Print Possibilities: Not So Square Anymore

By Michael Grodin – ETMG President


Marketing is all about the message, and as technology advances, the different ways to get your message out there continue to grow. But such innovations are not limited to electronic media.

Image: Riot

In fact, some of the most amazing achievements in marketing today are happening not online, but with print. Thanks to technology, the options available to marketers are more numerous and less expensive than ever. If you rely on outdoor and point-of-sale marketing – or if you’re planning on using them in the future – you owe it to yourself to get up to speed on your options.


Not like the old days

For decades, display signage was like Ford Motor Company in the early 1900’s – there just weren’t a lot of choices. Signage was relegated to very limited formats and materials: square or rectangle, white or black, Foam-cor® for inside use, and Gatorfoam® (aka Gator board) for outdoors.

As designers, we were limited to only our creativity and anything rectangular, unless we were good with an X-acto® knife to cut out a different shape—like the all-too-common arrow. In fact, many folks just got lazy and printed the arrow on the sign!

Today, everything has changed with the addition of two technologies: printing direct to substrate, and the digital cutter.


No more material issues

A closer look at signage material

A closer look at signage material

Basically, substrate is any solid substance or material to which you can apply printing ink. Printing direct to substrate instead of some type of paper product means we can print on just about anything flat that is less than ½” thick.

We can now print to glass, plastic, metal or wood for outdoor signs and leather, canvas, cork, composites, Gatorfoam, Foam-cor, for indoor applications, such as point-of-sale, and booth and lobby displays. No more silk screening or pad printing. And because printing directly to substrate allows you to use full process digital color, you can get photo-quality imagery on nearly any surface you choose.

Since printing directly to substrate makes it possible to print onto a wider variety of materials, it also opens up a whole array of environmentally friendly printing surfaces such as recycled plastics and biomaterials. And going is green something every marketer can get behind.


“Cutting-edge” printing

Round digitally printed and custom die cut signage

Image: Riot

Add digital cutting to the mix, and now you have incredible eye-popping solutions that were once so labor intensive that their application was mostly impractical.

With the Zund digital cutter, for example, designers can design any type of dimensional signage – full color, full bleeds, cut out in any shape imaginable, including human silhouettes. Check out the Zund demo below – it’s pretty amazing.

Most high-grade marketing agencies such as ETMG have these printing tools and materials at their disposal and can turn around orders extremely fast. If you’re not taking advantage of them, it’s the difference between you and the competitor that can be quite glaring. At the very least, they’re worth checking out.

While we all want to know the latest trends involving the Internet and social media, print media continues to evolve by leaps and bounds. Who can tell what’s next?



Green Printing and Plastic: No Longer Strange Bedfellows

G3 Routing of aluminum (Zund demo)

Solid Reasons for Zund G3

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