shaped Airstream trailer before hitting the road on a nationwide game-demonstration tour. Applying vinyl to a vehicle – even a notoriously difficult-to-wrap Airstream – was nothing new to the team at CarWraps, but getting the artwork and the images to look crisp and compelling at hundreds of times their original size, put their skills to the test. “The division of Nintendo I worked with only had access to certain images, so when I said, ‘Just get me these images in an EPS format that’s scalable that I can just blow up and use,’ they couldn’t deliver,” explains Todd LaBrie, CarWraps president. 26

THE BIG PICTURE april 2011

“The images they gave me were terribly, terribly pixilated, and blurry, so we ended up giving them back to the client and said, ‘You scale them up to these dimensions and give them back to me,’ which is what they did.” Nintendo turned to one of its specialty art directors, who manipulated the files in Photoshop until they met CarWraps’ specs. “They were able to size them and blur them so when they were at their finished size, they weren’t actually pixilated, but they were kind of soft around the edges,” LaBrie says. “There was a lot of back-and-forth and conversation about this.” To be sure all parties were satisfied with the print quality, LaBrie says his team spent two or three weeks churning out several rounds of actualsize proofs on the media that would eventually be used for the installa-

tion. Then, once the client approved the art, the images were output to the shop’s 64-inch Mutoh Toucan LT with Wasatch v6 SoftRIP using Mutoh Eco-Ultra inks, printing onto Avery Supercast vinyl. “Because it was a white trailer, all I had to focus on were the pictures,” adds LaBrie. “I used as many even panels for an image as it took. Let’s say, for instance, that an image took two-and-a-half panels. I didn’t cut it off at two and half panels. I printed it on three, and then the rest of the panel was just white. The rest, I knew, could just be patched in with white, but I just had to get the images in the right place.” The output was laminated using a GBC Arctic Titan laminator and Avery cold laminate, and LaBrie then turned the final output over to his installation partner, Seattle-based Sir Graphic, Inc. (sirgraphics.com). “It took them about four or five days to install because I was feeding it to them piecemeal,” he says. “And, even though we had a lot of lead time on this, in the end it came in really close to the deadline. By the time the client tracked down the appropriately sized images, we ended with just a few weeks before the roll out. But in the end, we did make it.”


Bird’s-Eye View A new display at The Philadelphia International Airport, installed directly on two interior glass enclosures, features the work of the city’s own Sarah Zwerling, whose digital photography re-creates the rooflines and treetops of two famous Philadelphia neighborhoods – Hamilton Street and Fairmount Park. Zwerling’s imagery lines both sides of the concourse, creating a bird’s-eye view of the city’s narrow, residential streets. To bring the photos to life, the airport engaged local print provider Berry and Homer (berryandhomer.com). The images were provided as Photoshop files, and Berry and Homer used that same program to mask out all the areas that didn’t need to be printed. The shop then turned to its reliable EFI Vutek QS2000 for output using Vutek QS Series inks. “The material we printed on was optically clear Wincos by Lintec,” says Joe Thompson III, president of Berry and Homer. “It has an adhesive on it, but it’s a harder PET material.” The clear, polyester window film, he says, features permanent pressure-sensitive adhesive and scratch-resistant coating, and is perfect for a permanent, glass-mounted exhibit such as this, because it’s durable, but completely undetectable to the untrained eye.

“We take this material and, using our Vutek QS, print a layer of the image, then back that layer up with white, but only in certain areas, so we leave other areas clear,” explains Thompson. “Then, on top of that, we print another layer of image, so it’s a three-layer printing process.” The result, he says, is a very lifelike image that can be mounted to the glass without affecting the opacity or leaving visible installation lines. No finishing was required, but Thompson says his team used its Zünd router to cut the panels to fit the windows. It took two installers three days to fit the murals in place, working at times on a two-story lift inside a stairwell to affix the graphics to the inside of the window. “The material we printed on is about 50-inches wide, but several of the windows measure 80-inches wide, so there is a seam in there, but you can’t really tell from looking at it,” says Thompson, adding that, perhaps a bigger challenge was getting all of the installation materials through airport security. “There’s a lot of detail in these pictures, even birds in the trees, so anytime people walk past them, they stop and look at them. And at a certain time of the day when the sunlight hits it just right, it’s just stunning,” he says. www.bigpicture.net

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superwide

Creating a Colossal Can As a major sponsor of the new Salt River Fields Spring Training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona –home to Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, and the first such facility built on Native American land – soda-giant Pepsi wanted to make a place for itself with a lounge-style party deck. The rightfully named Pepsi Patio would be the largest patio in the park. To add to the playful nature of the party deck, Pepsi sports agency Genesco contracted with bluemedia to create a larger-than28

THE BIG PICTURE april 2011

life, to-scale can of Pepsi Max “to maintain their status and reflect Pepsi’s ‘massive’ appeal,” says Eric Rutin, bluemedia’s director of marketing and sales. Pepsi supplied the logo graphics, and left the rest of the can’s design to bluemedia, which used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to produce the wrap design to the proper dimensions. Meanwhile, the structural design for the can itself was created using CorelDraw X5. “Our structural team built the can entirely of aluminum, using their geometry skills to determine accurate dimensions, a high-pressure water jet to cut the pieces, and a tube bender to mold it into the perfect shape,” says Rutin. Then, for the finishing touch, an orbital sander was used for non-directional sanding to the exposed aluminum on the top of the can, which gave the aluminum a clean, raw


“Hot” Wheels

look. “A water jetter was used for the writing on the top of the can. The water jetter uses high-pressure water to cut through material with accuracy.” To print the 24-square-foot graphic, the shop turned to its HP Scitex TJ8300 with HP TJ100 ink, outputting onto 3M Controltac Graphic Film IJ 380– printing in three sections, each 28-inches wide. A 3M 8518G laminate was applied with a GBC Professional laminator. “Making the graphics and structure look like a can was our biggest challenge next to the placement and sizing of the graphics,” says Rutin. The giant, lifelike can took only two hours to create and the Pepsi patio took two-and-a-half days to complete. “The entire patio is clad in Pepsi décor, including textured wall and floor graphics, to mention a few, all of which bluemedia created,” says Rutin.

The folks at Firecareers.com will be burning up the road in a 38-foot, flame-broiled RV as they traverse the country throughout 2011 to promote the profession of fire fighting at colleges, schools, community centers, and firehouses. Their journey, which will culminate this fall at Ground Zero in Manhattan during a special event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, began in the creative studio of Camarillo, California-based Eyedentity Graphics (eyedentitygfx.com). “It was all done in Adobe Creative Suite – Illustrator and Photoshop,” explains designer and Eyedentity Graphics co-owner Ed Mackey. “It’s kind of rare that we actually have to scan something, but we did for this job, because all the client had were original photographs of some of the guys who are pictured on the RV.” Working from original images meant the design process was extremely detailed and time-intensive. “We did a bunch of Photoshop trickery to make it look like everything just worked together seamlessly,” says Mackey. “For the driver’s side, I took two different photographs from a fire in Milwaukee and merged them together in Photoshop so that it made one long photograph. And, on the passenger side, at least three photographs [sourced from the client] are melded together to look like a single image.” Once the images were set, Mackey turned to the shop’s 64-inch Roland VersaArt RS 640 with VersaWorks RIP and Roland Eco Sol Max inks. The images were output onto roughly 1000 square feet of 3M ControlTac IJ180CV3 2-mil pressure-activated film, then finished with 3M 8518 Scotchcal Gloss overlam on the shop’s Royal Sovereign laminator. It took three Eyedentity installers about two-and-a-half days to wrap the vehicle. www.bigpicture.net

29


superwide An Architectural Homage It’s no small honor to be recognized by the Yale University School of Architecture. So when the school set out to pay tribute to its former dean – renowned British architect James Stirling – with a special exhibit of his work, an extraordinary group of professionals came together. The curator was from London, there was a local graphic designer, and the Yale Exhibits department and School of Architecture students were involved. Also in the mix: the graphics’ printer and install team from Service Point (servicepointusa.com) in nearby Woburn, Massachusetts, led by Mike Hughes. “Yale University School of Architecture was our client, and they produced the design work,” explains Hughes.

