Attracting artistic clientele
PLUS: 路 Making Your Mark Online 路 How to Avoid Fraud 路 Special Report: Cutters & Routers
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8/25/10 9:38 AM
in this issue
February 2011 Volume 16 No. 2
COLUMNS 4 InSight
ine art’s F challenges.
14 Inside Output
I nventing your way out of a recession.
15 Business + Management
ow to avoid H fraud in your operation.
DEPARTMENTS 8 Wide Angle
FEATURES 16 Drawing a Fine-Art Crowd
By Britney Grimmelsman
hat are fine artists looking for in a print provider? We spoke with six shops W catering to fine artists, asking them to address aspects such as knowledge base, technology, and attention to detail, plus their marketing strategies and their expectations when it comes to the market.
11 Up Front
ews + N noteworthy.
20 Making Your Mark Online
he latest tech, T products, and supplies.
By Paula Yoho
40 Job Log
solid, professional website design doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and it’s A an excellent forum for showcasing your company’s work. No matter the size of your operation, you can position yourself as on-par with anyone in the industry with an investment in an effective website. Here are 10 sites with features that can be effective in driving more traffic and business.
24 Special Report: Cutters and Routers
Whether you’re primarily outputting onto rigid or roll materials, you inevitably have a need to cut to finish the piece. But just what type of equipment do you need? We’ve put together a sourcelist of more than 50 companies that produce cutters, cutting systems, and routers.
ON THE COVER: Steve Hill’s Croatian Island Port; print by Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction (bellevuefineart.com). Cover design by Laura Mohr.
howing off S the shop and substrates for Flugtag.
BIG PICTURE February 2011
I n Cleveland, replacing LeBron.
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insight by Gregory Sharpless
www.bigpicture.net Gregory Sharpless Editor/Associate Publisher email@example.com
Fine Art’s Challenges Whenever we cover fine-art printing, as we’re doing in this issue (see page 16), I’m always struck by the particular challenges this niche presents – not just its technological challenges, but what appear to be challenges in customer service and marketing, too. At a Signage & Graphics Summit a few years ago, I recall, when the subject of fine-art printmaking came up, one attendee harrumphed and said, “If I tried taking on fine artists, I’d be spending all my time and resources on them…they’re just too needy!” Of course, only you can determine if a client – whether a fine artist or a traditional commercial client – is too needy. But if you do opt to take on fine art as a niche for your company, I think the information from the six shops we profi le in this issue will come in handy. In addition, here are some valuable tidbits of information we were unable to fit in the article’s text: • “I let customers know that the proof will be a print that if hanging on a wall across from the original, most people would have a hard time seeing the diﬀerences,” says Mark Hanson at Hanson Digital. “But, if they want…an exact match, then it will likely take several rounds of color adjustments, which are billable expenses.” • In addition to inkjet, The LightRoom also oﬀers LightJet printing, but this option is rarely utilized. “Usually it’s a photographer simply feeling more familiar with a traditional darkroom paper, but it doesn’t happen much anymore,” says The LightRoom’s Robert Reiter. “My LightJet printing has gone down about 95 percent in the last three years.” • From Stephen Schaub, Indian Hill Imageworks: “A print will look very diﬀerent on handmade Amate or Gampi paper than it will on, say, a Canson Baryta. We try to help a client anticipate these diﬀerences and will suggest an artist be at our studio for the actual printing.” • Lizza Studios worked with a local design firm to create a website that shows the capabilities Lizza oﬀers. The site features a tool that allows visitors to magnify scans done on various media to understand the product they will receive. “Working with a firm to create the site was money well spent. I came up with the ideas, but I never could have carried it out myself,” says Bob Lizza. • “It’s helpful when the artist knows their pigments and what went into the painting,” says Scott Moore at Bellevue Fine Art. “Some people know their colors [while] to others, blue is blue. Imagine asking a person from California what kind of snow they like – they’ll tell you snow. Ask a native Alaskan, and they’ll describe what kind of snow they like, and they have a name for it. The same is true of painting. An artist that knows what they want from the reproduction and what’s important to them is very helpful.”
Britney Grimmelsman Associate Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Paula Yoho Contributing Editor Laura Mohr Art Director email@example.com Marty McGhie, Craig Miller, Jared Smith Columnists Linda Volz Production Supervisor firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com bigpicture.net/subscribe bigpicture.net/renew Single Copies/Back Issues Debbie Reed firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
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Showing Off the Shop
For the past three years, Louisville-based USA Image (usaimage.com) has swung wide its doors each winter for an open-house gala, and 2010 was no different. The four-hour event allowed current and prospective customers to enjoy the print provider’s hospitality while browsing a sampling of various projects the shop can produce, including hanging banners, fabric backdrops, floor graphics (featuring the company logo), vehicle wraps, and much more. The shop provided complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and attendees were automatically registered to win a $2500 custom printing package. “The event is good for increasing business with clients, showing them new substrates, and generally us just spending some time with them,” says USA Image’s Judd Morgan. 8
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
Substrates for Flugtag
German for â€œflying day,â€? the celebrated
Flugtag event sponsored by Red Bull encourages people to test their ability to fly. Even though the human-powered flying machines rarely achieve a height of more than a few feet, daredevils everywhere continue to take the risk. Australian wide-format supplies distributor Starleaton Digital Solutions (starleaton.com.au) opted to utilize media and tools it was already familiar with in constructing its three-winged flying machine for the 2010 Sydney event: 3A Composites Gatorfoam for the airframe and wing cross sections and ConVerd Enviroboard MR for the fuselage; Morane laminating film was used to skin both wings and fuselage. All components were CNC-cut on a MultiCam system. Alas, the Starleaton plane suffered a glitch at take-off and plunged directly into Sydney Harbor. 10
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
Home Makeover, Showtime Style For a few weeks last autumn, television came alive in Midtown Manhattan’s Cassa Hotel and Residences, when Showtime Networks collaborated with leading designers, technology partners, and print providers to transform the top three penthouses of the 48-story building into a showcase of digitally printed, multimedia graphic displays. Inspired by seven of the cable network’s leading original series, the Showtime House 2010 featured innovative décor items emulating the style and persona of each program, and highlighting the integration of technology and creativity. For their part of the project, designers John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon (jloeckeinc.com) collaborated with HP as well as print provider Olson Visual (olsonvisual.com) of Hawthorne, California, on the project. Olson Visual worked with the designers on some of the items in the “Weeds” room, producing, for instance, “Weeds”-inspired lampshades with its HP Scitex LX600 printer, outputting onto HP Premium Vivid Color Backlit fi lm. Loecke and Nixon also worked directly with the HP Wall Art team to produce that room’s splashy floral wall graphics. The designers drew 16 diﬀerent floral and vine designs and provided these along with the wall dimensions to HP, which output the graphics using an HP Designjet L25500 onto the company’s PVC-free Wall
Art media. To create the 3-D eﬀect, Loecke and Nixon cut out some of the florals and vines, then decoupaged them along the walls and ceilings. On another front, Grandville Printing (gpco.com) of Grandville, Michigan, also worked with Showtime on the project, producing high-end invitations and resource guides for the house using its 7-color HP Indigo 7500 digital press. Proceeds from paid tours of the Showtime House, which was open to the public through October 2010, benefited the Harlem Children’s Zone, a communitybased organization serving more than 17,000 inner-city children that works to end the cycle of generational poverty.
How Much of Your Shop’s Output is Laminated?
76% or more 0%-20%
0% - 20% (40% of total respondents) 21% - 40% (23% of total respondents)
41% - 75% (17% of total respondents) 76% or more (20% of total respondents) 21%-40% SOURCE: ONLINE SURVEY OF READERS OF THE BIG PICTURE (BIGPICTURE.NET), ASKING, “WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR OUTPUT/PRINTS ARE LAMINATED?” www.bigpicture.net
Nashakele Debuts The AfriJet Printer Nashakele Distribution (nashakale. co.za), a leading South African signage supplier, created a stir at the Sign Africa Expo in Johannesburg last fall with its introduction of the 4-color AfriJet, an infrared flatbed. Billed as “the first outdoor printer to be conceptualized and assembled in South Africa,” the AfriJet features, quick-drying infraredcured light-solvent inks (alcohol-based), infrared lamps, Epson DX5 heads in a dual-head configuration, a top resolution of 1440 dpi, and a standard production print speed of approximately 269 square feet/hour (538 square feet/hour in draft mode). The company reports that the infrared-cured inks are highly adhesive and can print directly onto many substrates including art paper, PET, metal-coated plastic or paper, leather, acrylic, as well as glass with no pre-coating required. The machine has a 71-inch print bed and comes standard with choice of Onyx or Topaz RIP. The printer is currently being sold in sub-Saharan Africa. “We hope to be in a position to showcase it to the international markets at Dubai [in 2011], and certainly to the European markets as soon as we can,” says Shawn Bezuidenhout of Nashakele Distribution. “Interest has been so overwhelming that we’re considering international investors to expedite production and global distribution.”
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
Mutoh Launches Online Business Builder Resource Mutoh America has launched Mutoh Business Builder (MBB), providing customers with market specific information, education, and application driven training. New and old customers can access MBB for free by registering their printers and creating a password. “MBB is a tool for our customers to learn about the different applications they can create using our products. Time and time again, people tell me they had no idea what all they could do with our printers. With MBB, we will showcase on mutoh.com, in our four showrooms across the country, and at tradeshows, various applications and educational information for making money using our Mutoh digital printing and cutting equipment,” states Brian Phipps, general manager of Mutoh America. MBB oﬀers unlimited access to a training video library, FAQ knowledgebase forums, discounts to the Carwraps Design Database, discounted templates from Art Station, webinars, the Vehicle Graphics 101 eBook, and reduced rates on “Hands on Installation Training.” Additional content will be added to the site over time in 2011 as it becomes available, the company reports.
Percentage of US CEOs reporting they will add to payrolls over the course of the next six months. Some 80% also said they expect sales will grow in the first half of 2011. SOURCE: “CEO ECONOMIC OUTLOOK SURVEY,” Q4 2010, CONDUCTED QUARTERLY BY THE BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE (BUSINESSROUNDTABLE.ORG).
Roland DGA Announces Partnership with Richard Childress Racing
“Clients believe success is finding a supplier that helps them solve a problem. They may want a startup to be successful, but not necessarily very large.” –RUSSELL ROTHSTEIN, FOUNDER OF SALES SPIDER (SALESPIDER. COM), WRITING IN REUTERS’ ENTREPRENEURIAL BLOG.
A partnership between Roland DGA and Richard Childress Racing (RCR, rcrracing.com) has established Roland DGA as the exclusive printer manufacturer for RCR, a performer on the NASCAR racing circuit and sponsor of drivers including Kevin Harvick, Jeﬀ Burton, and Clint Bowyer. The agreement equips RCR’s new Graphics Center with Roland wide-format inkjet printers and printer/cutters including SolJet Pro III XC-540MT and VersaCamm VS inkjet printer/cutters. Through the partnership, RCR will open its facility in Welcome, North Carolina, to Roland for training classes, dealer meetings, product demonstrations, and other events, and will oﬀer additional support to Roland advertising and marketing campaigns. “Roland printers provide RCR’s in-house graphics department with quality, speed, reliability, and the ability to print and cut graphics in one seamless eﬀort,” says Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “Roland printers will give our vehicles a new look and feel, as well as allow us the quality control and quick turnaround we were looking for.” “We are honored to partner with Richard Childress Racing,” says Dave Goward, president and CEO of Roland DGA Corp. “Years of prestigious wins have made RCR a NASCAR legend and favorite among racing fans everywhere. We look forward to sharing in the excitement of this amazing organization.”
