Flatbed Printer, Contour Cutter Help UNLV Transition to New Work
It was the day after his staff had been trained on their new EFI Pro 16h LED UV hybrid flatbed printer and Colex SharpCut cutter when Abbas Badani caught wind of a major signage job about to be outsourced: 600 signs were needed for a “smoke-free campus” campaign at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).
With barely any experience on the new equipment, the operators at UNLV Integrated Graphics Services were understandably hesitant to take on such a large job, but Badani, senior director of the in-plant, asked “Why?”
“It’s like manna from heaven,” he surmised.
So in August, the 12-employee in-plant got to work. It printed the signs 10-up on Coroplast using the new EFI Pro 16h, then cut them on the Colex SharpCut. In just two days, the shop had the signs finished. Without the new equipment, Badani told IPI Editor Bob Neubauer during a recent visit, “It never would have been possible. That really worked out.”
The in-plant’s expansion into rigid signage was born of necessity, Badani said.
“After COVID, our printing never came back,” he revealed.
Printing for campus events has remained low, he explained, as customers turn to digital methods to get their messages out.
“We had to transition to something different,” he said. Wide-format provided that new direction.
The in-plant already had three roll-fed wide-format printers, including a 54" Roland TrueVIS VG-540 eco-solvent printer/cutter that Badani had been able to acquire from UNLV’s Facilities operation. Those devices had gotten Integrated Graphics Services through the rush of COVID signage over the past two years, which drew the attention of UNLV leadership to the shop’s capabilities. This greatly helped Badani justify the cost of the new flatbed printer and cutter, plus a Colex Bubble-Free Pro Applicator. The new equipment, he emphasized, would not only save the school money but provide turnaround in days instead of weeks. Producing the initial 600-sign job in just two days only cemented the wisdom of the decision.
Since then, the in-plant has kept the EFI printer very busy printing signs and displays, including acrylic signage with stand-offs. “We run it every day,” Badani said.
One popular sign ordered by groups at UNLV is the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, with its unique shape featuring circles and angles.
“It’s no big deal for the Colex to cut it,” boasted Badani.
The in-plant also bought a braille kit for the Colex which will allow it to cut and add steel ball bearings onto signage to produce ADA-certified signs.
Despite the boom of new signage business the in-plant is enjoying, it has not abandoned toner printing. In June, the shop replaced its Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C1100 color press with a Xerox Iridesse featuring silver, gold, and clear ink capabilities. It also keeps its hand in offset with a Ryobi 3404 DI press, which it acquired from the College of Southern Nevada and uses to print jobs in the 10,000-20,000 impression range — work that was previously outsourced.
Formerly director of Penn State’s in-plant, Badani used his experience with promotional product sales there to open that line of business at UNLV. The in-plant sells branded water bottles, mugs, backpacks, post-it notes, and more to university departments, and is on target to pull in $250,000 in revenue from promo product sales this year.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.