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THE BIG PICTURE april 2011

“We did typesetting for some of the graphics, but most of the image files were 1200-dpi EPS files, which we were able to work with right away – not too much was necessary in the way of file manipulation. This saved us time because it was a multi-piece project, with pieces suspended from the ceiling, and floor graphics as well.” All told, the exhibit encompassed more than 300 of Stirling’s original architectural drawings, models, and photographs, all rendered and installed by Service Point. With print-ready files in hand, Service Point used its HP Designjet L25500 with Onyx PosterShop v7.0 RIP to print the array of graphics onto various substrates, all using HP latex inks. “Most of it was printed on a poly-adhesive paper, QMLS Quality DuraVinyl 352, which has adhesive already on it, and an awful lot of it was getting mounted to 3A Composites Fome-Cor,” says Hughes. “It was pretty amazing that the material was able to stick to several different substrates, including floor tile. One of the images went across the floor and then up a brick wall and across an archway that you go under, and then wrapped back around to the floor.” For high-traffic areas, the company used Quality DuraVinyl 310 for concrete, and Ritrama Classic Gloss LowTack 3-7837 for the wood floors. “We laminated the floor graphics (both concrete and wood) with Quality Instashield FG using our Seal 6000 laminator,” says Hughes. Several display mounts used throughout the exhibit had to be fabricated and, in the interest of time, Service Point outsourced some of that fabrication to the Yale School of Drama, whose students applied their knowledge of setbuilding to crafting aluminum and metal display stands. “A lot of it we were able to do ourselves, but some of it, for instance the curved pieces, we sent out for fabrication and we just adhered the graphics to them,” says Hughes. The installation went off flawlessly, according to Hughes, who estimates it took about two weeks. “I think the floor graphic probably took the most time – it’s almost like a trail you’re following through the building,” he says. “We had three people there during most of the install.” The job was something of a culmination of all the disparate elements his company has worked on separately in the past, Hughes says. “On the installation piece, it was pretty much everything that we’ve done in the past all combined into one large project. That was the challenging part because usually you’ll have the client come back and say, ‘I want a wall mural,’ or ‘I want a poster,’ or ‘I want a vehicle graphic or floor graphics, or window graphics.’ But not often do they come and say, ‘I want the whole piece.’ That’s what this was, and it was fun to work on.”


www.bigpicture.net

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superwide Spaceship Earth When David Knutson first dreamed up the idea of a portable, inflatable classroom shaped like the Earth, in which children could learn about their world from the inside out – literally – he spent more than 500 painstaking hours hand-painting the artwork for the 22-foot-tall balloons. His company has come a long way from those early days. The balloons themselves have evolved, too. Today, his Earth Balloons (earthballoon.com) are decidedly more high-tech, trading freehand drawing and painting for NASA satellite imagery. And Knutson has outsourced printing of the balloons to Minneapolis-based Banner Creations. But while the production process has come into the 21st century, it hasn’t become much less time-consuming. The team at Banner Creations (bannercreations.com) is no stranger to printing on fabric, or even to creating largerthan-life balloons. In addition to other balloon projects for different clients, they’ve worked with Knutson for several years to perfect the Earth Balloon, and in the process have created more than 60 inflatable globes, ranging in size from 19- to 22-feet tall and up to 69-feet in circumference. It all starts with high-resolution images of planet Earth taken with NASA satellites. Each balloon comprises 24 unique image files, which arrive at Banner Creations manipulated in a “gore” shape – narrow and pointed at the top and bottom and wide in the middle – so they can eventually be stitched together to create a sphere. The level of detail provided by the satellite images makes for a crisp and realistic image of the Earth. “Those

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THE BIG PICTURE april 2011

start off as really big files, about a gigabyte each, and we have to change them all to raster files, which decreases their size to about 25 percent of the original size so we can work with them,” says Banner Creations production manager Bob Mahoney. “Then we go back into each of the files and add [in Photoshop] latitude lines for the Equator, the Tropic of Cancer, and the Tropic of Capricorn.” He builds in a half-inch bleed around every panel for stitching then uses Photoshop to add hash marks “every 12 inches, so that our sewing department can match those up and make sure it’s going to be even.” Once he’s satisfied with the files, Mahoney preps for printing. “We send the files through our Onyx RIP to our Mimaki JV4 dye-sub printer,” he says. “We use a dye-sublimation process, so we print it in reverse on paper and then we take the paper and put it in with the fabric through our rotary heat-transfer press. It’s a long process and, if you did it constantly, for eight hours a day, it would take three days to print the panels for one balloon.” The panels are printed on a polyester trilobal satin with a special coating on one side to hold in the air when the balloon is inflated. “All of our fabrics are polyester to receive dye, and we don’t need a laminate or finishing,” Mahoney says. “Once printed and dry, the panels go to our sewing department.” From here, Banner Creations’ on-site seamstress, Nancy Schmaltz, sees the product through to completion. Using her double-needle SunStar industrial sewing machine, coupled with a fair amount of hand-stitching, Schmaltz first inserts a zipper, which serves as an entry door to the inflatable classroom. She then pieces the panels together one by one using a sturdy, bonded-nylon thread. “For each panel, I end up making a quarter-inch flat felled seam, and I do that by hand,” she explains. “I do one at a time and go completely around the balloon and then, when I get back around to the zipper, that’s when I do the finished seam using the machine.” She builds a floor out of vinyl, affixing Velcro around the outer edges so that it can be attached inside the finished balloon, then heat-cuts three circular vents on the top and attaches a hand-sewn blower hose that can be fastened to a standard 65-inch-diameter circular house fan. “After I get the side seams all done and finished, then I have to put on the polar cap, which is a circle about 18 inches in diameter,” Schmaltz says. “I top-stitch that on so it lays flat.” The level of accuracy required for each job – from prepress and printing to sewing – is intense and requires great attention to detail by all departments. “Everything has to be exactly correct,” says Mahoney. “You have to be really careful that the sizes are right. You have to be sure the settings of your RIP are correct, if something is off just a little bit, it’ll wreck the whole project.”


keyword

Doing the Big D As host city to Super Bowl XLV this past February, community leaders in Dallas encouraged local businesses – including Dallas-based communications behemoth AT&T – to show their support of the epic sporting event through signage and outdoor advertising displays. Via its advertising agency, BBDO Atlanta (bbdoatl.com), AT&T contracted with Metro Media Technologies (MMT, mmt.com) to create five larger-than-life building wraps welcoming football fans to their hometown. The graphics, which ran the gamut size-wise, were displayed on various buildings around the city and near Cowboy Stadium. BBDO provided MMT with print-ready, InDesign art files, which were output via Caldera RIP software to the company’s proprietary, drum-technology printer. “We have paint-to-paint drums in our plant in Ohio, the largest being 63 feet in circumference x 32 feet in width,” explains MMT senior vice president Bill Ishida. “We use a proprietary paint along with our own paint jets to produce the work. There is no drying time and it’s cured as it’s printed, so any sort of finishing process can take place immediately post-print.” Because each of the five buildings being wrapped was architecturally distinct and their surfaces made of different materials, the company opted for two different types of media, using, in total, approximately 28,285 square feet. “Two of the buildings were textured brick, one was a type of stone called travertine, another was a combination of both glass and cast concrete, and there was another

building that was just a glass structure, so we used two different materials,” says account director Bobby Thompson, who oversaw the project. “For four of the buildings, we used a 3M 3662-10 self-adhesive vinyl, and the material we used on the glass building was ClearFocus ImageVue, a perforated self-adhesive PVC.” Print time for the largest of the buildings, which measured 15,000 square feet, was three days. The remaining four wraps were printed simultaneously, and took three days in total. “Once the printing was completed, we used one overlaminate for both materials – 3M 8509,” Thompson says. “We utilized heat sealers during the lamination process, and everything was hand-trimmed.” MMT sent five crews to Dallas for the installation – one team per building – each battling unseasonably cold weather, snow, and freezing rain, in the days leading up to the big game. Four of the installs occurred simultaneously over the course of about three days and the fifth and largest – the 15,000 square-foot glass building – was also the most complex, and took about five days to set up. “It was not rigged for a swing stage, which we use for installation,” Thompson explains. “This building had a 12foot parapet wall, so we had to build an artificial platform to extend davit arms over the wall to attach to the suspended swing stage. With the size of the width of that building being 190 feet, we ended up doing five stage moves to complete the install.” www.bigpicture.net