Transilwrap Company Acquires Interfilm Holdings Transilwrap Company has announced the acquisition of Interfi lm Holdings, Inc., the distributor and converter of flexible fi lms. “Interfi lm has an extremely impressive reputation in the business and is highly respected in the US and Canadian markets,” says Andy J. Brewer, Trasilwrap’s president and CEO. “This strategic combination of products, services, and employees will enable us to oﬀer our customers more diverse solutions, backed by expanded production assets and a highly experienced team of sales, operations, and customer-service employees.”
In a press release announcing the acquisition, Transilwrap reported: “Specifically, the acquisition of Interfi lm supports Transilwrap’s goal to expand and strengthen its current fi lms business and access new markets, solidifying Transilwrap’s position as one of the leading fi lm converters and distributors in North America. The acquisition will also provide the opportunity to attract new customers with broader converting capabilities and reach new markets through expanded product oﬀerings such as the full line of Brushfoil specialty fi lms.”
inside insideoutput output
Inventing Your Way Out of a Recession By Craig Miller
or the past decade, I’ve had a “mad scientist” vision of creating two inventions for our industry: a time machine and an anti-gravity machine. We all could use the time machine to satisfy customers who want their prints yesterday, or to travel to the future to see if that six-figure piece of equipment we plan to buy will be obsolete in six months. And, because we are all painfully aware that trouble (among other things) flows downhill, we could use the anti-gravity machine to reverse the flow and deliver it back to those who created it in the first place. If any of you would like to collaborate on these inventions, I am taking on investment partners. If you’ve been around our industry for any amount of time, you know that R&D projects can take many forms. Yes, they can be as grand as inventing a time machine or “the next big thing.” But they can also be as simple as combining existing materials and processes in a slightly diﬀerent way to create something unique. As with many other companies, we responded to the recent recession with cost cutting, downsizing, and eliminating expenses for almost everything that wasn’t essential. One category, however, was not only spared our accountant’s red pen, but enjoyed a dramatically increased budget in 2010: research and development. Now, even in boom times, embarking on an R&D project is fraught with risk. And an inventive initiative is certainly more diﬃcult to justify in a recession. But I would argue that now is the perfect time to “invent your way out” of an economic downturn. CRAIG MILLER is a principal shareholder in Las Vegas-based Pictographics, where he is also director of military and law-enforcement projects, the company’s defense-contracting division. Pictographics (pictographics.net) is a large-format graphics service bureau that excels in digitally dyed textiles, wall coverings, and custom applications.
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
Many risks, no assurances There is always the danger that embarking on an R&D project might cause you to “take your eye oﬀ the ball.” Your company probably has a portfolio of products and services that makes up the bulk of your business. Our company, for instance, has become good at performing specific processes and procedures; and because we know what we’re doing, this allows us to find a comfort zone. But by spending time and money on inventing or developing new products and services, it’s easy to take your focus oﬀ what you do best. Your core business might suﬀer from diverting your attention at the very time when it’s needed most. And it’s not just your time that gets diverted – cash flow that could be spent on things like inventory, equipment maintenance, increased staﬀ, or raises, can also be siphoned into an R&D eﬀort. A second risk: There are no guarantees. Just because you have good ideas and good intentions, doesn’t mean you will ever make a dime attempting to fulfi ll them. So, after all the money and time is gone, the potential remains that you will get nothing in return. A third risk: A failed new product can damage your company’s reputation. When you work within your comfort zone and only do things you absolutely know will succeed, you minimize your risk. By succumbing to the temptation to follow your wild imagination – or that of your clients’– you can be taken into uncharted territory where the risk of failure looms large. I can personally attest to the unfortunate consequences of being too cavalier about selling products that were imagined to be a big success. Finally, consider: You have spent time and money to develop a product or method that gives you a competitive advantage. But all of this does little good if a competitor can simply copy what you’re doing. This is the fourth risk, and it gets us into to the legal world of trade secrets, patents, copyrights, and trademarks. To protect your intellectual property you must draft the proper non-compete and nondisclosure contracts with your employees and colleagues, and fi le the applicable patent/copyright/trademark documents with the government. This process is time consuming and expensive, and even when this is done >35
business + management
Taking the Necessary Steps to Avoid Fraud By Marty McGhie
ears ago while I was in college, an accounting professor – one of the country’s foremost experts in white-collar fraud – informed us that he was going to spend the class period talking about fraud and how it might aﬀect us in our careers. We were somewhat surprised when he told us that, during the course of our careers, we would no doubt be witnesses to fraud and may even find ourselves susceptible to its temptations. Now, some of you may believe that the topic of fraud doesn’t really apply to you and your organization. You believe there really isn’t anyone in your company that could possibly be capable of fraud. But you are wrong. Most often, the person convicted of fraud is one of the most trusted people in an organization, and as such, has essentially been given total control over fiscal responsibilities. Another telling statistic: In terms of tenure with the company, more than 30 percent of those who perpetuate fraud have been with the company between five and 10 years. In other words, those who have established trust. Your best defense against fraud, then, is to realize that you and your organization are not immune.
Fraud’s three elements In my college class, we learned about a concept called “the Fraud Triangle.” To help us remember what this phrase means, our professor drew an analogy: Just as fire requires three elements to exist – heat, oxygen, and fuel – fraud also requires a combination of three elements to exist: pressure, opportunity, and rationalization. Pressure, of course, comes in the way of financial pressure, whether it is too many bills, overspending, credit-card payments piling up, expensive medical bills, or a myriad of other things that can cause financial strain in our lives. Opportunity has to do with the position that an individual has within your business structure and how that position can allow them access to steal from you. This would typically be oriented around the financial organization of your business, but could also involve the management of assets that are easily converted to cash. Rationalization is self-explanatory. The person commit-
ting fraud is somehow convinced that he or she “deserves” the money they are stealing from you – to the point, in fact, that they often don’t believe that they are stealing. Whether they believe they are borrowing it and will eventually pay it back, or that they deserve it for some reason, they have rationalized their way into committing the fraud.
An ounce of prevention So, if I have convinced you that fraud could potentially exist in your company, how do you prevent it? Let’s address each element of the triangle. Rationalization may be the most diﬃcult to prevent. This has to do as much with the character of the individual as anything. Perhaps the best way to battle individual rationalization is to establish a position that your business will operate under ethical principles at all times and will expect the same from your employees. Indeed, studies indicate that when confronted about their dishonesty, many employees have justified their actions because they perceive that the company they work for (and have stolen from) has committed dishonest or unethical acts with regards to their customers or vendors or even employees. Ironically, the employees who may be aware of these practices are also often those in positions where they can commit fraud themselves. So it stands to reason that if an employee knows he works for a company with zero tolerance against dishonesty, he may be less inclined to rationalize dishonest behavior. Another way to deter rationalization is to make sure you prosecute to the fullest extent of the law any individual who commits fraud in your company. It may sound >36
Marty McGhie is VP finance/operations of Ferrari Color, a digital-imaging center with Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento locations. The company offers high-quality large- and grand-format photo, inkjet, fabric, and UV printing. email@example.com
By Britney Grimmelsman
Tips from six shops on working with fine artists and their art.
Print shops successfully working with fine artists have been able to master not only the skills and technologies necessary to create nearly identical duplicates of their clients’ artwork, but they’ve also aced the test when it comes to attracting clientele seeking out a “fine-art friendly” print provider. What are fine artists looking for in a print shop? While this will vary, of course, with the individual artist, it’s safe to say that the following attributes can go a long way when it comes to drawing a fine-art crowd: • A passion for working with fine art and artists; • A shop that will strive to understand the artist client’s expectations; • Knowledge from the print provider, to steer the artist to the best media, inks, and technologies to reproduce the work; • Attention to detail in all phases of the work, from capture to output and finishing – fine artists are probably much more intimately familiar with every aspect of their artwork than commercial clients are with their fi les; and • Consistency, when it comes to color particularly, from original to print, and from print to print. We spoke with six print shops catering to fine artists, asking them to address not only the above points, but also 16
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
their marketing strategies and their expectations when it comes to the market.
Bellevue Fine Art: fostering a relationship After traveling the world as an international business consultant, Scott Moore, owner of Seattle-based Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction (bellevuefineart.com) realized that what Seattle really needed was a print shop that specialized in fine-art reproduction, high-end scanning, and color correction. “As with many new businesses, I set out to solve my own problem. I’m an artist, and was looking for printers that could reproduce my artwork.” Today, Bellevue dedicates 100 percent of its resources and technologies to fine-art printing and scanning. The shop’s clientele consists of about 80 percent artists, 10 percent professional photographers, and 10 percent average consumers such as art collectors and people seeking photo restoration or personal printing. “It’s hard to throw away all that good banner business and commercial jobs that naturally come our way because we do large-format printing. But it has served both us and our clientele well to specialize in fine art, and to do it well,” says Moore.
To combat the loss of other sales as he focuses shop services on the fine-art market, Moore forges mutually beneficial relationships with local print shops – by passing on sales leads to local shops; those print providers, in return, pass on giclée printing and scanning jobs to Bellevue. Bellevue also markets to fine artists directly, as well as to galleries and publishing companies. As another marketing initiative, it has developed an online gallery, which will soon offer a Web-to-print capability. And, in conjunction with the Web-to-print pilot program, Moore selectively chooses artists to “sponsor” by undertaking the scanning and publishing of their work at no charge. “The more successful our artists are, the more successful we will be, and so we try and foster that relationship and work with artists to create value from their investment,” explains Moore. To ensure the clients receive the best results possible, Moore has invested in some high-end technologies. For instance, the shop uses a Betterlight Super 8K scanning back: “The Betterlight scanning system is second to none, and we’ve spent a lot of time learning to use it well, including attending their training,” says Moore. For the scanning of photographs, the shop uses an Epson 4870 Photo Scanner; it also offers image-editing services along with photo restoration. Hard proofing of every piece is done onto LexJet archival matte or semi-matte paper; the final 8 x 10-inch proof also serves as a portfolio piece for many artists. Moore attributes successful proofing to working closely with the artists themselves. “Sometimes it’s not just a formality, it’s a joint effort, and it’s their art, not ours. We want their input. It’s especially helpful when the artist knows their pigments and what went into the painting,” he says. Along with print proofing, the shop also offers screenmatch (aka “soft”) proofing, a more affordable option that can be used when exact color matching isn’t critical or if the original is not available. The soft proof is done on the shop’s Sony Artisan monitor under controlled lighting conditions. Although some clients may request to proof from their home monitors, the shop strongly advises against it. “We can’t assume that people will have calibrated monitors, so sending PDFs isn’t helpful except for the layout review and graphics that contain text.” For final output, Bellevue strictly uses the Epson line of printers (Stylus Pro 4880, 9800, and 9900 models), along with Epson UltraChrome K3 and UltraChrome HDR inks. “We would rather not mix printer manufacturers, for better or worse. Consistency is key, and we have consistent, predictable color workflow.” As for finishing, Bellevue services include canvas stretching and lamination with Clearstar Clearshield Gloss, Breathing Color Glamour II Gloss, and Neschen UltraCoat Gloss for extended protection. Moore admits that in the end, there are always limita-
tions to what the shop can produce: “We get some artists that insist on absolute perfection that is beyond the technology or human ability. Sometimes we do have to insist that we just can’t do better, or we can’t put in more time for something that will realistically only be printed a few times.”
