by Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 2
Package printing and prototypes continue to gain favor when it comes to the newest and hottest ways to use digital flatbed printers—especially wide format devices over 24 inches in width. Applications with similar materials are found in the display and point of purchase (POP) space. Print service providers (PSPs) skilled at printing to fluted boards or corrugate board create product for aisle caps, end displays, skirted boxes, and other display-type items.
Courtroom to Boardroom
Kansas City, MO-based LARGEPRINTING.com was once known as Digital Design, LLC. The company began in July 2000 with two employees, two computers, and a laminator in a 750 square foot space in the Kansas City River Market. Business was good. The company grew over the years and moved three times, from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet and finally to its current 33,000 square foot home that holds 19 employees.
Initially, the PSP focused on the legal industry in the Kansas City metro area. “At the time, trial exhibits were used widely in courtrooms. Attorneys paid top dollar for high-quality exhibits and super-fast turnaround times. But, trial technology evolved to Microsoft Powerpoint and video exhibits soon after we opened,” explains Tina E. Burnham, director of marketing, LARGEPRINTING.com.
The company needed to reinvent itself and quickly grew familiar with the advertising market. Burnham shares how it “found its products and services a natural fit for advertising needs.” The move allowed the PSP to expand its client base to engineering, marketing, retail, and municipal governments with most of the customers based in the Kansas City metro area, but a reach that extends across the U.S.
100 percent of LARGEPRINTING.com’s work is completed by digital print. “Digital printing offers high-quality prints and fast turnaround times. We produce small to large runs affordably. We print and ship on demand reducing the need for maintaining inventory and lowering our customers’ overall costs. In addition, our fulfillment team manages shipping and installations so our customers don’t have to,” shares Burnham.
Approximately 80 percent of the work conducted in house involves some type of POP—which includes, but is not limited to posters, custom cut stand ups, wall graphics, floor graphics, banners, stickers, table tents, shelf talkers, retail displays, product packaging, backlit signs, three-dimensional props, laser cut images, cut vinyl, vehicle wraps, and decals. It offers a range of large format printing and cutting solutions from four-inch kiss-cut stickers to ten-foot banners, additive manufacturing, and vacuum forming. These are used for clients’ prototypes, displays, and packaging requests.
“One of the keys to our success is working directly with our clients’ marketing departments and designers during the design process. Depending on the needs of any project, we conduct site surveys of the installation spaces to ensure fit and function for the final design. In many cases, we’re able to provide design advice that identifies not only the best materials for the project, but also maximizes media utilization. In this way, we help our clients manage costs and deliver exceptional displays for their customers,” says Burnham.
Stable of Hardware
Maintaining a high rate of success means using trusted technology. First is the Agfa Jeti Tauro H2500 LED, which is a 2.5-meter wide, six-color plus white UV LED hybrid inkjet printer that achieves speeds of up to 2,960 square feet per hour (sf/h). It features continuous and automated feeding for rigid and flexible substrates. The printer can be upgraded to include an automated board feeder, which allows processing of up to four boards automatically.
A second is device is the HP Inc. Latex 3200 roll-to-roll printer, which printers a 126-inch roll width at 830 sf/h. According to Burnham, the printer enables the company to meet growing customer demands for shorter deadlines, better quality, and longer runs.
Both devices run with respective OEM ink sets. Reasons for choosing OEM versus third-party ink are color gamut, fade resistance, and adhesion across a variety of substrates. “Because they are both OEM inks designed specifically for each machine, they maximize adherence to the media and provide the richest color printers,” adds Burnham.
The printers are complemented by three Kongsberg Precision Cutting Systems cutters and a Kern Laser Systems OptiFlex, which is capable of metal cutting, acrylic fabrication, and high-speed engraving.
With the company’s large portfolio of digital hardware, the team was poised for a banner year in 2020, unfortunately when COVID-19 hit “the bottom fell out.” As an essential business, LARGEPRINTING.com remained open and created new-to-them-products like face shields, desk shields, and other protective barriers.
“Our cutters ran non-stop it seemed for weeks at a time to meet the demands for these products. Parking and directional signs for curbside pickup along with wall and floor graphics kept our printers busy, too. However, with few people going into offices and retail stores, the demand for in-store visual displays dropped,” notes Burnham.
The 2021 Holiday Rush
As we entered 2021 and businesses began to open back up, retail traffic increased and LARGEPRINTING.com’s traditional POP business returned, with more in-store displays and wall graphics orders. Further in the year, more requests for wallpaper, window graphics, and point of sale items like displays and shelf talkers were completed.
One display recently made at the company was for one of its largest marketing customers for the 2021 holiday season. The company reached out to LARGEPRINTING.com with an idea to showcase four holiday-themed plush toys paired with a related book. One box would display each of the four combinations separately in the same finished piece.
The finished piece was a 16x16x16-inch box, with each side a unique scene that highlighted a different character and book combination. Since the completed box had to be packaged and shipped to the client, the design had to keep in mind both affordable shipping and construction as well as remaining visually appealing on arrival.
POP and displays cross over into packaging and prototyping fairly easy, as shown in the example of work LARGEPRINTING.com completed for a marketing customer’s holiday 2021 campaign. The PSP’s on demand workflow allows it to remain nimble—poised to create anything from a POP display to protective barriers—and not be boxed into a corner.
Oct2021, DPS Magazine