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BRINGING

2D TO LIFE

QR codes add interactive elements to wide-format graphics. By Jason Pinto

When we look around at the worlds of marketing and communications, I’m sure we all agree: Things are changing fast, and the immediacy of the message is no longer just an option – it’s a requirement. People want their information, and they want it now. Your clients are no different – they, too, are busily evaluating all channels of communication in an effort to reach their own most important audience: their customers. Yes, they’re looking at traditional media such as wide-format print applications, but they’re also considering other channels as well, including social media and mobile marketing, both of which are capable of responding to the consumers’ call for speed. For print providers, then, a technology that would integrate these new marketing channels with traditional media would be ideal. Lucky for us, that technology is indeed available – in the form of Quick Response (QR) codes, 34

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which can deliver your customer’s message, push customers to your client’s website, and enable your clients to track results, all with just the snap of a smart-phone camera.

Getting started: QR codes 101 For those unfamiliar with the technology, QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that have been around since 1994 – widely used throughout Japan and in parts of Europe to direct customers to company websites using a smart phone. And with the increased adaption of smart mobile phones, QR codes are quickly rising in popularity in the United States. Accessing the information that QR codes hold is simple. Some phones come with QR code readers pre-installed. Others require you to download them. Most QR readers are free; popular options include Blackberry Reader, Neo Reader, QuickMark, IMatrix, and many more.


Once your mobile device contains a QR code reader, you simply point your phone to the code, snap a picture, and the software on your phone decodes the image. Instantly, you are directed to a website or landing page with information about the product or company of interest. A QR code may also take you to a video or a social-media page that promotes a company, which opens the door to two-way communication. In short, QR codes make it easy for consumers to quickly jump from a printed graphic to the Web with the help of their mobile devices. Providing consumers with the ability to respond at the very moment you pique their interest has tremendous value. For example: A man sitting on a bus snaps a picture of a QR code on a billboard as he passes by. He’s taken to a website where he accesses a coupon that he can use at a store by simply showing the cashier his cell-phone display. By making cell phones the response mechanism, you remove many of the barriers to action response.

which you can share with your customers. Additionally, if your customer is going to take the leap and integrate QR codes into their printed materials, they will definitely want to be able to measure the results, allowing them to better determine customer behavior. • Monitoring scans of the code: Various software programs have the ability to record the amount of scans per day, what time those scans took place, the location of the scans, and the types of devices being used to scan the code. For example: a healthcare-provider billboard geared toward members with allergies, promoting a new over-the-counter drug. The graphics feature a QR code that directs the recipient to a website with additional information. Using these software programs, the healthcare provider can gauge interest in the new drug and monitor how many people scanned the code each day, as well as which geographic regions they reside.

QR convenience One of the most important benefits QR codes offers is the ability to tie together print, mobile, and Web in an effort to increase the response rate and reach individuals through their preferred channel – their smart phone – a media that they happen to be carrying with them the majority of the time. QR codes can easily boost the effectiveness of print for multiple reasons, including: • Providing one-to-one communication: URLs can be embedded right into QR codes, so when the recipient scans the code he is taken directly to a landing page. Once the recipient is at the page, the QR code owner has the opportunity to engage him in a one-on-one-dialogue. Also, because sharing your link via social-media sites is so easy for the customer, the chances of your site/video going viral rise dramatically. The share-ability offered by QR codes brings a whole new meaning to word-of-mouth marketing. • Making it easy to respond: QR codes make landing pages portable. They allow the recipient to access each individual website without needing to be sitting in front of a computer. Because people are on the go, and many carry their phones with them at all times, this portability is ideal in increasing the response rate. Additionally, QR codes eliminate the need for the recipient to type a lengthy URL into their Web browser. By pressing one button, the recipient is automatically directed to the website, eliminating the chance of typos and decreasing the effort required by the recipient to access the information. • Measuring the success: As with anything business related, it’s the result and success that’s most important. Being able to measure the success of any marketing initiative is crucial. Not only will it be helpful to you in determining which of your customers are interested in the technology, but it provides quantitative data showcasing your success,

Measurement and Tracking By offering your clients ways to track the success of a building wrap or movie poster, you can keep them coming back and help justify the expenses of initiating marketing initiatives involving wide-format graphics. Maximizing success with QR codes is made simple by the multitude of inexpensive online software options available that allow you to create QR codes and view the success of your efforts through real-time reports. Among the result/data that can be obtained from QR software is: • Number of scans: Find out how many people have scanned your QR codes. • Activity by the day and hour-by-hour: Curious when people are reading your marketing collateral or checking out your outdoor graphics? QR software programs generate charts helping you track when people are scanning your QR codes. • Devices being used: Because all phones read Web material differently, it is important to know what phone models are being used so you can optimize the viewing experience. • Locations of people scanning your codes: Track which billboards are generating the most leads and greatest return on investment (ROI). • ROI: Creating marketing campaigns requires an investment of time and money, and QR software monitors how much it costs to deliver leads through these campaigns.

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QR codes For its open house, PIP Printing (pipic.com) in Iowa City, Iowa, added a QR code scanning station to its showcase of products and services. “When participants scanned the QR code, they were directed to a Web page that randomly loaded a picture of a rock star,” says PIP Printing’s Adam Delaney. “We had stickers corresponding to each rock star and gave these to participants as they scanned the code. The concept worked very well by introducing the technology in a fun and interesting way. As people wandered throughout the open house, you would hear, ‘Which rock star are you?’” • Gathering customer information in real-time: It’s also possible to take QR codes one step further and use them to capture contact information on each customer. With the right software, it’s possible to direct the users to a landing page that will request their contact information before they’re allowed to proceed. Your customer will garner valuable knowledge previously unattainable at that point of engagement, allowing them to update mailing lists.

