UK Printing Company Pushes the Boundaries with Astroturf Printing
I recently came across a fantastic application, that really stood out because I hadn’t seen anyone do anything like it before: printing on astroturf.
It was created by Print Evolved, a group of shops based in the United Kingdom. “We are a group of companies with the head office based in London (Print Evolved), two other offices in Oxford (Mayfield Press / Gpex), and Tonbridge (VR Print),” says Tanya Dixon, Group Marketing Manager. “[We have an] emphasis on technology-driven workflow and innovation covering all aspects of print — digital, litho, large-format, and promotional merchandise.”
She notes that the group also has an in-house design agency, and runs a wide variety of technologies, including Heidelberg litho presses, Canon and HP Indigo digital machines, swissQprint Nyala wide-format, Kongsberg wide-format digital finishing, along with lamination, die cutting, laser motion cutting, embossing, digital foiling, PUR, and case bound binding.
For the astroturf project, Dixon notes that it was to help create the theming for a bar around the Wimbelton tennis tournament. She says, “It was a one-off project for Stella Artois at Flat Iron Square in South East London, but now we know it can be done we will test new boundaries of materials and continue to create and innovate.”
She notes that the entire team enjoys pushing the boundaries and testing new techniques whenever they have downtime, and for the astroturf in particular, the uneven surface meant keeping the design simple to ensure it came out looking clean. Although, she laughs, “I think if you ask Dan [Warner who manages our Large-Format Division], screwing all the tennis balls on were far more of a challenge!”
That said, she says, “I think the ability to print on different materials moving forward continues to force innovation and creativity, and it’s something we strive for and love to do. We will continue to experiment to provide our clients with the best available options and keep things fresh reinforcing the need for progression within the print industry.”
As for advice to those looking to replicate this unique project in their own communities? Dixon says her “best advice would be speak to the machine manufacturers to see what limitations your hardware has, ask if any of their other clients have done it successfully and how they went about it.”
From there, it’s all about experimenting — like Print Evolved, any time you aren’t running a client job, don’t be afraid to throw random materials onto your flatbed printer and see what happens. You might be surprised at the results, and you just might create the next big thing.