Why your shop should consider printed interior-decoration opportunities.
By Craig Miller
For instance, one option is to create magnetic walls and magnetic-receptive graphics. A client’s wall can be covered with magnetic sheeting or painted with a magnetic primer – this allows a print shop to output onto paper sheeting that comes with a metalized layer; the paper magnetically clings to the wall. We like this technology for commercial applications and children’s rooms where entire walls or design elements can be changed quickly and easily – all without any professional installation.
We’re also at the early stages of producing fabric tension walls and ceilings that have been digitally printed. These boast a variety of advantages for your shop as well as the client, including: 10-foot-wide panels; quick and clean installations; and a resultant perfect fabric wall.
Our recent purchase of a large dye-sub, flatbed heat press was made with interior decorating in mind. We’re developing dye-sublimated architectural sheet-metal panels by sublimating digital images into the polyester powder-coated surface of the metal. As a result, the image becomes as durable as the powder coating itself. This is great for walls in hallways, bathrooms, and elevators – any place where image durability can be a problem. We’re also producing smaller, thicker panels similar in size to gallery-wrapped canvases – these can be mounted to walls with standoffs or French cleats.
Keep in mind, however, that you don’t need dye-sub capability to print metal. Much of this kind of work can be done direct printing with a UV printer. Still, I believe that the sublimated metal results in various advantages, including: a more continuous-toned look; brighter and more vibrant colors; very high resolution; and better control over surface sheen.
And, of course, metal isn’t your only materials option. We’ve also generated acrylic, polycarbonate, wood, and glass pieces. For the National Geographic Museum, we recently produced a “50 greatest images” exhibit using second surface UV-cured printing to acrylic. They were stunning – plus, it’s always nice to start a job with the world’s best photographs.
Opening up the décor umbrella
I’m enthusiastic about a number of other printed interior-decoration opportunities as well. Don’t neglect, for instance, the floor: floors decorated with printed carpet, as well as clear PVC and ceramic tile.
And what about printed doors, table tops, window treatments, cabinet faces, even appliance pancels? These all fall under the “interior-décor umbrella” – and within each of these categories you can probably find dozens of profit opportunities for your shop. In the window-treatment segment, for instance, there’s printed optically clear polyester, direct print to glass, and digital print laminated into safety glass; window treatments could also include shades, curtains, blinds, and shutters.
So, now do you see why I want to brace the cold and make the winter trip to Düsseldorf?