Successfully implementing Once you make the decision to integrate QR codes into your mix of services, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. First of all, keep it simple. Although QR codes can store quite a bit of information – up to 7089 numbers, 4296 letter and numbers, or 2953 bytes (binary characters) – it’s best to keep it short and simple. The longer the information, whether it be a URL or a short marketing pitch, the more complex the code, the harder it is for a smart phone to read. Shorten your URL for free at sites like tinyurl.com. A simple, clean QR code ensures customers will be able to snap a shot quickly and obtain an accurate read. Second, clearly understand barcode differentiation. Understanding the various size and deterioration limitations for the QR code graphic is critical to effectively using this technology. QR codes may still be readable with up to 30-percent deterioration. This allows you to take a few liberties when it comes to the design, such as placing your logo in the middle or adding a “wrapper” around the code that fits with the overall creative theme of your printed

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Goin’ Mobile You may be asking, “Are that many people even using smart phones?” The answer is yes. More than 63 million Americans own smart phones — 19 million of who access the Internet on a weekly basis, according to AOL. And a recent study from IPG’s Universal McMann and AOL found that almost 15 percent of all media consumption now occurs via mobile devices. That same report indicates that mobile usage is expected to grow by 60 percent over the next two years.

material. There is software on the market that makes it extremely easy to generate QR codes independently or as an integrated part of the company’s end-to-end personalized marketing solutions. Branded QR codes increase scan rates 25 to 30 percent, according to The Ace Group, the New York City-based print and electronic-marketing solutions provider (now part of DG3 North America). Third, know how to educate without cluttering: Not every consumer is familiar with QR codes. So, it may be necessary for a campaign to educate the consumer directly on the printed material – but be careful not to clutter and take away from the printed piece’s main message. To do this, you will want to provide specific instructions that make it clear that people can take a picture of the code with their phone to access additional information. You may even want to provide a website URL that allows them to download a QR code reader. The best way to begin transitioning QR codes into your service offering and effectively market this new capability to your customers, by the way, is to first integrate the technology into your shop’s own promotional graphics. For example, Sir Speedy of Tampa printed its own direct-mail promotion complete with the recipient’s customized QR code to engage interest. When the customers received the mailer, they were encouraged to scan the code and upon doing so were promptly taken to the Sir Speedy website.

Because QR codes remain readable with up to 30percent deterioration, you can add a logo in the middle of the code, change the color of the design, or add a wrap that spills onto the code without typically affecting a reader’s ability to scan. Branded QR codes add an element of interest while increasing scan rates. Showing customers the numerous ways QR codes have been incorporated into your own graphics projects will spark ideas on how they can use QR codes in their initiatives.

Should QR codes be in your future? QR codes are one of the hottest applications in the marketing world today and for good reason – the concept of building digital elements into mail and printed graphics is a win-win. The codes are easy to create, print, and track, and cost little or nothing to add to your graphic applications. As customers continue to seek communications through multiple channels, print shops that recognize the growth of QR codes and act upon it are better positioning themselves to provide the information their customers want, when they want it. QR codes are an immediateresponse mechanism that catches consumers at the very moment of interest: walking, reading, playing, shopping, traveling. They take advantage of every opportunity in a big way. If QR codes aren’t on your marketing “to-do” list, they should be. Jason Pinto is chief marketing officer of interlinkOne (interlinkone.com), a Wilmington, Massachusetts-based provider of integrated marketing solutions, including software for marketing, sales, Web-to-print, and more.

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FINDING A BUSINESS-SOFTWARE SOLUTION More than 40 solutions for the management side of your shop. Behind every great graphic is a skilled print shop, and behind every skilled print shop is an array of productivity-enhancing tools. In addition to the often flashy wide-format printers and other state-of-the-art hardware exists the slightly less-glamorous (but equally as essential) side of a shop’s toolbox: business and management software that helps bring jobs in and get them out. Business-and-management software offers myriad capabilities–commonly including monitoring inventory to ensure there’s no delay from the time the order is taken; pricing and estimating jobs to earn the highest profit margin; producing production and employee schedules to be at your most 38

THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011

efficient; automating the shipping and fulfi llment of jobs to help ensure customers become repeat business; and much more. All in all, using business-and-management software can help turn an ordinary business into a well-oiled, productivity machine. The list that follows is our annual look at business-management software. Keep in mind that we’ve strived to include only tools that are primarily geared toward print providers (not generic business software); we are not including software that’s primarily focused upon proofi ng, PDF, asset management, or variable data (although some of the tools in this list do offer some of these capabilities). And note that we’ve also included

information on a trio of print-management tools—software that is not a RIP but does address production or workflow efficiencies. Activity Software activitysoftware.com Activity Advantage version 8.6, created specifically for the signage and graphics industries, allows users to create estimates and work orders; manage inventory, vendors, and ordering information; track jobs; generate accounting and production reports; market to customers; export to Quickbooks; and track customer contacts and notes. Additions to the latest version include job-profit reports, automatic inventory updates, surcharge capability, and abil-


ity to use Art Approval and Estimates online. Its E-Advantage meshes the Activity database with online business capabilities, allowing customers to approve fi les online and view orders, order status, estimates, and payment history; its Shop Floor component allows users to track jobs through production, create time and productivity reports, and schedule jobs. Avanti Computer Systems avantisystems.com Avanti’s Graphic Arts Management System comprises various standard modules including estimating (with a “demand estimating” option for on-demand and specialty print shops); order entry; job costing and tracking; scheduling; inventory control; barcoding; shipping; fulfillment; shop-floor data collection; purchasing, invoicing, point-of-sale, and accounting integration; and JDF integration with plugand-play or custom-integration options. The system is designed for digital wide-format shops as well as commercial and in-plant print facilities. Bard Business Solutions bardsolutions.com Enterprise Manager, designed for large-format printers, ad agencies, and design firms, is a fully integrated database management system with modules including: contact management, rates/products, equipment, employees, estimates, dockets, production scheduling, costing, time sheets, shipping, image storage, purchase orders, and invoices. The company also offers Digital Print Manager (for digital printers), Graphics Manager (for trade printers), and other products. Cibercat cibercat.com CiberQuote 2.0 is a quotation system for sign making. It allows for quick generation of quotes; materials specification; billable works/time specs (design, printing, cutting, assembly, etc.); payment methods indication; customizable print-quote formatting;

and more. A database manager is included; advanced retrieval of past quotes is possible. Compose Systems composeusa.com Express PrintShop for digital print operations connects multiple printers in a mini-cluster; it also supports load balancing, advanced job queues, bi-directional communication to the printing device, and optional variabledata printing. CRC Information Systems crcinfosys.com CRC’s Nucleus strikes a balance between estimating, production, inventory, accounting, e-commerce solutions, and customer-relationship management. The newest version of Nucleus has a streamlined menu interface as well as new dashboard widgets. Its Web-based, e-commerce software allows users to provide clients with 24/7 customer service. A browser-based, customer-relations management (CRM) module gives users a 360-degree view of customer interactions, sales opportunities, and buying patterns. The scheduling module provides advanced Gantt charting, enhanced drag-and-drop scheduling manipulation, color “alerts,” and more. Cut-Estimator cutestimator.com Cut-Estimator Pro software allows print providers to predict the cost of cutting/routing projects. The software utilizes material-specific database values to define cutting/routing methods, speeds, and tooling requirements specifically for the cutter/router used. Specific project data is entered, and the software converts the information and gives a precise cost, sales price, and number of work hours needed for that project; it also can give up to six alternative estimates based on different quantities. In addition, it provides production planning sheets and order sheets for printout when the estimated projects are ordered.

