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Prototypes and Packaging

(May 2011) posted on Wed May 11, 2011

Bringing wide-format options to the short-run experience.

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By Mike Antoniak

His company specializes in mockups: everything from one-of-a-kind prototypes to test a design concept to several thousand pieces required by consumer-goods companies as sales samples. Clients range from small companies to major national brands like Frito Lay, Ghirardelli Chocolates, and Welch’s; its prototypes encompass the full range of packaged goods found in the typical discount or grocery store.

“We used to print film for each color in a prototype and then manually combine those colors and assemble a prototype in a real labor-intensive process,” says Ramirez. “With digital printing we’ve taken something that would have taken three or four hours to put together and reduced that to 10 or 15 minutes.”

Phase 1’s digital prototyping services are delivered via three Mimaki JV33 54-inch printers. He finds the versatility of the units, and their ability to print in six colors, plus white and silver, enables him to match the color-palette requirements of any project. “And, we can provide our customers with something that looks just like the actual packaging, so they know what their product will look like when it hits store shelves.” The prototypes are produced with special media from C2Comp.

“When you combine the choice in media with the white and silver ink capabilities of the Mimaki printers, we’ve got the full gamut of colors we need, with all types of capabilities we just didn’t have before.” he says. “With white and silver inks, the sky is really the limit. For example, with a poly bag we can print white and a color or put white on a color so the graphic really shows up on translucent film.”

As much as the digital printers have enhanced his prototype services, they’ve also added a new dimension to his business. “What’s really interesting is how the quantities we produce have gone through the roof,” Ramirez reports. “We used to do one or two prototypes at a time, or occasionally 10. Now it’s nothing to take on a run of 300 sales samples.”

As Phase 1’s business continues to grow, it will look to adding more equipment. Ramirez says it’s already in the plans to add two more of the JV33 machines.