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Integrating White Ink: Superior Graphics

(April 2012) posted on Mon Apr 23, 2012

Awareness of new possibilities.


By Mike Antoniak

click an image below to view slideshow

As a specialist in the marketing of visuals that promote products and services where they meet the public, Superior Graphics of Dallas built its success by continually adapting the latest technology to the needs of its clients. Digital printing with white is just the latest addition to its full-service approach.

“Having white-ink capabilities has opened up our portfolio,” says company president John Ehrenberger. “It has put us in the position to tell customers we can do things [for which] they had to find a specialty vendor for in the past.”

Superior’s experience with white ink began in 2008 when it brought inhouse a Gandinnovations [now Agfa] Jeti 1224 flatbed press. When the company invested in a second Gandi, the 3150X2, to keep pace with accelerating demand for digital output, Ehrenberger made a strategic decision to experiment with the white-ink capabilities of the Jeti 1224.

The company was already producing window graphics for use as retail promotions and P-O-P. The ability to print with white on window films promised new efficiency in short-run production, while allowing clients more creative options, Ehrenberger explains.

“If you’ve got a customer who wants a snowflake floating on their windows, there’s no other way to achieve that except by printing with white,” Ehrenberger says. “But printing with white also allows you to do a lot more with a window when they want a lot of clear areas.”

In the past, such window decorations might be printed and installed as individual window decals. Now, he points out, his shop can lay down the white base in the areas to be printed on a large sheet of film, print color graphics in those areas only, and provide clients with a single sheet to install.

“Often, they want the graphics printed on a static cling for installation on the interior,” he adds. “With white, we can also do reverse printing, and lay down that white so the graphic is only seen from the street, if that’s what they want.”

The company’s most recent heavy-iron addition has streamlined the process even further. Even with the Jeti 1224, says Ehrenberger, it was still a two-step process: printing the white, then printing the color graphics in a second pass. Last year, Superior purchased Agfa’s Jeti Titan 3020.

“The Jeti 3020 gave us a good combination of increased production speed, lower cost ink, and print quality dramatically better than we were able to offer in the past. It was a no-brainer: less cost to run and the results look much better.”

The press was installed last summer, and the white-ink capability arrived around Thanksgiving. Most of the window graphics that Superior produces are printed on General Formulations Clear Static Cling material. He’s also printed white on a variety of colored materials, including Plexiglas and PVC.

One recent project called for printing white on black 3A Composites Sintra for use in a retail ordering system. Number and letters were printed in white on the Titan, onto a 4 x 8-foot sheet of Sintra, then cut into 10 x 8-inch panels.

Ehrenberger has also used the Titan to print with white on 4 x 8-foot sheets of birch wood, and 1.5-inch-thick black melamine. In that project, he printed his company’s logo on the surface of a melamine tabletop, which is now installed in the company’s conference room.

“If something is flat, and less than two-inches thick, we can probably print on it, whatever its original color,” he says. “But there’s an education process that still needs to take place.

“When it comes to printing with white, you really have to use your imagination. We’ve just got to make marketing people aware of the possibilities.”

SUPERIOR GRAPHICS
www.superiorgraphics.com

For more on white ink's possibilities, check out these shop profiles:
Visual Marking System: A crossbow proving ground.
Unicorn Graphics: Finding a new level.

The Decal Source: On course with NASCAR.
PSP: Short-run solution, long-term benefits.


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