Cyrious Software cyrious.net Cyrious Control offers Windowsbased, customizable business-management systems designed for the sign, graphics, and printing industries. The software includes tools for quoting, order entry, tracking, scheduling, shipping, accounting, credit-card processing, target marketing, sales management, and more. Also included is the Billboard Lease module, to automate the process of scheduling and billing of billboard leases; in addition, a Textiles Printing and Work Order tool for direct-to-garment and screen printers. Datacom datasignonline.com DataSign is a Web-based solution designed for the sign industry. Modules include customer relationship management, estimating and proposals, sales, service, engineering, shop-floor control, data collection, cost tracking, and accounting. Other features include built-in best practices, templatelike estimating, training and support, and industry-oriented reporting. Datatech SmartSoft smartsoftusa.com PressWise is a browser-based printworkflow system with end-to-end integration offering features including unlimited Web-to-print storefronts, estimating and quoting tools, order management, production management and automation shipping and fulfi llment, and mail processing (optional). Available cloud- or self-hosted. The Web2Ship Storefront is also available as a standalone solution. DiMS! dims.net DiMS! business-management software streamlines and automates a range of administrative and printing processes. The Web-enabled software features end-to-end integration (including estimating, scheduling, purchasing, production, inventory, www.bigpicture.net

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business software shipping, and accounting processes), one-time input of data, multi-currency and multi-language capabilities, product-focused business templates, realtime data collection, an Estimating Wizard (integrates job ticketing and cost accounting), and JDF compliance. DynamicsPrint dynamicsprint.com The DynamicsPrint solution handles various aspects of a print job, from estimation to scheduling, shop floor to fulfillment, and is JDF/JMF certified. Modules include advanced estimating, sales order, generation, automated scheduling and planning, shop floor control and data collection,

workflow management, financial management, supply-chain management, customer-relations management, and e-business. An Internet portal is included to allow for online trade and file exchange. DynamicsPrint utilizes the Microsoft interface, providing a look and feel similar to MS Office and Outlook. EFI efi.com EFI Pace provides end-to-end, integrated management for mid- to large-sized printing businesses with any combination of digital, wide format, and litho operations. Browser-based and JDF certified, Pace includes: estimating,

production management, inventory, purchasing, data-collection, integrated accounting, shipment, variable data, and e-commerce solution modules. PrintSmith is a print-shop management solution designed for small commercial print shops as well as companies with on-demand and digital environments. Users can create pricing systems, stock-order reports, estimates, invoices, quote letters, and account statements. It also includes estimating, pricing, Web-to-print, order management, scheduling, shop floor data collection, inventory, point-of-sale, and invoicing and reporting tools. The PrintSmith Site eCommerce optional package includes

Print-Management Tools Three tools of note are not traditional front-end business-and-management tools, but they can help you make your shop more efficient and, hence, profitable: EskoArtwork’s (esko.com) i-cut Suite is a collection of pre-production software for users of large-format digital printers and/or digital finishing systems. The various i-cut Suite modules include: i-cut Preflight, which preflights incoming PDF data (corrections to the PDF file can be made without accessing the native design application); i-cut Layout, which builds and edits sheet layouts (for minimum waste, different jobs are grouped on one sheet for optimal material use); and i-cut Vision Pro, which ensures that die-less cutting contours match the printed images. Users can upgrade to advanced modules, including structural design, graphics preparation, and true-shape nesting. The Inca Print Run Controller (PRC) software module from Inca Digital (incadigital.com), designed to run on a variety of Inca machines, lets users automate the scheduling and

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THE BIG PICTURE april 2011

collation of versioned jobs in addition to reducing operator error and post-print collation requirements. PRC can assist in the production of orders incorporating different sizes, text variations, or languages. It can also be used when a large number of images need to be output in varying quantities with variable elements to a large number of recipients. The software can cut job changeover times with its ability to RIP once/output once or RIP once/output several times. Job scheduling can be managed in the studio before entering the shop. It’s fully compliant with PPML 2.10. Onyx (onyxgfx.com), referenced in the main text, also offers PrepEdge Pro and PrepEdge. PrepEdge Pro v2.1 addresses job-preparation issues prior to print processing and includes features specific to large-format prep such as: one-click grommet placement; size, crop, and positioning tools; PDF editing tools; bleed and fold tools; complex tiling and template tools; fast contour-cut path generation; and a raster image-to-vector tool. The software also has built-in color-correc-

tion and management tools as well as a professional PDF editor. PrepEdge is an entry-level, job-preparation tool developed specifically for shops without access—or with limited access—to a professional designer to prepare print jobs. In addition, various RIPs also offer features that address production- and workflow-efficiencies, and even some front-end business modules. Here’s a quick list of RIP companies that do not also appear in the main text (you can also check out bigpicture.net for a list of 40 third-party RIPs with detailed specs in our current Printer Sourcebook; search under “directories” in the main nav bar): • CadLink: cadlink.com • Caldera: calderagraphics.com • ColorBurst: colorburst.com • ColorGate: colorgate.com • DigiFab: digifab.com • Eisfeld Datenechnik: posterjet.com • Four Pees: proofmaster.net • Fusion: fusionsystems.com • SCP Software: scp.de • Valloy: topazrip.com


PrinterSite Exchange, PrinterSite Fulfillment, and PrinterSite Internal. EFI Monarch is a Print MIS and planning solution offering capabilities for the efficient management of projects ranging from basic to complex. As this issue was readied for press, EFI acquired Streamline Development, the maker of PrintStream (printstream.com). PrintStream is a customizable business-management solution for the graphics, direct mail, and fulfillment industries. Its various modules include estimating, fulfillment, inventory, scheduling, purchasing, job costing, shop-floor data capture, production tracking, customer support, postage accounting, and job-creation. EFI reports that PrintStream will continue to be supported but will no longer be offered to new customers. Enterprise Print Management Solutions entpms.com Enterprise 32 is a PC-based, scalable, print-management system. Modules include data collection, invoicing, purchasing, financials, inventory control, job costing, scheduling, finished goods inventory, and estimating/order entry; users can also create custom reports. An Accounting Suite of modules (receivables, payables, a general ledger, and a cash manager) is available. Enterprise.net is the company’s Web-based suite that manages both internal and external e-commerce activities, allows customers to request quotes, place orders, track orders, view status of finished-goods inventory, and proof images of an order in PDF format. The system can connect with many third-party applications. EstiMate estimatesoftware.com Specifically geared around signage estimating and pricing, EstiMate is a pricing and management system with features including instant quotes; watermarked images that cannot be scanned, an hourly rate estimator to

ensure profits; open-estimate manager; job conversion reports, which shows the percentage of estimates converted to jobs; job tracking; automatic customer deposits using Quickbooks; invoicing; inventory management, and more. Estimator Corporation estimatorcorp.com Estimator is a print-estimating and management software designed for wide-format operations as well as other digital and commercial presses. Standard reports include: estimate, job ticket, internal detailed costs and profit, paper and services POs, workflow production scheduling job locator, and invoice and shipping labels. Also available are: Networking Custom Report Writer, ODBC (to connect to other existing management tools), Data Mining with detailed queries, and Web applications for remote access and job estimates. Franklin Estimating Systems franklinestimating.com Print- and signage-specific, the Franklin System is an SQL database with several facets that can be used on their own or integrated with other modules. DataManager offers real-time tracking of job time, cost, material, and labor, as well as employee and sales tracking and management and stock summary reports. Estimator generates detailed estimates, custom job tickets, invoices, and corresponding reports. Accounting adds accounts receivable and payable, sales and purchase orders, inventory, and payroll functions. Also available: JobFlow, Web2Print, QuickBooks module, and more. HindSight hindsightltd.com InView, designed for professional photographers, centers around a contact manager featuring in-depth searching capabilities, Internet links, and multiple viewing modes. The software can also create, print, and store invoices, estimates, and job and budget reports.

