Opportunities abound for shops with white-ink capabilities.
He points to the custom wall mural the company produced in 2008 for the redesign of the Latin-themed Conga Room nightclub at LA Live as one example. “The designer wanted a gold and white wall mural in a pattern that complements the wood panels in the main room’s ceiling,” Preble recalls. The geometric honeycomb pattern was printed directly onto gold mylar film for a result he considers superior to what can be achieved with current metallic-ink technology.
“When you can print with white and then add other colors to silver, gold, or other metallic mylar film, it gives you that iridescent quality that I just haven’t seen yet with metallic inks,” Preble maintains.
On a more recent project, Astek was asked to print several thousand square feet of a gradient pattern of white dots for lobby panels in the Spin restaurant at the Las Vegas City Center. The clarity and quality of printing with white ink was just what the job required, according to Preble. “We printed the dot patterns on acetate, which was then laminated between a pair of glass panels,” he says. “Gradients can be tricky to print on some printers, but with our Durst 320 and its white-ink capabilities, it was no problem at all.”
Each new project seems to spawn demand for more white-ink services. “Right now, probably 50 percent of the digital work we do involves white ink in some way,” he estimates. “We’re able to say to our clients, ‘Whatever you want, we can make it for you.’”
G-Way Marketing Gymnasium: one-stop shopping
Wide-format printing has been a standard offering from G-Way Marketing Gymnasium (gwayonline.com) in Norwalk, Connecticut, since 1994. As full-service marketing solutions provider, the company offers a complete menu of traditional and digital print services – whatever clients require to get their message out and seen. “We’re like a Kinko’s on steroids,” says president David Cudiner.
When G-Way finally added a flatbed printer with the purchase of its new HP Scitex FB500 last year, he considered it primarily a cost-savings measure. The new printer allows G-Way to print directly to a variety of material up to 5 x 10 feet and 2.5-inches thick.
“As much as 25 percent of our business is in wide-format printing today,” Cudiner points out. “We bought this press to eliminate the need for mounting and finishing. With our flatbed, we’re now printing direct to all types of media.” He says the system is already paying for itself in eliminating all costs and labor associated with laminating, lower costs of ink, and increased efficiency.
But Cudiner and crew are just beginning to explore the benefits of another feature of the FB500: the ability to print with white ink. “Ninety-five percent of the work we do will not require white ink, unless it’s a specialty project,” he says. “But, I think we have to have that capability.”
He sees strong potential using the white feature for producing window graphics. “People want both sides of their window cling printed, so it can be seen inside and outside. We’ve got a lot of clients who are looking for a knockout white.”
G-Way also has experimented with using white ink for printing directly to ceramic tiles, printing on doors, producing comps on fluted cardboard, and printing photographs on black boards. And the shop is planning to use the system to print color graphics directly to hockey pucks.
As clients learn of G-Way’s white-ink capabilities, they’re exploring this option for their promotional needs. In one of the most recent tests, Cudiner printed an 18-inch knockout image of a new watch on a clear Dura vinyl, printing white behind 4-color, to highlight the graphic. “Our client wants to display the watch in a window at one of their stores as a test to see if it increases sales,” he reports.
Cudiner believes the ability to print with white, now possible on the FB500 flatbed, equips his company to better accommodate clients, whatever their requirements. “Our goal is to be that one-stop-shop, their complete solutions provider and problem solver,” he concludes. “We’ve got to have all the options. Now, being able to print with white ink gives us the ability to lock our clients in, for all their needs.”