Avalon Color: targeting artists as clients During the mid 1990s, Dennis Johnson, owner of Avalon Color (avaloncolor.com), realized his knack for fine-art printing while exploring reproductions of his own work. To develop an initial client base, Johnson offered to create giclées of local painters’ work in a one-time-only, free-ofcharge deal. These prints then served as samples for other clients. “I used the experience and copies of the work to show artists what I could really do – it opened a lot of doors to new clients.” Today, fine-art printing constitutes 30 percent of the New Hampshire-based company’s revenue. Another factor in attracting fine-art clientele, Johnson says, was his shop’s presence at local art shows. By attending the shows, he was able to target artists whose work would reproduce well. “I’d mainly go after watercolor paintings and avoid anything too weird, like fluorescent oil colors that are often impossible to accurately duplicate. In a way, I shopped for clients.” To capture artwork, Avalon utilizes a Nikon D2x digital SLR camera and a 5000K lighting setup customized to realize every detail of the projects. Once the shots are
Left: Croatian Island Port, by Steve Hill (original: pastels on tinted paper). Print provider: Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction. Print: 11 x 14 inches, on Moab Entrada Bright White paper, using an Epson Stylus Pro 9900 printer with UltraChrome HDR archival inks. Above: Lighthouse Wash Day, by Bob Askey (original: oil painting on canvas). Print provider: Avalon Color. Print: 14.5 x 18 inches, using an Epson Stylus Pro 7800. www.bigpicture.net
fine art taken, GretagMacbeth ColorChecker custom color profiles are created for each to provide the client with several options. All paper is profiled using an X-rite i1io automated scanning table. Although some clients come to Avalon with their work already digitally captured, most seek a more professional look. “Very rarely some [clients] try and photograph their artwork themselves but are unhappy with the results,” says Johnson. For the rare clients who come to the shop with slides or transparencies, Avalon uses its Howtek 4500 drum scanner. The majority of Avalon’s fine-art clients want exact replicas of their original work, which can pose a challenge, “I get their expectations upfront before the job starts. If it’s a watercolor reproduction, I can usually make an exact replica; for oil paintings, I explain the printer’s color gamut in relation to oil pigments – how it is smaller– so there’s no confusion.” Because of the complications with oil paintings, Avalon generally produces three to four rounds of internal proofs, typically creating these with its Epson printer on the media of the client’s choice. Also available is an online proofing gallery, which has been successful with photography clientele, reports Johnson. For final output, the shop turns to its Epson Stylus Pro 7800 and 9800 printers because of their color capabilities, says Johnson. Avalon has other output options as well: It utilizes a Xerox 700 digital press to create 7 x 7-inch fine-
Uncle, by Cecilia Distefano (original: collage of natural leaves on rice paper). Print provider: The LightRoom. Print: various sizes, on Canson Arches Aquarelle Rag, using a Canon imageProGraf iPF 8300. 18
THE BIG PICTURE february 2011
art cards, and it also owns a Noritsu minilab, which it uses for Kodak prints up to 12 x 12 feet. The current economy has made it difficult for Avalon to increase its fine-art sales. “I would like to [increase my sales], but in this economy, art is more of a luxury item,” admits Johnson. To offset the loss in fine-art clients, Avalon has really stepped up its commercial printing: “Even though the commercial print industry suffered from the economy, it didn’t nearly do so as much as the fine-art market. Now a large percentage of our business comes from commercial short-run printing.”
The LightRoom: pride in media The LightRoom (lightroom.com) in Berkeley, California, is a fine-art and photography print shop that began using Iris printers during the late 1990s in addition to the Cibachrome printing it has been doing since 1975. Currently, fine-art printing constitutes 50 percent of the company’s sales, and it deals primarily with local artists. To continue increasing its fine-art clientele, LightRoom recently created a blog, “LightRumors,” which offers discussions on the latest trends in printing, art, and photography. The shop also offers a 10-percent discount to all new clients. Many of its clients come to The LightRoom seeking an identical replica of their artwork, says shop owner Robert Reiter. The artists often have the intention of continuing to work on the final print – the end result being a mixedmedia piece, he points out. For example, artist Arthur Stern takes the printed version of his work and adds abstract pencil and pastel drawings, and even pieces of dichroic glass from his stained-glass studio. Other clients commonly add brushstrokes to canvas prints for added depth, or emboss the original pieces with metallic foils. The LightRoom takes pride in providing artists with a multitude of media solutions, stocking more than 17 media options. “I show them samples, discuss things like the effect of texture vs. smooth; matte vs. reflective surfaces, particularly in terms of color gamuts and saturation; the choices in paper color, and the addition of optical brighteners – their benefits and drawbacks,” says Reiter. Once the media has been agreed upon, the shop uses its Canon imageProGraf iPF8300 to hard proof as well as to create the final print. The shop also offers LightJet printing on Fuji Crystal Archive paper, but this option is rarely utilized, says Reiter. Along with changes in printer choice, by the way, LightRoom is also steering away from the term “giclée,” says Reiter. “The word is not descriptive of the process and still has negative connotations to some galleries and museums who were burned by the poor archival properties of early giclée printing when it was done with dye-based ink. And, no one pronounces it right!” For digital capture, the shop outsources its work to a local photographer who uses a Canon EOS 5d Mark II digital
Finance and Fortune, by Katherine Siegler (original: acrylic on linen). Print provider: Hanson Digital. Print: 24 x 36 inches, on Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper, with an Epson Stylus Pro 11880 printer with Epson UltraChrome inks. SLR and stitches multiple frames into ultra-high resolution files using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. All subsequent file adjustments are then done in-house using Photoshop on an NEC 3090 WQXi monitor, which is also used for soft proofing. For film scanning, the shop uses its Imacon Flextight 848 scanner (the brand is now produced by Hasselblad).
Hanson Digital: immediately closer go the goal San Francisco-based print provider Hanson Digital opened in 2003 to serve as a support system for the stressful reproduction process artists face because of the subjective nature of fine-art digital printing, says shop owner Mark Hanson. Now, in 2011, fine-art reproduction constitutes 70 to 80 percent of the shop’s business. Within the fine-art clientele, about 60 percent are photographers, while the others tend to be more traditional fine-art clients including painters. Additional Hanson work comprises commercial clients such as design firms, advertising agencies, architectural firms, and larger companies looking to enhance and/or reproduce photographs and artwork. Along with capture and printing services, the shop offers image preparation – including color work, sharpening, and creating printer-specific profiles. The shop has also ventured into Web design and custom-designed Web portfolios for its artistic clients. To attract fine-art clientele, Hanson advertises through various artist organizations and depends on word-of-mouth marketing and online search engines. Attracting clients, however, is only half the battle when offering fine-art printing. Fine-art clients, Hanson admits, can often require more work and attention than, say, your typical banner or vehicle-graphics clients. “Artists, of course, know their work very intimately and are usually very attached to certain aspects of their artwork. It’s important for us to listen and ask questions to not only prevent excessive rounds of work and proofing, but to get closer to their goal right out of the gate.” To ensure the highest-quality capture, the shop uses a Screen 1045ai drum scanner, which can accommodate original transparencies or reflective art up to 11 x 17 inches, and fluid mounts all film for protection during the scanning. For larger and rigid-media jobs, Hanson shoots a 4 x 5-inch reproduction-grade transparency and then proceeds to drum scan. The difficult and sometimes tedious proofing process requires patience and honesty, admits Hanson, who provides clients with 7- to 8-inch swatch detail proofs. If one
swatch isn’t adequate, the shop will create several. Hanson utilizes the 8-color Epson Stylus Pro 11880 printer with Epson UltraChrome inks for all fine-art output for prints up to 64-inches wide. The shop also houses an Epson Stylus Pro 9800 that has been converted to a carbon-based black-and-white printer. Beyond printing, the shop offers laminating and mounting services. In-house laminating options include the addition of brush strokes to create a look more similar to the original; the shop first coats the piece with a liquid laminate, and then adds brushstrokes within the laminate. The key to successful fine-art printing is balance, Hanson suggests: “My advice is finding a perfect balance of give and take – providing enough service and advice without letting the client run on and on with unnecessary rounds of work. Or if they are that particular, we are willing to go the extra mile and do the work necessary to achieve the anticipated results; they just need to know early on that in order to meet those expectations, additional billable rounds of proofing may be involved.”
Indian Hill Imageworks: artists working for artists “Speed is not our motto. Quality and attention to detail is,” says Stephen Schaub, owner of Vermont-based Indian Hill Imageworks (indianhillimageworks.com). The shop has focused solely on fine-art printing, whether photography or painting reproductions, since 2000. Along with being 100-percent concentrated on fine-art printing, the shop considers itself a pioneer for all that is new in the fine-art digital printing market, paying particular attention to specialty papers. “Everything about our approach is different, from uncoated printing on ultra-thin 10gsm Japanese Gampi paper, to 640gsm full-bleed prints on handmade Arches sheets, to our inventory of hundreds of coated and uncoated papers– all of which make us a destination for artists looking for something new.” With Indian Hill’s niche in offering such a wide variety of fine-art papers, assisting clients in the media- >37 www.bigpicture.net
By Paula Yoho
MAKING YOUR MARK
ONLINE How a strong Web presence can give print providers a competitive edge.
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
At last count, Google listed more than a trillion – that’s a one with 12 zeros after it – URLs in its index. That’s a lot of competition for shops to differentiate themselves amid a sea of virtual competitors. Add to the mix a diﬃcult economy that has customers feeling a bit gun shy when it comes to investing in print campaigns, as well as the pressure for companies to “see and be seen” brought about with the emergence of social-network websites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and it’s easy for print providers to feel overwhelmed by the challenges of carving out an eﬀective niche in cyber space. Within the challenge, however, lies a huge opportunity. A solid, professional website design doesn’t cost a lot of money and is an excellent forum for showcasing a company’s work. The Internet has opened the door for smaller print providers to position themselves as on-par with their large counterparts with an investment in a professional-looking website. What’s more, print shops that devote the time and forethought into developing a social-media marketing strategy, and who maintain a consistent and professional appearance on the popular networking sites, can build a low-cost, word-of-mouth marketing campaign with relative ease. Here at The Big Picture, we haven’t yet found the time to visit all trillion sites on Google, of course. But we have taken the time to comb through websites of quite a few shops and have compiled a list of 10 print-shop sites with some specific features we think you may want to emulate in your own online presence. Keep in mind that we’re spotlighting various features and individual online pages, not highlighting any company’s entire website for the purposes of this article. Nor are we focusing on e-commerce or directly deriving commerce via websites (we’ll focus on this in an upcoming article). In addition, note that our editorial team looks at dozens of print provid-
ers’ websites each week throughout the course of a year, but we know there are many more out there. If you feel your shop’s website has a unique feature or is tackling an online challenge in an interesting way, please drop us a note with your URL and we’ll follow up.