In addition, InView features accounting, licensing, scheduling, and correspondence functions. The software can share and synchronize files across a private network or the Internet. iSystems tqt.com TQT software is designed to be unique to each client’s individual business model. Created for custom-manufacturing companies using standard PCs, including those in signage and graphics arts, the software allows users to build a database of sales leads and customers, create job quotes, production schedules, invoices, and accounting reports; generate and track job tickets; and customize automatic alerts. Other business-management functions include human resources, e-commerce, and inventory. MetaCommunications meta-comm.com Meta Communications’ Workgroups 2010 R2 is a collaborative process and productivity-management software suite for marketing, creative design, packaging, and prepress workgroups. It comprises four main modules: Virtual Ticket (for project and workflow management), Approval Manager (for document review and approval), Digital Storage Manager (for storage management), and Job Manager (for financial productivity management). Also included is a Document Organizer, an optional browser-based proofing tool, and Spark!, a browser-based tool to facilitate collaboration between content creators and clients. This latest version includes the Advanced Workflow & Scheduling (AWS) Solution Library, which includes tools for trafficking or scheduling staff to manage jobs interactively, built-in to-do lists, Gantt charts, production schedules, and resource-allocation reports. Onyx onyxgfx.com PrintMetryx JobView is a tool for tracking printing costs. Each >49 www.bigpicture.net

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Two New imageProGraf Printers from Canon Canon USA has introduced two new printers: the 44in. imageProGraf iPF8300S and 24-in. imageProGraf iPF6300S. Aimed at the graphics arts, photo, and production markets, both of the 8-color printers (CMYK + photo cyan, photo magenta, matte black, and gray) feature: Canon’s Lucia EX pigment inkset, for greater shadow details; deeper black density, and overall scratch resistance (330-ml standard/700-ml optional on the iPF8300S, 130-ml on the iPF6300S); high-density PF05 printheads, featuring 2560 nozzles and FINE technology; and a built-in color-calibration function, which is designed to compensate for color variations caused by factors such as age and environmental affects, enabling consistent color across multiple printers, or when producing multiple copies. The new printers feature various print modes, including Fast and Economy modes. The iPF8300S can

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produce a B0-sized (39.37 x 55.67-in.) print in approximately 80 seconds, Canon reports, while the iPF6300S can deliver an A1-sized (23.39 x 33.11-in.) print in approximately 35 seconds. Both models have a hard-drive capacity of 160 GB. Top resolution is 2400 x 1200 dpi. Plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, Canon Digital Photo Professional (allowing for direct printing of high-quality raw images), and Microsoft Office are included, as are Canon’s Accounting Manager and PosterArtist Lite software (PosterArtist standard is optional). The company reports that RIPs from a variety of developers are supported, including CGS, EFI, GMG, Onyx, SAi, and Wasatch. MSRP: $2995 for the iPF6300S; $4995 for the iPF8300S. Both models are expected to begin shipping in April. CANON USA usa.canon.com


Nik Software Releases Silver Efex Pro 2 Nik Software has announced a major upgrade to its Silver Efex Pro software, for creating high-quality black-and-white images from scanned or digital photographs. Silver Efex Pro 2 boasts an array of new features including: • A History Browser, which facilitates intuitive comparison of previous edits and different looks; • Dynamic Brightness, to enable adaptive brightening adjustments for different areas in the image; • Amplify Blacks and Amplify Whites, to increase the presence of highlights and shadows adaptively throughout the image; • Visual Presets categorized by photographic style; • Soft Contrast, which applies contrast intelligently, based on image details; • Fine Structure, to bring out small details and textures; • Image Borders, to use organic image elements to create unique and random borders; • Selective colorization, for easily adding color elements back into images; and • GPU Processing, to take advantage of the processors found on advanced display adapters. Silver Efex Pro 2 installs as a plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom 2, and Apple Aperture. Price: $199.95; an upgrade from the first version costs $99.95.

3M Debuts Scotchcal Overlam 8528 3M Graphics has introduced Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8528, designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions, including UV rays and acid dew – the latter the result of pollutants mixing with dewdrops and becoming increasingly acidic with sunlight, becoming common in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities, reports 3M. The 2-mil cast vinyl is intended for use with solvent, latex, and UV inks. 3M is offering a warranty for both horizontal and vertical surfaces. Available in 54-in.-wide rolls (25 and 50 yards); sample rolls are available. 3M 3mgraphics.com

Mutoh Launches MP Inks

NIK SOFTWARE

Mutoh has debuted its eco-friendly MP (“multipurpose”) inks, for use in its ValueJet 1608HSHybrid printer. The fast-drying inks comprise 60% bio-based material and contain no hazardous VOCs or heavy metals, the company reports; they’re designed to output onto vinyl, banner, and a wide range of plastics. Available in four colors (CMYK) and in 950-ml packs.

niksoftware.com

MUTOH mutoh.com

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r+d

LexJet Enhances, Simplifies PSA Laminate Line LexJet has enhanced and simplified its line of PSA laminates and backers, arranging them into three basic product categories: Elite, Performance, and Specialty. • Elite: features high performance and quality, a durable solvent acrylic adhesive, and PreLume, an optical reflection technology designed to produce brighter and cleaner white areas and greater contrast and dynamic range; most products in the Elite line come with a lifetime warranty. • Performance: an economically priced line of laminates and backers; most products in this category feature the same adhesives and base materials as the Elite line. • Specialty: this product line features warranted, durable laminates “that meet all the demands of specialty applications, including floor, carpet, vehicle wrap, optically clear, and dry-erase,” LexJet reports. The adhesives in all three product lines are compatible with aqueous, low solvent, solvent, UV curable, and latex inks, says the company. LEXJET lexjet.com

Roland Debuts Backlit Films Roland DGA has introduced two new media for its VersaCamm, VersaArt, and SolJet Pro III printers and printer/cutters: Glossy Backlit Film (ESM-GBF) and Matte Backlit Film (ESM-MBF). Both are premium 8-mil translucent polyester, fast-drying fi lms featuring a Dmax rating of 2.2, and are designed to produce vivid, high-density backlit images. Available throughout North and South America (except Brazil) in 100-ft roll lengths and 54- or 60-in. widths. ROLAND DGA rolanddga.com


Three New Media From Neschen Neschen has added SolvoPrint Nolite 165, Nolite 360, and PP Banner 210 to its line of digital inkjet-printable media. All of the media feature a scratch-resistant inkjet coating, a matte finish, and are suited for P-O-P displays, retail signage, and tradeshow graphics. SolvoPrint Nolite 165 is designed for solvent, eco-solvent, and UV-curable inks. The 6.5-mil media features a backing that provides 100% opacity and lay-flat capability to eliminate edge curl. Suitable for indoor and short-term outdoor use, Nolite 165 is available in 36-in. widths. Nolite 360 is 13.8-mil thick. It, too, is designed for solvent, eco-solvent and UV-curable inks, boasts 100% opacity, and is suitable for indoor and short-term outdoor use. Featuring a stiff construction with non-curling edges, it’s available in 36- and 60-in. widths. PP Banner 210 can be used with solvent and eco-solvent inks, and is for indoor use only. Featuring lay-flat capability, it has a thickness of 8.3 mil and its backing is not completely light-blocking. Available in 36- and 60-in. widths. NESCHEN neschenbrands.com

Fisher Textiles’ GF 2328 Satin Fabric Fisher Textiles has added GF 2328 Satin (FR) to its line of Grand Format fabrics for dye-sublimation, UV, and latex printing. GF 2328 Satin is a high sheen satin fabric that is lightweight (3.8-oz) and 100% polyester. GF 2328 Satin is flame retardant and passes the NFPA 701 test, the company reports. Applications include banners, roll-up banner stands, tradeshow exhibits, and more. Available in 79- and 120-in. widths. FISHER TEXTILES fishertextiles.com


QUICK SHOTS

MacTac certifies additional media with HP Latex inks: MacTac has received certification for several products within its Imagin line of wide-format digital media on the HP Designjet L25500 and L65500 with HP Latex inks. Newly certified products include Imagin B-free JT5529BFD and Imagin B-free JT5798MBF; StreetRap STR328 vinyl; wallnoodle WN628 repositionable vinyl; and RoughRap WW100 wall wrapping film. mactac.com

Falconboard Build FR gets California certification:

akes & Tour t s p e S we

Pregis Hexacomb has received certification from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for the fire-retardant (FR) version of its Falconboard Build display board. Falconboard Build FR had previously passed the National Fire Protection Agency’s 701 flame propagation test, as well as the ASTM-E84 surface burning protocol. Additionally, the FR grade has met the fibersourcing certification standards set by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. pregis.com

