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Specialty Films & Laminates Open Doors for Print Providers
By Bill Schiffner
In the past six months, a number of manufacturers have come to market with a host of new textured laminates and colored vinyl, targeting the vehicle wrap and retail markets. Many of these products are being used to enhance the final printed piece.
"We have been witnessing a major influx of new laminates, wrapping films and textured films reaching the market in the last year," reports Paul Roba, NA technical manager, Graphic and Reflective Solutions at Avery Dennison. "These products and finishes are new creative tools for designers to add new elements to their graphic creations. Some of these products, seen at the 2011 SGIA Expo in New Orleans, include various skin patterns, like snake, ostrich and leather; and textures, including carbon fiber, brushed effects, geometric patterns; and various finishes such as matte, metallic and special effects," he explains.
Textured Laminates Turning Heads
When asked about the growing interest in this segment of the market as of late, Kucera says that, like any trend, it's hard to pinpoint just where it started, or why. "I'm sure part of it is due to trends in home furnishings - Mid-Century Modern, harking back to the wood grain and leather textures of your grandparents' house, or carbon-fiber and metal finishes for a techno appeal. Once again, though, clients are looking to make their products stand out. Personally, I think the materials are a lot nicer than they once were. The vinyl is higher quality (better clarity, durability and longevity) and the finishes, much crisper. They handle the same as a standard overlaminate, so they're just as easy to apply, with exactly the same equipment," she adds.
New Opportunities in Finishing
He says the new opaque products in a variety of colors and finishes have only been showcased on vehicles; however, the application options in retail and architectural locations are unlimited. "The product can bring cost effective special effects to a designer's creative concept. A retail design could have a backdrop of a crocodile skin pattern, to contrast the organic textures available in new purses, belts or shoes. In addition, some of the more geometric patterns offered by manufacturers provide a unique tactile depth of image effects for unique promotions, and long-term retail displays."
Roba adds that a designer or a converter could distinguish themselves by using the special effect laminates, films and wrap products with taste and style. "The products in and of themselves can be overwhelming when used too much, but can add flair to compliment a design."
More Vehicle Wrap Apps
"These new specialty textured films can offer products, such as accent graphics for point-of-purchase (POP), high-end cut vinyl applications and partial vehicle wraps for a true custom look," says Jason Yard, training specialist, Graphic and Merchant Products at MACtac. "Paint wrapping is a growing trend that has vertical markets within the automotive customization industry. It is more cost effective than painting, can be cleanly removed and, with all the unique finishes out there, can provide more vehicle custom options," he adds.
Last fall, MACtac launched the Tuning Film Series, which includes matte black and white, and five carbon fiber choices in black, white, silver, graphite and gold. "New additions in the line for 2012 include black leather, silver moon and three pearlescent colors. These films will be mostly used for vehicle customization both outside on hoods and spoilers, and inside as dash overlays. They also will find a market with consumer electronics devices such as laptops, gaming consoles and cell phones," Yard reports.
Yard says that shops that currently offer traditional advertising wraps can easily use these specialty films to compliment their services. "More and more 'tuners,' or car guys, are aware of the growing trend of custom vinyl wrapping, and will be asking for them. By offering a higher end looking product, they set themselves up as a go-to provider for all things in the 'specialty' area. Anyone can provide standard cut vinyl and printed banners, but if you get creative, these films can provide a unique offering your customers will notice," he concludes.
Expanded Service Offerings
Blackwell points out that graphic film can be very cost effective in wrapping fleets, whether traditional passenger vehicles, delivery vans or trailers. "A complex design painted on any of these vehicles would be very costly, run a higher risk of inconsistency and be a time consuming endeavor that ties up the vehicles for a long period of time. With graphic film, you never tie up the vehicle until you are ready to apply the film, and even then, it's rarely for more than a day. Many customers who choose film graphics also want the versatility of being able to change the image or branding with relative ease, which is entirely possible. A savvy business owner, with their graphic manufacturer's help, can design graphics that may keep part of the design in place for a long time, say the company logo, but have an area that is changed more often, right on the same vehicle."
No Over Laminate Needed
Roba explains that paint-wrapping films provide consumers and businesses with unique benefits. "A consumer can change the color of their car at any time, creating a new look without a big expense. In addition, the vehicle is now a non-standard color, and is protected from the elements by the paint wrapping film. Business users receive similar benefits, in that they can get a custom color to represent their corporate requirements, while protecting the vehicle's original paint surface, for greater resale value after its lifecycle is complete," he points out.
Roba also says that some of the overall benefits for wrapping a car in lieu of painting include a greater resale value as the original finish is protected. It usually costs less to paint wrap than to paint a car, reduction in volatile organic compounds in the environment and the small runs of a specific color are available for special corporate color programs (as low as five rolls 60 by 50 yards), plus color matching is available.
"Paint replacement films are making it easier for users to convert, update and customize everything from cars, boats, buildings, retail fixtures and fleet applications with small minimum quantities and special effects," he adds.
Wrapping on the Inside
Blackwell adds that 3M's two popular vehicle films are versatile in retail environments as well. "Both the texture and the color of many films in the 1080 series create an eye-catching backdrop that reduces glare from overhead lighting, while giving a hip new look to the environment."
"Retail environments have to portray the brand in a very clear and consistent way," Kucera says. "The PSP who offers a well thought-out palette of finishes to enhance graphics and POP materials can be a significant asset to designers and brand managers in creating a distinctive environment.
"Retail stores are looking toward these new textured films to accent their stores, on the walls, windows or even dressing room doors," adds Rundle. He thinks that the retail markets and opportunities are unlimited. "Integrating cut textured films into an inkjet printed job, whether on or under the printed graphics, is only limited by the creativity of the designer. This new design feature draws eyes to the message; whether on the wall in a mall or in a corporate lobby, the eye is drawn to the 3-D-like graphic. Printing on cast vinyl and laminating onto product like one of our textured cast vinyl films can completely change the look and feel of a graphic."
Ryel states that retail counter space can be transformed with a new sustainable, non-vinyl counter advertising system, available with clear matte polyolefin or clear polyester overlaminates. "Quick-serve restaurants across the country are specifying that the materials used for counter and table-top graphics must be FDA indirect food contact compliant. FLEXcon's new system not only meets this requirement, but provides a non-PVC sustainable solution."
He adds that users can transform retail wall space with three new eco-conscious WALLdeco non-vinyl products. "Now retailers can refresh their retail environments and transform wall space instantaneously, to create their ideal atmosphere," he concludes.
Custom Wall Coverings
They also have a series of textured vinyl laminates, which add depth and eye-catching effects, to make ordinary graphics extraordinary. "Ideal for indoor and outdoor use on colored vinyl, graphics or other compatible flat or slightly curved substrates, it is designed for decorative finishes for high-profile applications, such as furnishings, point-of-purchase displays, decals and signage, as well as wall graphics for the interior design, hotel décor and architectural graphics markets."
Bill Schiffner has covered the imaging industry for more than 20 years. He has reported on the many new digital technologies that have reshaped the imaging marketplace. email@example.com
This article appeared in the SGIA Journal, March/April 2012 Issue and is reprinted with permission. Copyright 2012 Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (www.sgia.org). All Rights Reserved.
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