Digital print media - November 2015

Doro Tape (UK) - Printable media

Floor graphics on ASLAN DFP46Graphics on boat deck with ASLAN DFP46MP300Indoor floor graphics with AslanDFP47

Michael Ingram, Sales Director, Dorotape (UK), reveals that the digital print media sector has evolved significantly in recent years, particularly where vinyl is concerned.

“Looking at digital vinyl specifically, things have changed very much in recent years, and I’d say particularly the level of price has been the primary thing,” he says. “The technology has changed in the industry, which when combined with the reducing cost of some of the commodity products like the monomeric self-adhesive vinyls, has had a knock-on effect that’s ultimately resulted in cheaper prices for the end-user.”

Dorotape stock a number of products to satiate increasing demand in a changing market, such as a number of bespoke window and glass digital print vinyls. These include a range of glass etch effect vinyls in both wet and dry apply.

“We have a fantastically optically clear polyester film with a solvent-based adhesive, which are commonly used for high-end corporate identity and branding jobs, as well as to create high-impact retail graphics,” adds Michael. For signmakers with the capacity to print in white ink, there is the opportunity to print an image with a white background to make it really stand out. The product, called Perfectly Clear, is therefore ideal for such high-impact window graphics, and is applied with a solvent-based adhesive. “It’s so clear, you cannot tell it’s there - it looks like the glass itself is printed.”

Also available is a film called Micro Tac, which is a dryapply glueless film that doesn’t rely on cling or adhesive at all. Instead, it has more of a nanostructure on the reverse side of the film that grips to the window. “Some people refer to it as a gecko film, because the technology is the same as the foot of a gecko that allows them to cling to smooth surfaces even on the vertical,” adds Michael.

Easy-change graphics are all the rage

With clients in retail and hospitality sectors particularly looking to use window and wall graphics for promotional purposes, there’s a keener interest than ever in products that can be easily installed and just as easily removed.

“With anything applied to glass, if it’s got a regular adhesive on it can potentially be a problem to take off,” says Michael. To combat this, Dorotape stock a number of niche speciality products that can reduce this problem. The graphics have no problems sticking, but can easily be removed to allow for quick changeovers. “With a quick wipe down of the glass, the new graphics can go on.”

For signmakers, vinyls need to look good, be practical for application, and straightforward for removal. These are not just where window displays are concerned, but also for another increasingly popular application – flooring. Dorotape stocks Aslan floor graphic vinyls that can be used indoors, outdoors, and even on wet floor areas such as leisure centres.

Reflecting on the current state of digital print media, Michael not only discusses the quality of the products available, but also the variety. “It never ceases to amaze me at how hard it must have been in years gone by to create something quickly and cost-effectively compared with how easy it is today - things have just advanced so much,” he says. “There is even a market now for digitally printed coffins. Digital print media from the moment we’re born is impacting every part of our lives – and now deaths!”

Grafityp UK Ltd

Roland VersaCAMM VS 540iGrafiPrint Airport Floor GraphicsAirport Exterior using GrafiPrint

“Digital print media offers a world of full colour signage and advertising possibilities to sign makers,” says Debbie Astle, Marketing Manager, Grafityp UK Ltd.

“It allows for the use of photographs or other outstanding artwork to be incorporated into signs, vehicle graphics and wraps, banners, floor graphics, pavement signage, exhibition graphics – in fact any signage and can be produced quickly on a variety of substrates with various finishes and lifespans.”

Grafityp offers a range of digital print media in the GrafiPrint and GrafiWrap ranges to cater for every application type, and this media is manufactured by their parent company in Belgium to the strictest regulations, which conform to REACH standards. Grafityp have been manufacturing print media for almost 20 years, and their offerings include premium printable monomeric, polymeric, special formula cast and PVC-Free self-adhesives. Various features of the printable vinyls include grey or extra grey adhesive, which prevents show-through, and air escape adhesive, which aids in application and bubble prevention. “There is a range of corresponding laminates available too, which protect and enhance prints to keep them looking pristine, protect from UV rays and increase the lifespan,” says Debbie.

The ever-increasing array of products on offer aims to cater to the ever-rising interest in using digital media and substrates to create signage. “The interest in digitally printed media continues - as they say, a picture paints a thousand words! Some of the smallest sign making businesses have invested in a digital printer to offer this service alongside existing cut vinyl signage,” says Debbie. “Being able to offer this service and provide outstanding colour prints, light box graphics, signs and garment transfers means they will soon recover the outlay cost of a printer.”

Grafityp stock a wide range of garment films for digital printing produced by Siser in Italy, and these are an alternative to the wide range of CAD cut materials on offer. After printing, the design can be heat transferred onto garments and other textiles in the normal way. Grafityp also supply Roland DG machines, with print and cut machines such as those in the popular Roland VersaCAMM ranges being an excellent investment for sign makers interested in digital print media. “The VSi range allows for the contour cutting of prints, labels, decals as well as garment films, and is available in various ink configurations, too.”

The variety and flexibility of digital print media

According to Debbie, digitally printed signage has become increasingly popular in the retail trade.

“What better way to show off your products than on full colour window graphics, vehicle wraps on delivery vehicles, taxis, buses and trains, floor graphics or posters?” she says. “The list of options is endless.” Grafityp digital print products have been used in a number of interesting ways, such as on the tail of aircraft, racecars, boats, on the floor of an airport, and even on external applications on buildings. Grafityp take pride in taking on board customer feedback, which in turn shapes the production of all digital printing and vinyl products. For example, in response to an increasing focus on sustainability from sign makers and end users alike, one of their most recent additions is Colibri GEF environmentally- friendly printable films and laminates (as well as a cut vinyl range). “These films are a perfect alternative to regular films when being “green” is a required specification,” says Debbie.


poster printed on Synplas Inkjet PolypropyleneIJSP 180 VC eco solvent print exampleGraphics printed with an HP Indigo printer

In order to provide sign makers with more flexibility than that of just straightforward vinyl, DEP stock a range of durable digital print products that are ideal for use in a variety of applications.