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that most of its prepress and pressroom instruments and software are now manufactured to the new XRGA standard. These products now ship as XRGA-compliant: the 500 Series, 939, SpectroEye, IntelliTrax, X-RiteColor Master v8.3, InkFormulation 6, ColorQuality 6, Color iMatch / Color iQC v7.1, and ColorPort v2.0.1; they join XRGAnative solutions including the Pantone Plus Series digital library, ColorMunki Design, ColorMunki Photo, and EasyTrax. xrite.com

ProofHQ adds video proofing: ProofHQ now has the ability to proof audio-visual (AV) files in addition to Web and print files (up to 1 GB). proofhq.com


inside output <20 There’s also been silver lining to switching from banks to credit cards for a credit line. Sue, my wife and business partner, pays almost all our bills with credit cards. She’ll only use cards that have a generous rewards program, and since we buy a lot of materials, we get lots of reward points. Our airfare to the recent Signage and Graphics Summit, for instance, resulted in points. The awesome Canon DSLR and lenses for the company: points. The new iMac for the customer-service department: points. You get the idea. The most worthwhile benefit to the card points, however, has been to our employees. During the boom times, we gave an annual bonus at Christmas; we would also give individuals bonuses throughout the year for exceptional performance or innovation. When the recession hit, though, all bonuses and incentives ended. Then, credit-card-rewards points came to the rescue. Throughout the year, Sue redeems points for the rewards in the form of gift cards, which employees like almost as much as cash. Thanks to credit-card companies, we have been able to restore our reward and annual cash-bonuses program to the levels of our most profitable years. The best news is it doesn’t cost us a dime.

PayPal, NFC, and the future Two other related topics worth noting are PayPal and NFC technology. Our business accepts payment and buys things with PayPal – in fact, it’s surprising how often we pay with PayPal. Because we don’t get points with PayPal, we’re not motivated to find more vendors that accept it. However, because PayPal payments could help with cash flow and the transaction fees are smaller, we’d like to expand its use. Another trend has been the development of a mobile payment system called NFC (near-field communication). In the future, your customer’s smart phone will be used as a credit card – basically, just hovering it about four inches above your NFC receiver (another NFC-equipped phone) will initiate the transaction. The customer gets a paperless receipt transmitted by Bluetooth from the driver’s phone. I look forward to having our delivery driver “touch phones” with a customer and we’re then paid in full before she gets back in the truck. So, the credit card may go the way of the personal checkbook, Smartphones may ultimately replace the physical credit card, and more and more of our transactions may take the form of PayPal. But, however we have to pay for stuff, I just hope they never drop the points.

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business + management <22 mortar” financing. Rather than commercial lending institutions, 504 loans are delivered via CDCs (certified development companies) – private, non-profit corporations set up to contribute to the economic development of their communities. The SBA also has a unique program to provide small (up to $30,000), short-term “microloans” for working capital for the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fi xtures, machinery, and/or equipment. Ideal for those needing small-scale financing and technical assistance, the SBA microloan is delivered through specially designated intermediary lenders (non-profit organizations with experience in lending and technical assistance).

Accessing state capital programs The new $1.5 billion SSBCI encourages financial institutions to lend to small businesses that might not otherwise meet conventional underwriting standards. This is accomplished by establishing a unique loan “guarantee” reserve account to recover losses from loans enrolled in the program. The loans may be used by graphics producers, content creators, and other borrowers as working capital, lines of credit, or for the purchase or construction of fi xed assets such as buildings and equipment. Refinancing existing loans is also possible under the program. An SSBCI borrower must be a “small business” with annual sales of less than $10 million and must create or retain jobs. Working capital loans can be for as much as $250,000 with a maximum $500,000 for fi xed assets. Bottom line: The federal government will kick in the funds to either a new or existing state CAP. While SSBCI funds may be used for collateral support and other innovative credit access and guarantee initiatives, the primary thrust is to CAPS. A CAP loan has been described as a private market transaction between a lender and the borrower with all terms, fees, conditions, rates, collateral, etc., being determined by the lending bank. CAP is a portfolio insurance concept where the borrower and the state each contribute a percentage of the loan amount into a reserve fund located at the lender’s bank. This reserve fund enables the financial institution to make loans beyond its conventional risk threshold and is available to draw upon to recover losses made under the program. The typical CAP program encourages lending by establishing a unique loan “guarantee” reserve pool. The state, the lender, and the borrower each typically pay a small fee into the pool. With every loan, each participating lending institution enrolls in the CAP program, and the reserve pool grows. The reserve pool is available to the participating lender for recovery of any losses on any loan they have registered or enrolled in the CAP.

48

THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011

To be eligible for funding, a state CAP is required to: provide portfolio insurance for business loans based upon a separate loan-loss reserve fund for each financial institution; require insurance premiums to be paid by the financial institution lenders and by the business borrowers to the reserve fund to have their loans enrolled in the reserve fund; provide for contributions to be made by the state to the reserve fund in amounts at least equal to the sum of the amount of the insurance premium paid by the borrower and the financial institution to the reserve fund for any newly enrolled loan; and provide portfolio insurance solely for loans not exceeding $5 million to borrowers with 500 or fewer employees. For other types of credit-support programs, a state must demonstrate that: $1 of public support will result in $1 of new private credit; and individual guarantees will be limited to loans not greater than $20 million and borrowers with 750 or fewer employees. On average, the program will target borrowers with 500 or fewer employees and loans with an average principal amount of $5 million or less. In addition, states must show that, taken together, its CAP and other credit support programs will result in $10 of new small business lending for each $1 in federal funds. If a state does not have an existing small-business capital access or other credit support program, the state can establish one in order to obtain SSBCI funding. If a state did not fi le the require notice of intent or fails to meet the June 2011 deadline, municipalities within the state may apply for the pro-rata share of the state’s allocation – provided the municipality can meet all of the program’s criteria. Up to three municipalities within a state may be eligible to receive SSBCI funds.

Successfully opening the funding spigot The US Department of the Treasury recently announced that the states of Michigan and North Carolina were the first to receive SSBCI funds. These funds will, as the Treasury announced, strengthen the states’ existing programs that leverage private lending to help finance small business and manufacturers that are creditworthy but who are not getting the loans they need to expand and create jobs. Under SSBCI, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US territories are offered the opportunity to apply for funds for programs that partner with private lenders to extend greater credit to small businesses. States are required to demonstrate minimum “bang for the buck,” of $10 in new private lending for every $1 in federal funding. Accordingly, the $1.5 billion funding commitment that the federal government will make for this program is expected to support $15 billion in additional private lending.


business software <41 print job contains a thumbnail image, detailed information about the print job, and costs for ink and media; users can also track production trends. PrintMetryx JobView is available at no cost with a subscription to Onyx Links service option plus the latest version of Onyx RIP software version 7.3.2 packages. New PrintMetryx JobView Pro is a subscription-based service that offers additional features including interactive dashboards, ink coverage reports, custom filters and job tagging, and the ability to look at all of a shop’s RIPS or focus on a single printer. PagePath Technologies pagepath.com MyOrderDesk is an online, orderflow system for print providers. The order-entry, file-transfer, FTP-server, and job-status system can also work with a back-end costing system to provide users with online proofing and re-order capabilities. Recently, the company partnered with Intuit to offer QuickBooks invoice generation; and also partnered with Onpoint Connect Shipping to offer shipping via UPS, FedEx, DHL, USPS, company truck, and local courier from a single, Webbased interface. Pivotal Z pivotalz.com Prestige Scheduler is a production planning and tracking system that graphically tracks each job through to its completion and warns about inventory shortages in advance. The program can stand alone or connect with other production-order and shop-floor systems and can be used in monitor mode or as a Web browser. Its Variable Labor Scheduling feature is built to support shops with complex labor constraints (such as those over multiple shifts), automatically adjusting the shop’s plan and resources based on available operators and their skills. Its terminology can also be customized to match that of the shop using the program.

