There were always new craft projects from my mom, and Mr. Fix-it jobs for my dad growing up, so with no surprise to my family my brother and I took the hands-on approach to life. Due to this, I attended King’s College to pursue Graphic Design and graduated in the top of my class. Little did I know, that was the first stepping stone leading to a career in Print Production. That stone dropped me right in the middle of the path to Metrographics, and more recently, allowed me to help supply a new building with fresh digs. The makeover pushed my knowledge of wide format print, our production programs and our machines to new heights.
This job entailed over a dozen full coverage wall murals, each with their own set of instructions and settings. While the files were being prepared and proofed back to the customer, my partner, Valerie, and I worked to clear our current job list to make time and room to be able to focus on this project.
What most people overlook in wide format printing is how fine the line is between a print that is not quite dry enough or one that is shriveled and wrinkled from too much heat. Neither of which I would willing send to a customer. Each material and printer reacts differently than the next. Proper drying also depends heavily on the amount of ink coverage, for example, a print that is mostly text and little picture coverage like ‘Michael Jordan’ wall, will take less heat and time to dry than a print that is mostly solid color with knock-out text like the ‘Steve Jobs’ and ‘Reshma Saujani’ walls.
I began running test prints on the new materials ordered specifically for this project. The test prints allowed the customer to see small swatches of the items they would be receiving and allowed us to find the best print speed and dry settings to use for each substrate.
Lamination was also part of our testing, as the customer specifically requested that all the white vinyl prints have a matte finish. We felt it was best to test this idea before beginning the actual job for both the customer and for ourselves so we could forecast whether there would be problems with the laminate not adhering to the vinyl, or if static would cause debris to be caught between the print and the laminate.
Thankfully, neither of these became a big issue, only having a few blemishes in the final works that were easily fixed. In fact, in my opinion, the matte laminate added a nice thickness to the vinyl that made handling it much easier, and made each of the images pop right off the page.
The challenges and rewards from this type of project are what continue to inspire me to find ways to make things work. Many thanks are due to my awesome wide format teammates for putting up with me daily. I truly don’t know what I would do without you guys! And thank you to our customers who are willing to walk along side of us to learn along the way as well!