Among them are specialist coated films and self-adhesive films designed to make it easy to install temporary signage, such as window decals for seasonal use in retail.

Numerous manufacturers are offering clear films that can be applied to shop fronts or in-store onto glass, and removed easily when the promotion or the sale is finished. “The great thing about digital print media is it gives you as a sign maker so much more flexibility,” says Richard Kirchner, Head of Marketing. “It enables you to do much shorter runs, so for example, you can design and print just one of something if that’s what is required.”

DEP will be launching a polypropylene synthetic material with an eco-solvent coating, along with metalized coated polyesters. “We see this as something that sign makers would be interested in for things like window displays,” he says. “Window films is another area that seems to have grown hugely over the past two to three years.” In addition to retail, industries like pubs, clubs, hotels, gyms and leisure centres are also fast adopters of this type of signage.

DEP has also begun to develop removal adhesive systems, which allow for simpler removal without being too easy to take off. It’s striking this sort of balance that will give signmakers better options with more durable substrates. Other innovations include tear-resistant materials that can go through eco-solvent printers for banners, and eyelet-free materials that can make it quicker to make and recycle this sort of soft signage. “One of the problems with vinyls is they tend to have to be eyeleted, and you can’t recycle those very easily,” says Richard. “This material we’re using for banners can be recycled straight away without having to worry about removing the eyelets.

We have materials that are easily compatible with a flatbed UV printer, so signmakers can do some really interesting designs.”


Francesco De Ruvo Sales Area Manager

For Francesco Deruvo, Sales Area Manager, APA Spa., the rise in variance in digital print media has enabled sign makers to enter new territory when it comes to the graphics they can produce.

“The real change that digital print media has created in the industry is that it removes the ‘imagination limit’ that used to be there before,” he says. “Before if you needed to express a visual concept, you had certain limits when it came to things like colours. Now, digital print allows the customer to think about the project or a concept and visualize it, and recreate it from the mind to the computer, and from the computer onto a digital print support.”

Digital print media has enabled sign makers to create graphics that catch the eye of the public, and is commonly used to create high-impact advertisements. While window and POS displays are popular, Francesco reveals that digital wrapping media is also having a huge influence on the market. “Wall graphics are also really growing at the moment,” he adds, noting that APA provides a number of vinyls that can be used to create these kinds of displays. Vinyls to create floor graphics are also rising in prominence. “A sign maker can create a graphic that can be protected by a laminate, and allow people to walk on it without damaging the print,” explains Francesco.

Vinyl and versatility

It can be seen that clients in the retail and hospitality sectors have been early adopters of digital print media graphics, and these displays are therefore commonly associated with these sectors.

While this is certainly the case, Francesco notes that just about any company can reap the benefits of this type of signage. “These may be the sectors in which we’re seeing this the most, but it really is my opinion that this is a market that has no limit,” he says. “All sectors can utilise and take advantage of digital print media.”

To cater to these different sectors, APA has the AP/990-WL roll, a vinyl that so far has proved to be a great success. “It can be applied on the walls to create a graffiti effect,” says Francesco. “That’s something that has been used a lot and something that allows you to create a wonderful, realistic effect using either a gloss or matt laminate.” They also carry grip laminates that can be applied to the floor and walked on without being damaged. At APA, there is an increasing focus on listening to customer demand so as to be able to develop highly specialised print media products that allow sign makers to create whatever they need. “When it comes to digital print media there are many different opportunities, and what we are trying to do more and more is develop products that are going to be dedicated to specialised use,” he says. “This has already happened with the wall and with the floor, along with what we could call the “normal” kind of digital print medias that are already used on flat or curved surfaces.”

With a number of films for print and lamination already available, APA are committed to developing this product range to further help sign makers explore, design and invent in the field of digital print signage.

Soyang Europe - Vast growth in printing on textiles.

Floor graphics created with G Floor SoyangRolls of Intercoat in FactoryPrinting on rolls of Intercoat

According to Andrew Simmons, Sales Director at Soyang Europe, there has been a significant increase in the use of digital print media in hospitality applications.

“Looking at the exhibition and hospitality sectors in particular, we’re seeing a big market for both indoor and outdoor promotional media that has grown significantly over the past two years,” he says. “There’s so much more choice now for sign makers with materials for wallcoverings and flooring media, so the possibilities are open-ended.”

Simmons also notes that Soyang has seen vast growth in textiles, which are being used for interior design, exhibition graphics and retail point of sale. They consequently stock products suitable for these and other common signage applications, as well as substrates that are suitable for short-term promotional graphics and for more permanent installations that last from three to five years.

One key benefit of digitally printed textiles is ease of portability, as sign makers don’t have to worry about using boards to cover large areas and can instead use something that can fit into a frame system and be folded for transport. This is particularly beneficial for retail installations, as graphics can be applied easily by store workers ensuring quick turnaround for promotional campaigns and low labour costs as fitters are not required on site. “The simpler it is to swap out graphics,” says Simmons, “the more opportunity there is to reprint new messages, which of course is a great way of driving print business too.”

Soyang Europe scours the world to come up with new products and present them to sign makers. “Most print companies would be able to use products such as our So Magic wallcovering range and move into markets like hospitality and tourism straight away, because they are fairly straightforward applications,” says Simmons. “Installing wallcovering is as simple as it is at home and with our products printable on solvent, latex and UV machines, there’s a great chance a sign maker will already have the technology to produce a whole new revenue stream.”

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