Polkadots Software polkadots.ca Track-it time- and job-management software features time management of jobs in production; management of production resources; cumulativetime reporting; automatic creation of job data; historical search functionality; and more. Print MIS printmis.com E Pro Enterprise, a print-management solution, is designed with a wide spectrum of digital, commercial, and litho print providers in mind. E Pro comprises several modules, including estimating, job production, purchase orders, stock control, scheduling, delivery notes, invoicing, accounts, stock fulfillment, customer and supplier service, CRM, direct-mail marketing, and management reports. The company’s E Pro Core solution includes several modules including sales enquiry, order management, customer management, finished goods, and supplier management. Printer’s Software printerssoftware.com The company’s Presidio print-management solutions are designed for commercial and in-plant print operations; they can stand alone or be integrated in any combination. Available modules include: Estimate, Job Control, Schedule, Shopnet (allows users to capture production data in real time), Accounting, Inventory/POs, eCommerce, and Finished Goods (inventory and fulfillment). printLeader printleader.com Visual printLeader is a PC-based, modular, print-management solution designed for small to mid-size printing, copying, and graphic-arts businesses. Modules include pricing, order entry, accounts receivable, accounts payable, system manager, purchase order, bank reconciliation, and customer manager. The company

recently added a Web-based online order-entry system. PrintPoint printpoint.com PrintPoint 6 estimating and management software is a customizable, print-management solution designed for small and medium-sized commercial, in-plant, large-format, and digital printers as well as prepress shops. The latest version now boasts 50 new features, including a redesigned interface, time- or unit-based estimating, a prepress estimating module, data history, accounting links, post-press tracking (cutting, packing, etc), a new fulfillment module, and more. PrintStar printstar.biz PrintStar allows users to create a customer-contact database; track inventory, paper supplies, job costs, and profitability; generate estimates; assign, schedule, and track jobs; create purchase orders and invoices; and warehouse, track, and ship finished goods. Version 4.6 also features dashboard statistics, Web-press module, jobs from templates, estimate attachments, improved security, enhanced Quickbook integration, and more. A wide-format module is available. Prism USA prism-world.com Prism Win MIS features a Sales Order Processing module that provides automated control throughout each stage of the sale, including information on stock levels, requirements analysis, order status, and delivery dates. The Jobbing feature automatically converts successful quotes into active jobs, producing work tickets and job folders with bar-coded job IDs. It can monitor deadlines and considers job prerequisites such as proof OKs, available shifts, and more. Users can even switch variables, such as adding a shift or changing a job order, to test “what-if” scenarios. Users also can manage the shop floor, and Prism www.bigpicture.net

49


business software Win can collect actual times and costs for individual jobs. PrismWin SBE offers the same integrated modular functionality, scaled back to meet the needs of the smaller print business. Prism QTMS iQ offers a set of machine monitoring modules and custom developed sensors that automatically record and collate accurate shop-floor information. SA International saintl.biz Sign Tracker, originally designed as an Excel-based program design for sign shops and graphics producers, is now being offered as an online Web application. Recent updates include improved sales tracking, project wizard, additional estimating tools for custom signs and service, and expanded dashboard with a “help and how-to” section. It allows for customer

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management, estimating, accounting, inventory, project management, sales, scheduling, designing, and more. ShopWorks shopworx.com Onsite 7 is an integrated businessmanagement tool designed specifically for digital-print operations, screen printers, embroiderers, promotional product distributors, and award manufacturers. Onsite addresses sales functions, accounting functions, and production functions; new features include improved navigation tools, white-paper comparing; more user access control, attachments of any files to records, no file-size limits, custom order and design status, improved general-ledger accounting, and better workflow management.

Wasatch Wasatch SoftRIP 6.7 includes the Wasatch Cost Estimator, designed to provide an accurate estimate of a job. Users can estimate costs for media, inks, and any additional post-production charges (media lamination, finishing sprays, grommets, etc.). Results can be exported to either a database-friendly format or directly to an HTML Web page.

April 2011

Agfa Graphics 36-37 www.agfa.com Aurora Specialty Textiles 23 www.auroratextile.com Bordeaux Digital Print Ink Ltd. OBC www.c-m-y-k.com Caldera Graphics. 47 www.caldera.com EFI 17, 19 www.efi.com EskoArtwork 23 www.esko.com Flora Digital Printing 45 www.floradigital.com Fujifilm Sericol USA Inc. 11 www.fujifilmsericol.com Hewlett-Packard 5 www.hp.com Inx Digital 21 www.inxdigital.com Lintec of America 51 www.lintecofamerica.com

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SoftUse printersplan.com Printer’s Plan is designed to allow print shops to prepare estimates, enter detailed work orders, and schedule, invoice, and collect receivables. The e-business tool allows customers to place orders, request quotes, proof artwork, send/receive files, track work in progress, and view job history.

THE BIG PICTURE april 2011

Marabu North America 15 www.marabu-northamerica..com Mimaki USA, Inc. 3 www.mimakiusa.com Mutoh America 9 www.mutoh.com Nazdar 46 www.sourceoneonline.com Palram Americas 1 www.palramamericas.com Pregis Corp. 51 www.falconboard.com Seiko I Infotech IFC www.seiko-i.com ST Book Division 51 www.bookstore.stmediagroup.com Teckwin 44 www.teckwin-usa.com Ultraflex Systems 51 www.ultraflexx.com Vycom Corp. IBC www.vycom.com


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job log

An Oven-Roasted Shelter “The biggest obstacle was the number of materials used in the job. Five different media were used, plus adhesives,” says Pixelwerx president Adam Carver.

52

THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2011

The Client Caribou Coffee The Players Pixelwerx (pixelwerx.net), Colle+McVoy (collemcvoy.com), CBS Outdoor Tools & Supplies Epson Stylus Pro GS6000, Sihl 3686 TriSolv PrimeArt paper, Herculite Bantex Blackout scrim banner, 50/50 Northlight Color Perf, InteliCoat Magic SCF-7 The Job Seeking to promote its “hot ‘n wholesome” menu items, Minnesota’s Caribou Coffee paired with local ad agency Colle+McVoy to develop a marketing message that not only would showcase the chain’s hot breakfast sandwiches, but also actually share the warmth with pedestrians by producing three specially designed transit shelters. The shelters would mirror the look of an oven as well as the feel – complete with coils acting as built-in heating systems to keep Minnesotans warm during the winter months. Out-of-home media company CBS Outdoor contracted local print provider Pixelwerx to produce the graphics for the shelters. The work comprised shelter posters, a banner for the top of the shelters, and window graphics for the interior of the structures. Production A prop-production company helped determine the best structural substrates to use to give the shelters a realistic “oven appearance,” while having the ability to withstand Minnesota’s harsh winter conditions and also be vandal-resistant. Specs were provided to Colle+McVoy, which created the Caribou images using Adobe Creative Suite. For output, Pixelwerx produced all graphics utilizing its Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 with Onyx ProductionHouse X10 RIP, using Epson UltraChrome inks. The graphics on the sides of the shelters were output onto Sihl 3686 TriSolv PrimeArt Paper; the top of the shelter was printed with 18-ounce Herculite Bantex Blackout scrim; the glass graphics (interior back wall) were printed onto 50/50 Northlight Color Perf; and the window tint was output onto InteliCoat Magic SCF-7. CBS Outdoor handled the installation and required permits, for the heat elements. The orange coils within the transit shelter used the power equivalent of a heat lamp, so no protective barrier was needed between the coils and shelter visitors, the company reports – all of which added to the authentic oven feel.


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The Big Picture - April 2011  

In this issue: Power Play - 8 Great Superwide Projects; QR Codes - Bringing 2D to Life; Business Software Solutions; Keys to Getting Fundin...

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