The old adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” applies in the digital world, too. Not unlike the sign that hangs in front of your brick-and-mortar location, the landing page for your website is the gateway to your business and, in many cases, may be the first time a prospective client sees your work. Just as you wouldn’t invite clients into a facility that is dilapidated or unorganized, a visually engaging home page free of clutter and unnecessary information grabs the attention of visitors and draws them in to look at the rest of your site. A good example of a clean home page design is Kubin-Nicholson (kubin.com). Viewers are drawn in by a large logo and somewhat-kitschy slogan (“Printers of the Humongous”), and, below, a horizontal scrolling bar of colorful images showcases crisp examples of the company’s current projects. Its top navigation bar links visitors to the site’s other pages, including “Why K-N,” “Request a Quote,” and “Specifications” (the latter provides not only fi le/mechanical specs but also specs on various Kubin-Nicholson
equipment). Below the project gallery, the large-format print specialist, with locations in both Milwaukee and Dallas, divides its key home-page data into three categories: “large format commercial,” “everything outdoor,” and “K-N events.” Readers are linked via clearly labeled subheads within each category, guiding them directly to the page of information in which they’re interested. After clicking on a product category, you’re prompted to enlarge each sample image with the phrase, “Click to make humongous,” echoing the shop’s slogan. Oshkosh, Wisconsin-based OEC Display (oecdisplay.com) also incorporates a scrolling gallery of images on its home page, though with a completely diﬀerent look and feel. Rather than placing emphasis on its own projects, OEC utilizes common stocklike images that highlight the quality of its work and the shop’s attention to detail. Each color graphic is matched up with a concise phrase in bold type – “exceptional,” “grand format,” “qualified team,” “precise detail,” “quick turnarounds,” “worry free,” “dynamic color,” “ultra-high resolutions” – each descriptive of OEC’s core-value proposition. Lower on the OEC home page, readers find graphical links to six distinct areas of the website, each dedicated to a specific print specialization the company oﬀers (P-O-P and Retail, Liquid Element Vehicle Graphics, Outdoor Advertising, Event
Shock and awe
and Exhibit, Tradeshow, and Custom Printed Solutions). The crisp, colorful design is easily navigable and presents the company’s services, along with the less tangible qualities that diﬀerentiate it from its competitor, in a visually appealing style.
Being the social butterfly With the proliferation of online social networks – LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and so forth – a print provider has seemingly unlimited options to connect with its customers on a more personal level. Used properly, your company’s website is your entry ticket to these virtual networking forums. A welldesigned website will make it easy for visitors to your page to link out to the social-networking sites. And it’s a
online two-way street; as you build a following on sites such as Facebook or Twitter, your “fans” will be pushed back to your home page to learn more about you. One company that has embraced social media and, in turn, branded itself as a serious print provider – with a seriously funny side – is Akron, Ohio-based Dr. Wraps (drwraps.com). Specializing in vehicle wraps, the company clearly enjoys its work, and wants its customers to enjoy it as well. Case in point: its spoofs of the famous TV host and painter Bob Ross as well as the Gilligan’s Island cast, plus an “Accepting New Patients” icon – all of which figure prominently on their home page. But, it’s not all just fun and games for the Dr. Wraps team. The company maximizes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace as a means to connect with its customers, with links to each of its social-networking sites clearly visible in the bottom left of the home page as well as each site page. Dr. Wraps “Tweets” links to its project gallery and keeps its Facebook content current by posting images of recent jobs. Also of note: The company has links to its radio commercials directly on the home page. Zentx Media Group (zentx.com) of Freeland, Michigan, takes a more sedate approach to its personal branding, while still capitalizing on the interactivity of popular social networks to position itself as a market leader. From its home page, users can link to the company’s YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook pages. It also hosts a separate blog (zentx.wordpress.com) that serves as a repository of information for current and potential customers. From company news and advice on topics such as creating eﬀective tradeshow graphics, to feedback on frequently asked car-wrap questions, how to care for your vinyl banners, and much more, Zentx delivers useful content while branding itself as an expert in the wide-format digital printing field (read more about using your website as 22
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
an education tool below). Supplementing the blog is the company’s YouTube channel, which allows viewers to put a face with the name of members of the Zentx team, while they watch videos on myriad topics, including a fourminute clip, “All About Substrates.”
unique graphics campaigns – some created by the company, and others sourced from other companies to serve as case studies. Accompanying each distinct project are notes about how and why it was eﬀective. It’s important to note that the company is up front in telling visitors that, in this section, “Cranky Creative did not execute all of the campaigns above. These are used for example only to assist in the generation of creative advertising ideas.” Consider also Think Big Solutions (thinkbigsolutions.com), the Denver-area print provider whose blog (thinkbigsolutionsblog.com) has been providing customers with information on wide-format printing, social-media marketing, “green” print technologies, and insight into cross-marketing programs since 2008. Supplemented by a frequently updated Twitter feed and Facebook page, Think Big uses its online presence to inform customers about printing and various other strategies and tactics for marketing.
Go the extra mile Your company’s website is first and foremost a sales and marketing tool, but that does not mean it can’t also be a source of information for your customers. By supplementing self-promotional content with general insight into topics such as the print-production process, tips for developing marketing strategies, how-to images, and videos of graphic installations, you not only educate visitors about how their design concept becomes a tangible banner, sign, or vehicle wrap, you also position your company as an expert in digitally produced graphics. The folks at Cranky Creative (crankycreative.com) finesse quite a bit of useful data into the “Products” section of their website, while still promoting their production capabilities. For example, under the “Vehicle Wraps” tab, the reader learns, naturally, that this is just one of many services the company oﬀers. What’s more, the shop underscores the value of a vehicle wrap as a marketing tool by providing statistics from the Outdoor Advertising Association, such as, “One vehicle wrap can generate between 30,000 - 70,000 impressions daily.” Where hard data is unavailable, Cranky Creative oﬀers tips to help its customers get their creative juices flowing. Its “Out of the Box” section, for instance, features a variety of
Say it in pictures The old cliché, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” couldn’t be more true than when it comes to marketing your print services online. You are in the business of creating stunning visuals – use them generously and with abandon in promoting your company to potential customers on the Internet. Avoid the temptation to tell prospects how creative and thorough your design and printing skills are. Too much text and not enough images will surely turn them away from your site. Instead, show them what you can do. Post images of your work – from
output and installation to final product – and update the photos frequently, so your customers can see the depth and breadth of your expertise. Note: It’s a good idea to get clients’ permission in all cases before posting their images. One company that has seamlessly integrated images of its work into its site is Fusion Imaging in northern Utah (fusion-imaging.com). From the home page, visitors can access a portfolio of 14 projects. Each project gallery consists of 10 or more images,
as well as a unique description of what the job entailed from a design, printing, and installation standpoint. For example, the gallery for the company’s work with the Clinton Global Initiative includes 10 unique photos of wall graphics, indoor and outdoor banners, signage, and banners implemented by Fusion, as well as a concise written description of the job. Visitors to the image gallery can see the quality of the finished work and can read concise details of the project background. For Canada’s International Name Plate Supplies (inps.on.ca), largeformat printing is just one of several areas of specialization. Potential customers can click through photo galleries in 10 distinct print categories – floor graphics, supplied products, wall graphics, vehicle graphics, sign faces, point-of-purchase, menu boards, reflective, banners, and lightbox signs – to see samples of the company’s work. A sidebar button allows visitors to link directly to the company’s online store. Merritt Graphics (merrittgraphics. com) takes the concept of proﬀering strong visuals even a step further, by incorporating sound and voiceovers to its project gallery. Its Case Study Portfolio integrates flash animation and audio descriptions to showcase such projects as the “Rolling Nature Center” bus wrap the company created for the Connecticut Audubon Society. The narrator walks customers through six colorful images of the exterior and interior of the bus, explaining details of the project – including the purpose of the campaign, insight into the design process and specs such as the media on which it was printed. A non-audio option is also available, sans-narrator, of course, with written descriptions of the project.
Give them something different
Websites are a dime a dozen and it can be diﬃcult for users to distinguish between them when they all follow a staid formula for design and content. For bold print providers, integrating
xpwraps.com a unique functionality or design element can be the most eﬀective means of diﬀerentiating themselves from their competitors. With just a glance at Xtreme Performance Wraps’ website (xpwraps. com), it’s clear the company is in the business of wrapping cars. The design uses crisp, colorful visuals to engage the reader and to relay a simple message: We wrap cars, and we’re good at it. In a regular browser, the Orlandobased XP Wraps website is predominantly pictures; were it a newspaper, the above-the-fold front page would be almost exclusively dedicated to colorful flashing images of its best vehicle wraps. Just below that, visitors can “like” the company on Facebook, read about vehicle wraps, and view a video of its latest wrap – at press time, a Spider Bike wrap of a three-wheeled motorcycle. But what makes this site stand out is a unique “Design Your Own Wrap” tool built into the site, just beneath the large graphics on the home page. There, visitors can click through any number of late model cars, trucks, boats, and box trucks from a dropdown menu, and a picture of their chosen vehicle appears on a virtual drawing board. The interactive program, billed on the site as a “vehicle wrap design studio,” allows users to browse thousands of high-resolution graphics and design elements and, with the click of a mouse, create a mock up of their own vehicle-wrap template. Happy with the design? Simply click the “Submit for a Quote” button below your image, complete the intake form, and wait for XP Wraps to call with a price. www.bigpicture.net
PRIME CUT More than 50 sources of cutters, cutting systems, and routers.
Whether you’re primarily outputting graphics onto rigid or roll materials, or a mix of each, you inevitably have a need to cut to finish the piece. But just what type of cutting equipment do you need? Will a manual cutter or cutting saw do the trick? Or, are you in the market for a cutting plotter? Or perhaps your cutting needs are a bit more detailed and intricate, so it’s a CNC router or even a laser cutter that’s necessary for your shops usual array of products? We’ve put together the following sourcelist of more than 50 companies that produce cutters, cutting systems, and routers for your perusal. We’ve highlighted a sampling of specific oﬀerings from each company (visit the company’s website for a comprehensive list of products). Note that we’ve not included units that also print (printer-cutters), but we have listed a few cutters specifically geared around laminates.
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
Advanced Greig Laminators aglinc.com The AGL Auto Trim 3 is an inline automatic web trimmer and sheeter. Capabilities include flush-edge, sealededge, and bleed-edge trimming; it also features a program to trim step-andrepeat sheets. An optional “graphics registration” package allows trimming of individual sheets from continuous rolls of printed media. Available in 27-, 38-, 50-, and 63-in. cutting widths.
including: the i-Tech line (in 24- to 60-in. sizes), which allow for cutting directly from CorelDraw, Illustrator, AutoCAD, and other programs; the Model 230 Vinyl Cutter, a 30-in. friction-feed system; the 15-in. Model 315 Sprocket-Trak; and the i-Tech Traﬃc Cutter line, specifically for materials used in highway and traﬃc signs.
Akiles Products akiles.com Its Roll@Blade 64 is a 64-in. rotary trimmer that features a self-sharpening tungsten rotary blade, an extrarigid steel guide bar, a transparent clamping bar, extra-wide working table, and more. Trimming capacity is 2-mm thick.
