Unusual Wide-format Applications to Spark Your Creative Juices
It’s easy to get stuck in the signage rut when printing wide-format graphics, but many print service providers are producing some truly eye-catching and unusual work. A few vendors at PRINTING United Expo shared some of the more interesting applications they’ve come across to help you start thinking outside of that proverbial box.
Jay Roberts, Roland DGA’s product manager, UV Printers, notes that he has seen some real innovation from customers in recent months. “We’re seeing graphics being printed onto cement blocks, nylon rope, protective tubing, doors, and even toilet seats. Some of the unusual applications I’ve come across recently include UV printing onto motor parts for helicopter engines, and sound-proofing material for high-end movie theaters. The application that sticks in my mind, however, is when we used one of our UV flatbeds to print onto wood with the goal of simulating a raw steak. The graphic results were so vivid and realistic that, without actually touching the piece, you would swear it was an actual steak.”
Bob Honn, director, Marketing Support, Canon USA, was impressed with a recent application that took advantage of some wide-format printer’s ability to build up ink, creating a more tactile experience. “The most unusual wide-format application I have ever seen was the use of our flatbed printers to create a series of tactile fine art ‘paintings’ for a month-long exhibition for the visually impaired in Spain. Each of the tactile works was specifically designed to be touched by the ‘viewer.’ These pieces were not dimensionally accurate, but instead exaggerated the physical changes within each work to bring them to life for those who would never be able to touch the original, priceless works of art. The ability to freely touch a sensory-heightened version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers or Monet’s Water Lilies can bring art to life for those who can never see it.”
Innovation doesn’t just have to be coming up with unusual ideas, however. Even finding new ways to use substrates that might otherwise have been discarded can be a potentially lucrative new idea. Sydnie Shepland, the digital and print marketing lead for Durst, notes that for her, “an unusual application that I’ve seen was a PSP using a Web-based order portal to allow custom photo images printed on reused metal sheets. It stood out so much because of the fact that they were taking full advantage of the ‘on-demand’ opportunity of digital printing, as well as printing on a used substrate — being green is always attractive.”