Integrating White Ink: Unicorn Graphics
Finding a new level.
Unicorn Graphics in Garden City, New York, is a full-line supplier of offset and digital print services. On the digital side, it’s doing its part to spread the word on the advantages of printing with white ink: A recent issue of its newsletter features an article explaining to customers why printing with white ink is such a breakthrough.
“The paper and substrates market has had a recent explosion of new products that are clear, metallic, or dark,” the article notes. “White ink is crucial to improving the look and quality of your prints on these new types of materials.”
If readers take heed, that information will allow the company to reap additional benefits from what has already proven a strategic investment: digital presses with the white-ink option. “Printing directly onto clear rigid substrates gives us a great competitive edge,” says Unicorn’s executive vice president, Robert Lee.
“Most of our competitors print on white on a separate material and then mount that to a clear substrate.”
Unicorn faced that same challenge until it purchased the EFI Vutek QS2000 in 2009. Soon after the QS200 was installed, an opportunity demonstrating the benefits of printing with white presented itself: “One of our clients hired us to print a major tradeshow display” for the women’s fashion industry, recalls Lee. “We suggested using clear acrylic sheets printed with full color and white.” The graphics gave the client welcome presence on the show floor: “They received numerous compliments on their great displays at the show,” Lee reports.
That client’s competitors as well as other Unicorn clients began requesting a similar look. Demand for printing with white on clear and colored substrates surged. Within two years after installing the Vutek QS200, Unicorn opted to add a second flatbed with white-ink capability – this time an Agfa Jeti 1224 HDC FTR in 2011.
Lee credits both presses with enhancing perceptions of Unicorn as a provider of innovative digital solutions with a distinct look. “We offer something not too many can produce,” he explains. “Not having the capability to print with white inks would not have brought us to the level we are at right now,” he says.
Unicorn continues to produce all tradeshow graphics for that first client, a women’s fashion company, and has built on that relationship. Lee now counts companies in the beauty and fashion industries as major clients for its digital services, and printing with white ink is an important part of that business.
In fact, Lee reports his company now prints with white on a daily basis. “Most of the white-ink jobs are printed on clear static clings, aluminum composites, and plywoods,” he notes. “We do a lot of work on static-cling for installation in the windows of retail storefronts.”
Certainly Unicorn’s initiative to promote the advantages of white ink, and the creativity it allows, is helping fuel demand. “We are directly involved in some of our clients’ designs, so we work closely with their designers – we make sure they understand the processes involved,” Lee explains. “They all understand the technical workings of printing with white ink.”
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