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The Great White Way

(January 2011) posted on Tue Jan 11, 2011

Opportunities abound for shops with white-ink capabilities.

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The request for a pair of super-sized iPhones came relatively late in the game, so to speak. “This was not part of the original plans we discussed,” Ratanjee says. Chevrolet needed the iPhones to draw attention to a newly launched baseball app. “They came to us with this idea just a few days before the event started, and asked if we could do this too.”

He really couldn’t say no, and confidently agreed, well aware of what’s possible with his F1631 flatbed with white ink. “I didn’t want to print and then mount a graphic onto acrylic because it just wouldn’t look as realistic. If we didn’t have white ink, everything would be translucent, and the result wouldn’t really look like an iPhone.” he says. “Printing with white ink also gives us the ability to keep a portion of the graphic clear while the rest of it is opaque.”

That mattered in this case because their plans called for installing flatscreen monitors behind the panels to serve as the iPhone screen. As gamers sampled Chevy’s new baseball app at nearby stations, their game play would be channeled to those screens. To look convincing, the size of the displays meant the iPhones needed to measure almost a full 4 x 8 feet.

Working from designs created in Adobe Illustrator, Ratanjee printed the graphics directly to Plexiglass panels, on what would be the backside of the installed image. “To make the iPhone’s Home button look believable, we took the white ink and printed a white border, then overlaid it with a black gradient.”

As a finishing touch, the panels were trimmed and the corners rounded. “Everything, including the cutting, was cranked out in one day,” Ratanjee boasts. “It was a tough project, but it showed what we can do because of the equipment we have.

“White ink is something we don’t use much, but it’s one of those things that once you do have, you’re able to do some things that can’t be done by anyone else around.”

Matrix Imaging: targeting niches
“White ink is just something you now must have, in case a client asks about it,” says Brian Freije, president of Matrix Imaging ( in Indianapolis. “And a lot do: They want to know if you have this capability, even if they don’t fully understand what it means, or how they will use it.”