Unusual Wide-format Applications to Spark Your Creative Juices
It’s easy to get stuck in the signage rut when printing wide-format graphics, but there are some print service providers out there doing some truly eye-catching and unusual things with the same equipment you can see on the show floor today. A few vendors shared some of the more interesting applications they’ve come across to help you start thinking outside of that proverbial box.
Jay Roberts, Roland DGA’s (Booth C8930) product manager, UV Printers, notes that he has seen some real innovation from customers in recent months. “We’re seeing graphics being printed onto cement blocks, nylon rope, protective tubing, doors, and even toilet seats. Some of the unusual applications I’ve come across recently include UV printing onto motor parts for helicopter engines, and sound-proofing material for high-end movie theaters. The application that sticks in my mind, however, is when we used one of our UV flatbeds to print onto wood with the goal of simulating a raw steak. The graphic results were so vivid and realistic that, without actually touching the piece, you would swear it was an actual steak.”
Bob Honn, director, Marketing Support, Canon USA (Booth N1009), was impressed with a recent application that took advantage of some wide-format printer’s ability to build up ink, creating a more tactile experience. “The most unusual wide-format application I have ever seen was the use of our flatbed printers to create a series of tactile fine art ‘paintings’ for a month-long exhibition for the visually impaired in Spain. Each of the tactile works was specifically designed to be touched by the ‘viewer.’ These pieces were not dimensionally accurate, but instead exaggerated the physical changes within each work to bring them to life for those who would never be able to touch the original, priceless works of art. The ability to freely touch a sensory-heightened version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers or Monet’s Water Lilies can bring art to life for those who can never see it.”
Innovation doesn’t just have to be coming up with unusual ideas, however. Even finding new ways to use substrates that might otherwise have been discarded can be a potentially lucrative new idea. Sydnie Shepland, the digital and print marketing lead for Durst (Booth N1043), notes that for her, “an unusual application that I’ve seen was a PSP using a Web-based order portal to allow custom photo images printed on reused metal sheets. It stood out so much because of the fact that they were taking full advantage of the ‘on-demand’ opportunity of digital printing, as well as printing on a used substrate — being green is always attractive.”
And these are just three ideas to help spark your creativity as you walk the PRINTING United show floor. Don’t be afraid to get in there and really see what these presses are capable of, and be fearless when it comes to experimenting with new ways to use the technologies to create innovative new applications that will help your customers stand out from the crowd.
Toni McQuilken is the senior editor for the printing and packaging group.