In-plant Scores With Ice Rink Wall Wrap
When it came to investing in its HP Scitex FB500 wide-format printer, Liberty University’s print shop did its homework.
“We took all of the data we had from 2014 on what was paid to outsource all of the different wide-format projects, such as Coroplast signs, vinyl banners and pole banners, and looked at how much it would cost us if we did it in-house,” explains Ronnie Ray Young, print shop manager. “We saw approximately 60% savings on average for these wide-format jobs, and we estimated that within five years, we could pay for the cost of the printer.”
It was data analysis like this that motivated the Lynchburg, Va., university to start up its in-plant a short two years ago to save money for the private, nonprofit school. Since then it has grown to 10 employees operating equipment such as an HP Indigo 7800 digital color press, a Graphtec vinyl plotter and a full bindery stocked with Standard Horizon equipment, including a StitchLiner 5500 saddle stitcher, a BQ-270V perfect binder and an AFC-566FG folder.
Adding the HP FB500 hybrid UV printer has allowed the in-plant to be more creative and flexible. Currently, it produces 90% of all the campus signage on this equipment including campus event signs, parking signs and wayfinding signs. The remaining 10%, including oversized wall graphics and vehicle wraps, is still outsourced as needed.
Unique Wall Graphics
Earlier this year, the in-plant undertook an ambitious project using the HP FB500 when it printed and installed unique wide-format wall graphics as part of the university’s new ice rink, which opened in October 2015. A member of Club Sports had seen a similar wall wrap at another college and liked it.
“Originally, he wanted something painted, but we provided this graphic for him at a price that fit his budget and gave him the ability to update it in the future,” says Young.
The marketing team designed the graphics and the print shop implemented the Club Sports vision. “We did several tests with different media until we found the right match to make this happen,” says Young. The wall graphics were printed on MACtac’s Roughrap by IMAGin. The 48˝ wide by 108˝ tall panels allowed for a ½˝ overlap from panel to panel. The print shop handled the installation of these graphics and has plans to complete another three walls on the opposite side of the hallway to complement the five walls already completed.
There were some challenges, Young admits. “We had some issues during the installation due to the walls being cinder block, but we were able to find a tool for our heat gun that has a foam roller and allows us to heat the material and press it into the pores and mortar joints of the wall with ease,” he reports.
The in-plant was able to save Club Sports more than $15,000 — approximately $3,000, on average, per wall — on the five walls already produced.
“All of the university loves this application and we are getting requests to do the same thing in several more areas,” says Young. “The Hall of Fame portion of the wall, where past players are recognized, is good for the monetary donations from alumni as well as recruitment for the program.”
Additionally, the print shop was able to use its Graphtec vinyl plotter to completely overhaul the university’s wayfinding signage across the campus, from exterior wayfinding signage, parking signs and handicap signs. Previously this type of work would have been outsourced and it would have cost upwards of $800,000. By keeping this in-house, the total cost for the project was approximately $120,000.
Currently, the in-plant is doing all of its wide-format finishing manually, but there are plans in the works to purchase additional postpress equipment — a wide-format laminator, a wide-format automated digital cutting table and sewing machines — that will help to automate the finishing process as well as open up the print shop to be able to offer new applications to the university.
Related story: New In-plant Helps Liberty University Thrive
Denise Gustavson is the Editorial Director and Special Projects Editor for the Printing & Packaging Group, which includes Printing Impressions, packagePRINTING, In-plant Graphics and Wide-Format Impressions magazines, among other brands. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Wide-Format Impressions.