Solar Imaging Produces Superwide Murals for the Columbus Airport
Seamlessly covering 820 square feet of textured wallpaper without damaging what’s underneath can prove to be a significant challenge, as Columbus, Ohio-based Solar Imaging (solarimaging.com) discovered while working on an extensive re-branding campaign at the Port Columbus International Airport.
For the project, Solar was asked to create two wall murals, 410 square-feet each, which would be displayed in two of the airport’s terminals.
“The mural project was a little bit out of the ordinary for us because we were covering existing wallpaper,” says Gina Spring, sales representative for Solar Imaging. “Typically we do wall murals on just a painted drywall surface. The biggest challenge, in this case, was making sure the vinyl was going to adhere properly, because the client wasn’t going to take the existing wallpaper off, and they didn’t want to damage what was already on the wall.”
Ryan Partnership, a promotions company with offices in Columbus, created the initial design and provided vector files for the job, which Solar color-corrected to match PMS colors.
Solar took it from there, turning to its 60-inch Mimaki JV3 with solvent inks to output onto 3M IJ8624 graphic film for textured surfaces. The murals were printed in four panels each, 205 square feet per panel. Total print time was roughly two days, Spring says, plus a 24-hour curing time for the inks. Finishing—comprising an Avery luster-finish laminate and the company’s GBC laminator—took an additional day.
Solar chose the 3M film because it’s specifically designed for textured surfaces, says Spring: “Because the walls that we did in the airport have a textured wallpaper on them and they weren’t going to be taking it down, we had to find an adhesive-backed vinyl that stuck over top of it. It had to conform to every little indentation in the wall.”
Solar also executed the install work. An important lesson learned along the way was to allow more time for installation on the back end: “Since we literally have to heat every square inch of that vinyl to have it adhere properly, it was very time consuming and we were only able to do about one mural per day,” Spring says.
Solar’s two-person team worked four days last October, during the airport’s “slow time”—midweek—to install the project. It’s expected to be on display for up to a year.
Solar also produced 40 Vista System displays for shuttle buses, two vestibule wall murals at 200 square feet each, and six fabric “column socks” that zipped up one side, and were included in our feature on soft signage (“The Soft Parade,” February 2010).