Alpha Systems cadmachinery.com Alpha Systems’ DXB series of routers are geared for sign and advertising shops, and for cutting and engraving plastic, acrylic, and other materials; available in sizes from 14 x 14 x 2-in. to 47 x 95 x 4 in. Its four series of cutting plotters include the GL Cutting Plotter, particularly aimed at wide-format graphics and packaging; available in sizes from 79 x 126 in. to 165 x 204 in.
Allen Datagraph Systems allendatagraph.com Oﬀers several cutters specifically designed for signage and graphics,
Anderson America andersonamerica.com Oﬀers eight series of CNC routers, including the ACut Cutting System,
an industrial cutting system specifically engineered for sign and graphics shops. The ACut system features Esko’s i-cut vision system, a watercooled router spindle, a fi xed table gantry with six vacuum zones, three diﬀerent types of knives, and more. AXYZ International axyz.com Its range of CNC Knife Systems can process a wide range of materials, from graphic foam boards and corrugated cardboard and plastic to vinyl, rubber, fabrics, and more. Each system can be equipped with several diﬀerent styles of knife head options, including: tangential knife, oscillating tangential knife, and heavy-duty drag knife. Beam Dynamics beamdynamics.com Beam oﬀers a trio of laser machining centers, including the LightCell, with a 48 x 48-in. cutting area; OmniBeam, the company’s most versatile machine for cutting a wide range of materials (non-metals up to 25mm and metals up to 2mm); and MetaBeam, for metal cutting. CET Color cetcolor.com The X-Press CNC router is designed to handle media up to 2-in. thick and includes Ucancam Routing software allowing the user to produce 3D signage. The router also supports G-code data format, which allows for the importing of graphics from other software. Available in two table sizes: 4 x 8 ft and 5 x 10 ft. Colex colex.com The Colex Flatbed Cutter is available in two sizes: 4 x 8 ft and 5 x 10 ft. The cutter features a welded steel frame, working surface with high-flow airgrid pattern, Panasonic servo motors, a triple tool head for cutting and routing, and more. A heavy-duty router spindle is optional. The company is also the exclusive North American
distributor of Fotoba cutters (see Fotoba listing). Computerized Cutters computerizedcutters.com Accu-Cut X-series routers from Computerized Cutters oﬀer 5-hp Perske spindles, steel frames, joist structured aluminum tabletops, and a dual motor-driven gantry. The X-series routers can cut steel, aluminum, plastics, wood, and more. CR Onsrud cronsrud.com Oﬀers a line of CNC routers, including its Tech series and Panel Pro series, both comprising moving-gantry-type machines. The Tech router is available only in 145 x 61-in. sizes, while the Panel Pro is available in table sizes from 5 x 12-ft to 10 x 39-ft. Onsrud also produces fi xed-table routers and inverted routers. D&K dkgroup.com The Accu II High Speed is an automatic guillotine cutter featuring a maximum web width of 32 in., a maximum material thickness of 40 mils, and a flush cutting accuracy of +/- .005 in. A stand is included. Dahle North America dahle.com Dahle’s Large Format Guillotine cutters are table-mounted and made of a laminated wood base; they feature a metal safety guard, manual clamp, and a lockable T-square that can be mounted on either end of the cutting surface. Available in 30-, 36- and 42-in. cutting lengths. Its Premium Guillotine cutters are available in cut lengths from 14.5 to 27.5 in. Eastsign International eastsign.com Its CZ series of trimmers, available in widths from 36 to 76 in., are suitable for vinyl, paper, and banners (media less than 2mm thick).
EskoArtwork esko.com The Kongsberg i-XE10 Automated is a digital system oriented toward short-run digitally printed materials. The i-XE10 Automated comprises: the i-XE10 Digital Finishing System with a digital finishing table that can accept material as large as 35 x 47 in.; the i-hs High-Speed AutoFeeder System, which auto-loads flexible materials such as paper, folding carton, pressure-sensitive vinyl, polycarbonates, etc., up to 24 x 28.5 in. and 0.25-in. thick; and the i-hs High-Speed Part Stacker System, which picks up cutouts or entire sheets from the cutter conveyor and stacks on the lift table; 16 suction-cut positions allow for any sheet size up to 26 x 31 in. (up to eight stacks). Other Kongsberg cutting tables include the XL/i-XL and the XP/i-XP/XP Auto models (available in three work-area sizes: 66 x 56, 66 x 126, and 87 x 126 in.). Fletcher-Terry Company fletcher-terry.com The FSC Substrate Cutter oﬀers a 65-in. cutting capacity, the ability to be wall-mounted or used as a freestanding unit, and a cutting-head design featuring quick-interchange blade and wheel cutting tools. Its Fletcher 3000 is a wall-mounted machine that can cut light board and acrylic (and score glass) up to ¼-in. thick and offers 48- and 60-in. cutting capacity; the Fletcher 3100 can cut hard board (MDF) up to 3/32-in. and has a 63-in. cutting capacity. Flexicam flexicam.us Flexicam oﬀers a range of CNC routers, including the S2, which is available in seven models and sizes from 50 x 100 to 80 x 161 in. The S2 features rigid steel construction, AC servo motors, and planetary gear boxes. Foster Manufacturing fostermfg.com The Evolution is a wide-format manual www.bigpicture.net
cutters & routers cutter built specifically for the sign and digital graphics market. Intended to fit any bench, the cutting system features an extruded alloy cutting base, integrated lift-and-hold mechanism, and adjustable levelers; it can cut materials up to ½-in. thick, including flag, banner, card, PVC foamboard, foamcore, and more. Available in cut sizes from 64 to 144 in. with an optional textile cutting tool. Foster is the exclusive distributor for Keencut in North and South America. Fotoba International fotoba.com Offers a variety of digital print cutters, including the XXL 500 X/Y superwide automatic cutter, which has a cut width of 210 in.; it can accommodate materials up to 0.8mm thick. Fotoba also offers: the XLD 170 automatic cutter, designed to work with rolls and sheets (67-in. maximum; up to 0.8mm thick); the XL 250/320 automatic cutter (102- and 130-in. max, up to 0.8mm thick); the Digitrim 44/64 (44- and 64-in. max, up to 0.5mm thick) with TrimManager software; and the Rollcut WR61/75 (62and 75-in. max, up to 0.5mm thick). Colex is Fotoba’s exclusive distributor in North America. Freedom Machine Tool freedomcnc.com Its Patriot three-axis CNC router is available in three sizes: 4 x 2, 4 x 4, and 4 x 8 ft. All three sizes feature: moving gantry design; welded steel tube, angle and plate framework; zaxis tool plate; industrial CNC control; 25mm rails; and industrial brushless AC servo motors. GBC gbcconnect.com The ProCut 40 and ProCut 63 are manual cutters that can cut materials up to 0.5-in. thick and 40- and 63-in. long, respectively; both feature an open-ended design, power-grip cutting head, and embedded grip strips. GBC also offers a series of Triumph26
THE BIG PICTURE february 2011
branded automatic and semi-automatic programmable cutters, programmable automatic cutters, and programmable hydraulic cutters. GCC America gccamerica.com Offers various cutting plotters, including the Expert Pro, which features 23- and 51-in. cutting widths (up to 0.8mm thick), a 400-gram cutting force, and a cutting speed of 24 in./ sec. Other cutting plotters include: the Expert 24LX, with a 23.6-in. cutting width (up to 0.8mm thick), 250-gram cutting force, and USB connectivity; the Expert 24, with a 23.6-in. cutting width (up to 0.8mm thick), and 250gram cutting force. Gerber Scientific Products gspinc.com Gerber’s Sabre router is designed for dimensional sign making, woodworking, and parts-fabrication applications. Available in two table sizes – 54 x 71.5 and 54 x 121 in. (approximately 54 x 54- and 54 x 101-in. cutting areas), the Sabre features aluminum construction, z-axis depth control, a T-vac slotted vacuum table, a material-hold and chip-removal system, and more. The company’s M Series flatbed cutter features a T3 modular cutting head with automatic tool recognition, M vision optical-registration system, and high tool force; available in 95 x 77-and 103 x 148-in. table sizes (66 x 46- and 75 x 120-in. cutting areas). Graphics One graphicsone.com The GO CutsIt Rotary Trimmer can be used with various media and is available in sizes from 18 to 78 in. Features self-sharpening blade, two clamp rollers, and double steel tube cutting suspension guide. Graphtec America graphtecusa.com Its FC8000 series cutting plotter features a maximum cutting speed of 58.5 in./sec, 4.0g maximum accelera-
tion, and 20 to 600g selectable cutting forces; can process self-adhesive vinyl as well as high-intensity reflective film, sandblast resist rubber, automotive window and paint-protection films, Amberlith and Rubylith, and other media types. Available in five sizes, from 30- to 72-in. (media widths). Image Edge Cutting Systems imageedge.com The Image Edge substrate-cutting system can cut up to 10 ft in length. It includes four edges, two cutting heads, stabilizer dowels, and blades. The cutting mechanism is pressureactivated and automatically retracts. Image1Impact image1impact.com Sooper Sign Saws are vertical cutting saws available in 50- to 74-in.-cut versions. All saws come with hold down bar, quick stop gauge, backer board, blade knife kit, and more. Ioline ioline.com The SmarTrac I/S is a wide-format sign cutter designed to handle a variety of rollfed materials and jobs ranging from vinyl signs to pouncing and sandblast mask. It features the company’s SmarTrac technology and a powerful servo motor, a high-speed processor with one-megabyte buffer, adjustable downforce pressure, pinchwheels, and more. Available in four cut widths: 25, 31, 41, and 49 in. Keencut keencut.com The SteelTrak is a vertical cutter geared for the sign maker and is capable of cutting rigid (including acrylic up to 6mm) and semi-rigid (including foam-centered board up to 13mm) materials; can also cut glass and aluminum with optional accessories. Available in 65- and 84-in. cut lengths. Also offers a range of cutter bars and its Arc Rotary Cutter in 42- and 52.5in. models. Foster Manufacturing is the exclusive distributor.
Ledco ledcoinc.com Ledco’s Automatic Cutter is designed for use with the company’s Thoroughbred Laminator, but it will adapt to fit other similar equipment, Ledco reports. Cuts up to 30-in. wide with a maximum cutting thickness of up to 50 mils. Mimaki USA mimakiusa.com Mimaki’s CF3 series of flatbed cutting plotters are available with a choice of user-changeable cutting heads, including M head (router), R1 head (reciprocal cutter), and TF2 head (tangential cutter). Available in 122 x 63- and 39.3 x 63-in. cut-area sizes; maximum cutting depth for the router is 1.97 in., for the reciprocating cutter is 0.78 in., and for the tangential cutter is 0.39 in. FineCut 7 software for CorelDraw and Illustrator included, as is Mimaki Plotter Manager. Also available: its CF2 series of flatbed cutting plotters, and four different series of roll/sheet cutting plotters.
in three sizes: 30, 54, and 65 in. All three cutter sizes feature: laser-based optical sensors for automatic job recognition and accurate alignment; a dual-roll support system; full-color LCD touch screen; and an automatic sheet-off mechanism incorporating a rotatable blade with four cutting sides. The cutting force is adjustable from 20 to 450 grams; cutting speed is adjustable up to 1000 mm/s; maximum media thickness is 1 mm. Also available is the Mutoh SC-Pro 1650, a 64-in. cutter plotter. Neolt USA neoltusa.com The Electro Foam Trim Plus is an electric foam trimmer available in vertical and horizontal configurations, designed for heavyweight rigid media. It features a fixed blade cutting head with variable speed that operates at 6 in./second on the cut; 5-, 10-, 20-, and 30-mm cutting heads are supplied for scoring, single-pass, or bi-directional cuts. Will cut various substrates including rigid foam board up to 1.18 in.- or Sintra up to 0.5 in.-thick.
