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What’s New in Digital Prints and Vehicle Wraps?

AP Corp (Sykesville, MD) and azpro (Avondale, AZ) weigh in on the world of prints and wraps.

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THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING brings a host of annual opportunities for shops providing digital prints and vehicle wraps. We spoke with Chris Fong, chief sales engineer for AP Corp (Sykesville, MD) and Robert Flanagan, integrator/ops director for azpro (Avondale, AZ) about what these leading companies foresee during Q2 this year versus last, the vinyl products they favor right now and the latest digital printers they’re considering.

Q2 to Do

“I expect fleet wraps from the service industries that [pick up] in the warmer months,” Fong said, referring to lawn, home improvement and pest control companies, food trucks, and the like. “We’ll also see large fleet and environmental graphics from clients, whose fiscal years end in June/July,” he added, as they spend remaining money or start planning for FY2022.

Flanagan expects the resurgence of cost-effective, durable floor graphics driven by the pandemic to continue. “Floor graphic films have lagged in development, but with the situation as it is in the world, clients are realizing that they are a superb way to communicate their messaging … and draw the consumer into the space,” he said.

New and Classic Films

In addition to floor graphics, Flanagan has an eye on architectural films such as 3M’s DI-NOC. “We are experiencing a lot of great client feedback on the cost effectiveness of these products when compared to straight replacements of desks, doors and cabinetry fixtures,” he said of this vinyl that approximates wood grain and other finishes. We’ve also seen DI-NOC recently used on reconstructed golf carts and in a Chinese dragon wrap Fong entered into a 2019 contest.

While Fong carefully tracks new films being developed, he’s finding success at the moment with established products. “We’re getting great results upgrading our clients to reflective vinyl as well as 3M IJ180mC-120 Printable Metallic,” he said.

Next Printers

And when it comes to printers, Fong says that while AP Corp has stayed tried and true to HP’s 570 Latex series for the past couple of years due to their color quality and speed at an affordable price, he admits, “I’m very interested in learning more about the new HP Latex L700 and L800 series… [With] the added feature of white ink, I can already see how this machine would fit nicely in our arsenal,” he said.

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Flanagan and azpro are studying machines offering built-in coating as an alternative to stand-alone liquid coaters, to both upgrade their offering and save the capital outlay for two separate, space-consuming pieces of equipment. “We are not in the market for purchase at this time,” he said, “but we are watching the performance carefully to determine if an investment is in our future.”

2021 Everyone

As for what the future beyond spring may hold, Fong takes a philosophical approach: “This year is definitely one of rebuilding for everyone,” he said, “but I believe this can be our most successful year yet – not so much in terms of revenue, but personal growth.” Fong suggests shops take what they’ve learned over the previous year and focus on their employees. “Don’t overstretch your capabilities, strengthen the operations side of the business, and by the time 2022 rolls around, you’ll probably be a much better company than you’ve ever been,” he said, adding, “Then, the money will come tenfold.”

Mark Kissling is ST’s Editor-in-Chief. Contact him at [email protected]

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