MultiCam multicam.com Offers a full line of CNC cutting systems, including routers, knife systems, plasma and laser cutters, and more. Its Digital Express high-speed digital registration, routing, and knife cutting system is available in a range of table sizes, from 60 x 60 to 80 x 120 in. It comes standard with a highflow vacuum table and the company’s MultiVision digital registration system, a digital camera/software-based system that can visually recognize media-registration marks and automatically compensate for skew, distortion, and image drift. Up to three knife cutting heads can be configured with quick-change cartridge options. It’s recently added an automatic tool changer for spindles.
Océ North America oceusa.com Océ’s ProCut Digital Cutting Tables are suitable for roll media, sheets, or rigid substrates up to 1.97-in. thick, and can be utilized on output from any manufacturer’s printer. The tables are paired with ProCut Software to create automated finishing systems that can be used to optimize basic trimming tasks for rigid and flexible media; they can also be used to finish more complex jobs such as contour-cut P-O-P displays, production-quantity decals, and structural projects. Table sizes range from 51 x 63-in. to 128 x 124-in. All tables feature an aluminum-composite table top, a self-adjustable vacuum system, and advanced industrial dust protection.
Mutoh mutoh.com Mutoh’s Kona Cutters are available
Orca Photonic Systems laser-cutting.com X-Y laser systems and laser pattern
cutter systems. Its X-Y systems are available in shuttle-feed, conveyorfeed, and flatbed configurations. Systems can be equipped with laser powers ranging from 25 to 400 watts. Roland DGA rolanddga.com The CAMM-1 Pro GX-640 cutter is designed for vehicle graphics, window tints, signage, stencils, pinstriping, and more. It can accommodate media up to 72-in. wide (65-in. cut width) and features the company’s Quadralign technology to precisely read crop marks on preprinted data. It offers three cut modes, front and rear loading, automatic sheet-cut function, an overlap function for thicker media, CutStudio software, and more. Also available is the GX-24 and the GX Pro (300/400/500) series of cutters. Roland also has a line of VersaCut print trimmers engineered specifically for production graphics shops: the VersaCut manual trimmer available in 44-, 68-, and 100-in. widths and is designed for flexible and rigid substrates; and the VersaCut CR crank-assisted trimmers, offered in 48- and 72-in. sizes, which can cut Sintra, Gatorfoam, Coroplast, and other rigid substrates up to 1/2-in. thick. Rosenthal Manufacturing rosenthalmfg.com Offers a trio of graphics trimmers, including the Smartrim, the Smartrim TriVision Trimmer, and the TriVision Slitter. The Smartrim TriVision Trimmer enables the user to convert master rolls of graphics or press sheets into any width and length strips required for signage and graphics. Also manufactures a range of sheeters. Rotatrim rotatrim.com Vertical sheet cutters, trimmers, autosheeters, and more. Designed for signmakers, large-format digital print shops, and exhibition/graphic designers, the Excalibur 5000 vertical sheet cutter is available in 48- >38 www.bigpicture.net
Neschen Launches EnviroScape Mural Plus Neschen Americas has added EnviroScape Mural Plus to its conVerd Presented by Neschen line of environmentally responsible media products; this represents Neschenâ€™s first foray into the wallcoverings market. Incorporating 105 post-consumer waste and FSCcertification, the new media has a 6-mil thickness and a weight of 4.87 oz/sq yd. EnviroScape Mural Plus is compatible with solvent, latex, and UV-curable inks, and can be used for murals, wall dĂŠcor, P-O-P signage, and frontlit and window displays. It meets the California 01350 standards for indoor air quality, a pre-requisite for LEED credit certification; its fire rating is ASTM E-84 class A, Neschen reports. Roll sizes are available in 42-, 54-, and 60-in. x 150 ft, sample rolls are also available. NESCHEN AMERICAS neschenamericas.com
Imagin Perforated Window Media from MacTac MacTac Graphic Products has introduced Imagin Perforated Window Media WP129, a one-way visibility fi lm used to transform indoor or outdoor window surfaces into graphical canvases on one side, without sacrificing significant visibility on the other. A 6.0-mil soft white vinyl fi lm coated with a black semi-permanent adhesive, WP129 is intended for wide-format eco-solvent and solvent-based inkjet. It can be used for various shorter-term indoor and outdoor window applications, including buildings, some vehicles, retail and P-O-P displays, architectural graphics, and more. It features 41/59% perforation with a hole diameter of 1.6 mm and a distance between holes of 2.4 mm, which enhances visibility of window graphics, the company reports. Available in 54-in. widths. MACTAC mactac.com
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
New Canvases for Epson’s Signature Worthy Collection Epson America has added three new canvas products to its Signature Worthy collection of media. Epson’s Exhibition Canvas Gloss, Exhibition Canvas Satin, and Exhibition Canvas Matte are engineered for professional photographers, artists, fine-art reproduction houses, and print-for-pay businesses. All three are built on a polyester and cotton blend that’s specially coated to produce vibrant colors as well as rich, deep blacks and tonal gradations; the heavy 21-mm poly-cotton canvases can be easily stretched and coated. The new canvases are available in roll widths of 13, 17, 24, 44 and 60 in.; 17 x 22-in. cut sheets are also available. EPSON AMERICA proimaging.epson.com
FlexCon ‘Greener’ WindowDeco and FlexMark FlexCon has introduced two “greener” alternatives for two of its at-retail applications for windows and counter mats: WindowDeco and FlexMark floor art. Both products are phthalate-free and are produced with less solvents, providing a smaller carbon footprint, the company reports; both are also UV-printable. For removable window and counter-mat applications, WindowDeco 6270 (white), 6274 (primed white), 6272 (clear), and 6276 (primed clear) polyolefins are designed to offer performance and printability similar to vinyl. All are low-tack, 3.6-mil, and suitable for indoor and outdoor. FlexMark floor art 6673 is a 3.4-mil flexible white polyolefin-base film with a removable pressure-sensitive acrylic adhesive that bonds well to commercial PVC tile, some ceramic tile, sealed concrete, and linoleum. It’s intended for use with FlexMark floor art OP6607 overlaminating film to exceed industry standards for slip-resistance performance, says FlexCon.
New Aurora Knit Fabrics Aurora Specialty Textiles Group has introduced several knit fabric styles for sublimation transfer and UV-cure printing. The new additions to the company’s Northern Lights Printable Textiles line include: Heavy Knit 9 FR, Stretch Knit 5 FR, Soft Satin Knit FR, Ultimate Knit FR, Durable Flag FR, Universal Flag (which is also printable with direct disperse inks), and, most recently, Triple White FR. All of the new styles are made from 100% polyester and meet the NFPA 701 small-scale flammability standard. Triple White features a triple-layer construction, no pinholes, and good light-diffusion properties. Applications include tradeshow graphics, window graphics, P-O-P, frontlit displays, indoor and outdoor sign and banner, and more. Width options range up to 126 in.; standard roll length is 100 yd. The company also has announced that it is now the exclusive distributor in the US and Canada for Stork digital textile inks for direct and transfer sublimation printing. Size options will include 2-kg bulk cans and cartridges, 1-kg bags, and 220-ml cartridges. Stork’s Acid and Reactive textile inks will also be made available through Aurora.
AURORA SPECIALTY TEXTILES
EskoArtworkâ€™s WebCenter 10 EskoArtwork has announced WebCenter 10, a new version of its online collaboration and approval tool for the print-supply and packaging chain. Features include: a fast and accurate online viewing tool to reduce hardcopy proof iterations; management capabilities for all project-related digital assets including technical drawings, artwork, text, logos, images, and other elements; metadata-based search tools; a redesigned user interface; a new approval module that allows customers to design and automate multilevel approval cycles; a stronger, bi-directional connection with its Automation Engine to extend workflow automation outside the walls of the printshop; and more. ESKOARTWORK esko.com
GPAâ€™s FSC-Certified Paper for Indigo GPA has added an eco-friendly addition to its line of Ultra Digital papers for HP Indigo presses: 100% PCW Recycled Uncoated Pressure Sensitive Paper. The 50-lb recycled facestock is made with 100% postconsumer waste fibers, and is FSC- and Green Sealcertified, acid-free, lignin-free, and process chlorinefree (PCF). It features a general-purpose permanent adhesive and an 80-lb kraft liner that has 10% PCW. The paper is compatible with a variety of finishing processes, including die cutting, perfing, scoring, UV coating, laminating, and foil stamping. Available in 12 x 18-in. sheets. GPA askgpa.com
Perfect Resize 7 Software from OnOne OnOne Softwareâ€™s new Perfect Resize 7 is based on Genuine Fractalsâ€™ algorithms for enlarging images to any size or resolution necessary while maintaining fine image details, the company reports. Ideal for creating poster or wall-sized prints, as well as enlarging cropped photos, Perfect Resize allows for the resizing of images up to 800% and beyond. It can be launched directly from the desktop as a standalone application or from within Photoshop (as well as Lightroom or Aperture in the Professional Edition). Other features include: the ability to crop and resize images in a single step and resize entire folders of images; new Smoothness and Sharpness controls; a Loupe Tool for an instant preview of the resized image quality; a Gallery Wrap feature (Professional Edition only) for quick preview of gallery-wrap results; improved tiling; and more. Price: $159.95, Standard Edition; $299.95, Professional Edition (resizes CMYK images, integrates with Lightroom and Aperture). ONONE SOFTWARE ononesoftware.com BigPicture PrintBillboards HalfPgHorizAd FINAL.pdf
Four Pees’ PrintFactory 4.1 Debuts Four Pees has introduced the latest iteration of its PrintFactory largeformat production suite, version 4.1. The new PrintFactory features: • Advanced automation and integration through JDF: The PrintFactory Editor prepares a job for production and produces JDF instructions directly to the PrintFactory or third-party RIP; the PrintFactory RIP consumes JDF and processes a job according to the embedded specs; PrintFactory oﬀers diﬀerent possibilities to automate tasks and integrate with Web-to-print and MIS/ERP systems; JDF-based variable-data template fi les, populated with the actual variable data in the RIP, can be used by PrintFactory. (Note: JDF and variable-data capabilities are add-on options.) • Expanded Editor functionality: features include a Finishing Tool, a Combine Tool for True Shape Nesting, and preflighting. • A revamped Calibration and Profi ling Wizard for more accurate, more productive, and more economic printer profi ling; also features new quality/ink consumption presets. FOUR PEES fourpees.com
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THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
MightyLam 2700HC Redesign The redesigned 2700HC Laminating/Mounting machine from Banner American features hot and cold lamination with heated rollers, release liner take up, and an adjustable feed table guide. The machine can accommodate digital and offset output up to 24-in. wide and ¼-in. thick. The standard 3-in. core adapters allow it to handle 1- and 3- in. core thermal films and 3-in. core pressure-sensitive films. Its “heat assist” mode selects a heat level best to increase adhesion and speed for slow-curing pressure sensitive films. Price: $1599, including 1-in. film-supply mandrels. Options include 220V. BANNER AMERICAN PRODUCTS banam.com
Accessories for Rose Displays’ ZipLines Rose Displays has introduced two accessories for its ZipLines: ZipLine Mounting Plate and ZipLine Poles. With the new Mounting Plate, ZipLines can be hung from any plaster ceiling, allowing ZipLine adjustable cables to be used with most store ceilings, whether standard grid or flat. ZipLine Poles allow a store’s staff to quickly and easily install or remove ZipLines safely without the need for ladders. The ZipLine anchors lock securely onto the ceiling grid or the mounting plate with one twist of the pole. ZipLine Poles are available in two configurations: OneUp for graphics with one point-of-hanging, or BiClops for those with two points-ofhanging. Both configurations come in lengths for ceilings of up to 10, 14, or 18 ft in height.
Falconboard™ is the stronger, flatter and greener alternative to foamboard. With striking printability and versatility, Falconboard is the perfect choice for screen or digital direct printing, as a mounting medium, or for custom displays and POS. Its unique hexacomb design allows superior toughness with less inner core density. So cutting is easier, for cleaner, more accurate, more attractive die-cuts. Best of all, it’s from Pregis Hexacomb,® the global product quality and service leader in high performance, engineered, 100% paper solutions for over three decades. Falconboard’s unparalleled strength and sustainability make it your preferred alternative to foam board and other paper-based options.
Stronger. Flatter. Greener. Better.
ROSE DISPLAYS rosedisplays.com
For more information, visit falconboard.com, or call us at 877-692-6163.
© 2010 Pregis Corporation
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Our MightyPrint™ n io t c e ll o C s n io s s e r p x E s e r u t x e t e c fa r u s 3 s ha ! y it iv t a e r c e ir p s in to
Onyx certified for Z6200: Onyx Graphics has achieved HP certification of its RIP software to drive the HP Designjet Z6200 photo printer. The Onyx driver will be available to licensed users of Onyx ProductionHouse, PosterShop, and RIPCenter version X10 RIP software packages. onyxgfx.com
New panoRama Film: Continental Grafix has introduced panoRama Film, a non-adhesive 70/30 perforated polyester film featuring lay-flat properties and greater temperature and UV stability; the company also has added 1-in. panoRama Tape (2-sided, optically clear). continentalgrafix.com
Contex new e-commerce site: Contex has launched an e-commerce website for the company’s consumables, accessories, software, and replacement parts. Visitors to the site can find items for Contex’s wide-format scanners, scanner-operating software, raster editing and conversion software, and more. usaparts.contex.com
FDC product selector: FDC Graphic
The next job you spec, think EnCore™ EnCore – formerly Bienfang – is the most innovative new name in the industry, and your exclusive source for MightyPrint™ Expressions, the specialty foam boards pre-textured to add new dimension to big print jobs.
Spec MightyPrint Glossy: This rigid foam board’s shining white surface adds a photo-sleek, reflective quality to images being printed ending the need for messy spot varnishes and laminates.
Spec MightyPrint Canvas: It’s surfaced with artist's woven canvas to give printed images the appearance of fine paintings. And, it eliminates the time-consuming process of mounting specialty papers to foam board.
Spec MightyPrint Kraft: The warm coloration and kraft paper surface gives this rigid foam board its versatility and the economies of one-step printing.
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A Division of Elmer’s Products, Inc. 2020 West Front Street Statesville, NC 28677 www.encoreproducts.com © 2011 Elmer’s Products Inc.
Films’ new Digital Product Selector is now available. The 4-page productselection tool is designed to help printers choose the print media, banner, and overlaminating films from FDC’s roster for any application. fdcfilms.com
Wide Flex 6 from Arlon: Arlon has released its new Wide Flex 6, a white digitally printable flexible polymeric PVC designed for large sign faces where durability and uniform light transmission are important. Available in widths from 54 to 196 in., and in 105- and 164-ft lengths. arlon.com
Caldera releases v 8.01: Caldera has launched version 8.01 of its range of RIP products. The latest version now features a Debian-based Linux distribution and also integrates Pantone Plus as well as a complete N-color printing workflow. caldera.com
Plastiprint PVC-Free Cling Film: The new PVC-Free Cling Film from Plastiprint is a 3.5-mil white polypropylene film coated with a cling coating; it can be cleanly removed and re-applied and leaves no adhesive residue behind on the applied surface, the company reports. Laminated to a 138-lb liner. plastiprint.com
inside output <14 – and every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed – your contracts and fi lings are only as good as your willingness to pay attorneys to enforce them.
Reorganization, off-the-shelf, alliances To pursue R&D without sacrifices to your core business takes organization. When two ambitious R&D projects threatened to disrupt our business, the principals of our company chose to reorganize. One of my partners took over my role as company president and CEO so I could refocus some of my time. And, our production manager stepped up to general manager while other managers worked to better define their (and others’) roles in a manner consistent with all of our strengths and weaknesses. We’ve all delegated more, with a better outcome, and we’re all working harder and smarter. There are ways to tame R&D’s HR and financial burdens on your company. One is to develop a new product or service by starting simple and avoiding significant in-house development costs. Some of our most successful creations have involved developing products using commercial oﬀthe-shelf (COTS) materials. COTS components can be combined or configured for a specific use. Our company’s most successful COTS developments have come from customer requests and have led to some really good runs of being the exclusive producer of specific products – all of which translates into a competitive advantage, with higher sales and better margins. Developing some of our most successful products has been as simple as taking a common base adhesive-backed vinyl and using an overlaminate not normally associated with that product. Another product combined a French tent fabric with a tweaked liquid overlaminate. In these instances, the whole became greater than the sum of its parts. Keep in mind that trial-and-error and field testing are the research components to developing COTS-based products. You must do suﬃcient testing to ensure that these products, when combined, will live up to the customer’s reasonable performance expectations. It’s also important to remember that, just because an R&D project is beyond your financial or technical capabilities, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You simply need to find a strategic ally or partner for the project. Recently, for example, our company was challenged to come up with a printed architectural glass. It needed to be a tempered safety glass with the image encapsulated, and it had to be viewed equally well from both sides and in either back- or front-lighting conditions. When an extensive search could not find a product that met these performance parameters, we realized it had to be developed. I had an idea how to do it, but it was beyond our company’s capability. After more than a month of phone calls and a failed attempt, I found a perfect ally in the owner of a glass company in Southern
California. As a result, within two months of starting the project, our newly developed Dual View glass was installed in three Texas restaurants. Neither company could have created this on our own, but together we had exactly what was needed. And, by sharing the cost and eﬀort, it didn’t place too big a burden on either of our companies. Because we’re first to market, our margin for Dual View glass is better than any of our core products. Best of all, our client is happy and his loyalty and confidence have been rewarded. Such strategic alliances have been central to our other R&D projects, as well. For instance, manufacturers have formulated liquid laminates and inks specifically for us. Also, our partners have shared the cost of developing products and protecting the intellectual property rights, provided the sales and marketing eﬀorts, and conducted the field-testing. We have recently developed two technologies with a partner that, other than prototypes, we will not manufacture. By the way: Past failures have taught me to be more cautious about selling untested products. I also occasionally say “no.” And we now require customers to take responsibility if they insist on us creating and providing them with new and cutting-edge developments.
Inventing amazing things Is it worth the time, cost, and risk to invent your own future? Absolutely! But if you choose to go this route, keep in mind there are two worlds at play. The first is rational and can be under your control. It involves you and your team’s imagination, planning, timing, method, and implementation. The second world is intangible: luck. Most days, I would rather be lucky than good. Although our own shop’s accomplishments have been modest, R&D has resulted in the greatest satisfaction, commercial success, and fun we’ve had in this business. I look at the developmental pioneers of our industry and recognize they have set a great example. Their ingenuity has ultimately benefited all of us. With a touch of creativity, planning, teamwork, eﬀort, timing, and luck, amazing things can be invented.
Up Next COMING UP IN THE BIG PICTURE Look for these articles in upcoming issues: Previewing ISA Las Vegas Sustainable Printing: Green is Good Software for Business and Management Top Vehicle Wraps & Graphics
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<15 brutal and hard-hearted, but the worst message possible is one of leniency on someone being caught. That just gives the green light to others in your organization to do the same. Pressure to commit fraud, as I mentioned earlier, comes from an individual’s personal financial circumstances, which may be very diﬃcult to manage as an employer. But there are some practices that can help. Cultivating an “open-door” policy within your business can often serve as assistance to an employee with financial problems. If an employee feels comfortable discussing some financial struggles they might be having at home, it will at least allow you a chance to help them alleviate some of the “pressure” they are experiencing. Formal policies such as payroll advances or employee loan programs can also provide a struggling employee with options other than eventually committing fraudulent activities. Controlling the opportunity for fraud is the best way for your business to prevent it, and is accomplished through the separation of duties. This practice becomes much easier the larger your financial or accounting department is. For a smaller business with only one bookkeeper or accountant, it’s challenging, but not impossible. For example, no organization should have the same person recording bills, paying the bills, and reconciling the bank statements, and certainly not signing the checks. Even with one accountant, you can implement a policy in which someone else in management is reviewing the check run and signing checks, paying attention to any missing sequences of checks, physically verifying voided checks, and questioning payments to vendors you don’t recognize. If you only have one accountant and you don’t have anyone else inclined to reconcile your bank statement, you may want to consider paying outside accountants to do this each month as a control measure. As you add accounting personnel, you have a better opportunity to mitigate the risk of fraud by having diﬀerent people completing various accounting responsibilities such as dispensing petty cash, receiving payments from customers, and other responsibilities that grant access to cash.
Take the necessary steps now Regardless of how big or small your company is, make a decision now to establish practices to help prevent fraud. Fraud rarely begins with a bold, dramatic act of stealing a significant amount of money. Rather, it begins with someone feeling some financial pressure, rationalizing their behavior, and taking advantage of an opportunity to steal a seemingly insignificant amount of money from your company. From there, the problem inevitably grows with time. Establishing controls in your business doesn’t represent mistrust in your employees. It represents good, smart business practice.
fine art <19 choice process can be particularly challenging. And the shop offers custom ICC profiles tailored to the specific needs of the particular artists and for all of the media they might be interested in using. Although the process can be time consuming, Indian Hill believes this is what sets the shop apart and keeps clients coming back. Indian Hill takes on all steps of the printmaking process in-house. Capture is done on either a Microtek i900 flatbed or an Imacon (now Hasselblad) Flextight scanner. When working with a client directly, the shop relies solely on soft proofs via its Eizo monitor, unless a hard copy is requested, which is usually only when the chosen paper has properties that can affect the final output. Indian Hill utilizes two printers for final output: the 12-color d’Vinci Hi Fi Jet Fine Art Printing System for more-demanding papers, and the Epson Stylus Pro 9900 for work less than 44-inches wide. The d’Vinci system mates a 54-inch Roland Hi Fi Jet printer with the ErgoSoft StudioPrint RIP and an ErgoSoft ColorGPS profiler. Although the shop has also worked with publishing companies to gain clients, it finds that building relationships directly with the artists is the most beneficial and rewarding route to take. Another tool used to attract new customers is the shop’s course offerings. The shop provides one-on-one instruction for photography and printing through its mentor program, which can be in person or virtually thorough Skype. According to Schaub, Indian Hill’s philosophy is quality over quantity. The husband-and wife-owned company prints small volumes, but focuses on attention to detail and one-on-one attention, which Schaub believes is enough to attract fine-art clientele: “We are artists working for artists.”
Lizza Studios: early adoption pays off Beginning as a company offering desktop publishing and graphic design, Pennsylvania-based Lizza Studios (lizzastudios.com) purchased a Betterlight digital scanning back, which put it on the map as a high-quality film scanning shop. “I was chasing a market that still wanted high-quality scans, but wanted to go digital,” says owner Bob Lizza. “At that time, I started to get one or two fine-art clients a week and decided to purchase a ColorSpan printer, which was very archaic, but it was still enough for me to enter the world of wide format.” After about three years of experimenting with wideformat technology, Lizza found that there was a large enough market to pursue giclèe printing and became one of the first adopters of the Cruse CS285ST Digital Fine Art Scanner with a 60 x 90-inch scanning bed. Because of the scanner’s faster speed and efficiency, says Lizza, the shop’s profit margin grew substantially and backlog was eliminated thanks to not only the investment in upgraded technology, but the shop’s new dedication to better serving
A New Eden, by Stephen Schaub (original: multiframe panoramic photo). Print provider: Indian Hill Imageworks. Print: 25 x 96 inches, on uncoated Japanese Haruki paper, using the d’Vinci Fine Art Printing Platform. the fine-art community. The risk Lizza took by being an early adopter of the Cruse paid off dramatically, he says. The shop, a restored roller rink, began attracting national and international attention. “Cruse used us as the demo location, which brought in people from all over the world and attracted so much publicity.” The shop is primarily dedicated to serving fine-art clients, but, says Lizza, “Because of the economy, we take whatever we get. We don’t actively seek commercial clients, but we certainly don’t turn them away.” Another large portion of the business is dedicated to commercial “décor” scanning. The shop scans large materials such as onyx stone, which is far too fragile to be used for purposes such as tabletops or counters; so Lizza scans the material to then be used to create mock onyx, strong enough for a wider range of uses. Other materials scanned include wood and exotic veneers. “Our staff is small. I am the only production person, which means we must only chase after jobs that earn the largest profit margin. For us, that’s scanning.” Today, the shop has put the ColorSpan printer out to pasture, and now utilizes Epson printers, including several Stylus Pro 11880s and a Stylus Pro GS6000. For fine art, the shop strictly prints with aqueous inks, and turns to the GS6000 for outdoor banners and wallpaper projects. Lizza’s key to success in fine art printing? “A staff with a real passion for the art of fine-art reproduction.” Britney Grimmelsman is associate editor of The Big Picture magazine. www.bigpicture.net
cutters & routers <27 and 63-in. cut lengths and can cut rigid materials up to 10mm-thick. Safety Speed Manufacturing safetyspeedcut.com Manufactures vertical panel saws, table saws, and panel routers. Its 3400 Vertical Panel Router provides production routing capacity on a 10-ft vertical steel frame. Maximum cross cut is 62 in.; maximum cut thickness is 1.75 in. Optional Mid-Way fence. Safety Speed also offers nine different panel saws, including the C4 (for 4 x 8-ft sheets) and C5 (for sheets up to 64-in. wide) designed for shops with limited floor space. Saw Trax Manufacturing sawtrax.com Saw Trax offers an array of panel saws, including the Sign Makers Panel Saw and Mat Cutter Combo Machine. The Sign Makers saw can cut a variety of materials – rigid as well as softer materials – up to 1.75-in. thick in all directions with saw or knife. Available in 52-, 64-, 76-, 88-, and 100-in. cross cuts. ShopBot Tools shopbottools.com ShopBot’s PRSalpha gantry-based CNC routers are intended for wood, plastics, aluminum, and other materials, and are available in sizes from 48 x 48-in. to 144 x 60-in. (nominal cutting area); cutting speeds up to 600 in./min; step resolution of 0.0004-in.
to cut and trim vinyl, digital prints, cardboard, paper, and fabrics. Offers a 36-in. cut; built-in blade cover. Summa USA summausa.com Its OPOS-CAM contour cutter was specifically developed to increase workflow efficiency when contour cutting printed graphics, signs, labels, vehicle wraps, and decals. It features advanced camera optics, Summa’s CameraControl recognition software, the Summa TrueTangential cutting head, and a pressure-sensitive control panel. Top cut speed of 54 in./sec; available in 54- and 64-in. versions. Summa also produces: its Summa S Class T and S Class D series of cutters (30- to 64-in.), and its SummaCut series of vinyl and contour cutters (30-, 48-, 54-, and 64-in. models). Teckwin teckwin.com The Teckcut CNC router is available in two sizes: as the Teckcut 1525, with an active cutting area of 98 x 61 in., and as the Teckcut 2030, with a cutting area of 122 x 81 in. Both routers feature an 8-Kw HSD spindle motor, auto tool change, high-performance vacuum bed, digital servo/ballscrew drive systems, and more. Maximum traverse/cutting speed is 79 ft/min.
Signwarehouse signwarehouse.com The EnduraCut is a 24-in. desktop vinyl sign cutter designed for short-run graphics; available in four different bundled versions. Also offers the Vinyl Express Q Series of vinyl sign cutters in 24- to 60-in. models; 50in./sec top speed.
Thermwood thermwood.com Its SignRouter series of CNC routers is specifically designed for signage and P-O-P graphics. The SignRouter 43 features a 61 x 121-in. fixed table, a 10-hp spindle, and an 11-position automatic tool changer; it can machine flat and three-dimensional signage using wood, composites, chip core, rigid foam, plastics, non-ferrous metals, and other materials. An i-cut Vision camera and software are optional.
SpeedPress Sign Supply speedpress.com Its Rotary Mini Cutter can be used
Universal Laser Systems ulsinc.com The PLS6.75 is a free-standing
THE BIG PICTURE february 2011
platform designed and engineered for light manufacturing operations and batch production. It offers a work surface area of 32 x 18-in. and is particularly suited for manufacturing and production environments. Vision Engraving & Routing Systems visionengravers.com Offers three models of CNC routers/ engravers in its lineup: the 2525, the 2550, and the 4 x 8 Large Router. The 2525 features a 25 x 25-in. table while the 2550 features a 25 x 50-in. table; both have aluminum T-slot tables, a heavy-duty gantry, and the ability to cut 2 x 4-ft sheets of material, including wood, metals, plastic, acrylic, Sintra, sign foam, and more. The 4 x 8 Large Router features a 4 x 8-ft routing area and Vision Pro software. Vytek Laser System vy-tek.com Its laser cutters are available in various models. The G/X Laser Cutting and Engraving series utilizes sealed CO2 laser technology (100, 200, or 400W power) and comes in three sizes (working area): 50 x 50, 50 x 100, and 64 x 125 in. All sizes can accommodate materials up to 3-in. thick. Zünd America zund.com The Zünd G3 Digital Cutter is available in various sizes, from 52 x 63 to 126 x 125 in., and it can cut materials up to 2-in. thick. Users can combine various modules and tools to take on various graphics projects; the Universal Module accommodates tools ranging from a universal cutter, pneumatic oscillating cutter, and kiss-cut tool to a creasing tool for corrugated cardboard and a driven rotary tile for fibrous materials. Material-handling systems include a conveyor belt, universal and shaft-based roll off units, and a sheet feeder.
Supplying product information since 1996. Contact your Account Manager today at 800-925-1110 to showcase your company here.
Encore Products 34 www.encoreproducts.com Epson America Inc. 6-7 www.epson.com Fisher Textiles 39 www.fishertextiles.com Flora Digital Printing 30 www.floradigital.com Hewlett-Packard 5 www.hp.com INX Digital International OBC www.inxdigital.com Mimaki USA, Inc. 3 www.mimakiusa.com Mitsubishi Plastics Composites IBC www.graphic-al.com
Mutoh America Inc. IFC www.mutoh.com Palram Americas 1 www.palramamericas.com Pregis Corp. 33 www.falconboard.com Specialty Graphic Imaging Assn 32 www.sgia.org ST Book Store 39 www.bookstore.stmediagroup.com Teckwin International US 36 www.teckwin.com Ultraflex Systems 31 www.ultraflexx.com
Replacing LeBron “Producing this banner into one piece and then handling such a large banner is very difficult. The finishing, installation, and positioning must be exact.”
THE BIG PICTURE FEBRUARY 2011
The Client Sherwin-Williams The Player Fusion Imaging, Inc. (fusionimaging.com) Tools & Supplies Durst Rho 500R, Durst UV Inks, Seattle Textiles woven mesh. The Job The people of Cleveland were less than thrilled when basketball star LeBron James departed their beloved NBA Cavaliers for warmer climes in Miami. All reminders of “King” James had to go – perhaps the most notable of which was the 10-story Nike banner featuring LeBron that hung from the Sherwin-Williams building downtown. Jumping at the chance to show their commitment to the city, the folks at the manufacturer of paint and coatings worked quickly to replace the Nike ad with one of their own. The result: an oversized tribute to Cleveland featuring a black-and-white image of the city’s skyline. It was only natural for Sherwin-Williams to contract with Fusion Imaging of Kaysville, Utah, which had also produced the former LeBron Nike graphics, to execute the job. Production The creative team at Sherwin-Williams used InDesign to render the wrap graphics. Fusion artists manipulated the artwork to comply with their specific finishing requirements. An electronic proof to the client was sent for content approval using Fusion’s proprietary “Inside Track” proofing and tracking system; a small production proof on the same media on which the final banner would eventually be created also was executed. Once the client was satisfied with the image, Fusion output the fi les onto 14 panels of five-meter Seattle Textiles woven mesh using its Durst Rho 500R and Durst UV Inks. With an average print time of 750 square-feet-per-hour, printing was completed in roughly 33 hours. Finishing was done with the shop’s Fiab RF Welder; it took Fusion’s sewing crew more than 100 hours to transform the panels into a single banner. Measuring 10-stories tall x 210-feet wide, the finished output tipped the scales at 2600 pounds. A 10-person Fusion team spent almost 12 hours installing the graphics. “It takes a lot of planning for the logistics,” says Wayne Boydstun, COO at Fusion. “The hardware and attachment method had to be engineered to handle such wind loads and the Cleveland winter conditions that can be very hard on a banner of this size.”
GRAPHIC-AL™ DP has the rigidity of an aluminum composite material, in a super light weight with thinner aluminum skins (0.005”) and a foamed plastic core. It offers excellent flatness and superior smoothness. Easily cut with a saw, substrate cutter or router, GRAPHIC-AL™ DP delivers the added benefit of a substrate suitable for flatbed printers and UV curable ink that is perfect for indoor or outdoor signage and displays. You’ll get out-of-this-world results with GRAPHIC-AL™ DP. take signage to another dimension with GRAPHIC-AL™! for more information, call 1.800.422.7270.
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The Business of Wide Format. In this issue: Fine-Art Finesse - Attracting artistic clientele; Making Your Mark Online; How to Avoid Fraud;...