Print and Preparation
In today’s post we’re going have a quick look at what happens after we receive artwork (LINK) and before the installation (LINK). This is the process of printing and preparation – though not overly complicated there is still a degree of manual labour involved in the studio which does take time.
Once the artwork has been processed we generally split the files up into four categories, Wall Murals, Wall Stickers, Glass Print and Cut Glass. Murals as you might imagine are large photographic prints which are usually printed in drops, like wallpaper. Stickers are products that require elements cut-out – this could be text, logo or even a butterfly. Glass Prints are where we print onto optically clear window film or etch-effect vinyl that is covering the full window. Cut Glass will usually be shapes cut out of etch-effect vinyl for manifestation purposes, or printed and cut designs in etch or film. There are other uses and materials, but these are typically the products we create. All of the products we use are British Safety Standard Class 0 Fire Rated meaning they reach the highest standard for use in public spaces, ensuring compliance with government regulation.
Once the artwork for a mural is ready we send it to our RIP software which lets us create the drops that will make up a mural. If a mural is 3m wide by 2.6m tall, we will split the mural into three drops of 1m in the software. During the site survey if we see boxing or obstructions on the wall, we try take this into consideration with the size of the drops, maybe making one narrower, or splitting the design into more drops to make installation easier. It will usually take around 1.5hrs to print a three drop mural. After it is finished we take the printed media out of the printer and put it into the laminator. The laminator applies a layer of clear matt or gloss film over the top of the print, which protects the ink from being scratched and makes it fully waterproof and wipeable. The lamination process takes about fifteen minutes. After we have laminated the prints they are rolled out onto the bench and manually trimmed using a good old fashioned safety ruler and craft knife. The mural is then rolled up and packed into a box ready to go to site.
With our sticker products the process is very similar. The artwork is sent to the RIP software which separates the file into two elements; one is the print file which the printer uses to produce the sticker, and the other is a cut file which goes to a separate piece of software. When a sticker is printing it starts by printing a barcode with a unique number on it, then proceeds to print the design. Once the print is finished, which can take up to 40mins depending on the size, the media is removed and over-laminated as with the murals. The sticker is then loaded into a vinyl cutter, where the unique barcode number is read by the cutter software and matched to the cut file. The vinyl cutter uses a small blade to cut through the vinyl while leaving the backing paper intact. After everything is cut the sticker is moved to the bench where we remove any unnecessary areas, e.g. if the design was a football we would remove all the material around the ball leaving only the circular shape of the ball. This process is called weeding.
After we have weeded the blank areas from the sticker we place a paper-based film over the top. This is Application Tape, which aids us with installing. E.g. If you imagine some vinyl lettering saying ‘Exit’, when the text is to be installed the backing paper would be removed exposing the sticky side. It would then be stuck to the wall and at that point the Application Tape would be removed leaving only the word ‘Exit’ on the wall. It saves us fitting one letter at a time.
Glass prints are similar to murals, though they are rarely in large drops. When we produce the artwork for glass work, where we have accurate sizes we will create a keyline around the print. Once the media has printed we will trim around the keyline ensuring we have a glass print that fits exactly inside the window pane when we arrive onsite. It is crucial that we understand which side of the glass the prints will being going, as the artwork may need to be mirrored to read the correct way if applied to the reverse of the glass.
Cut Glass is very similar to our Wall Sticker process but is produced on etch-effect or clear film. If the Cut Glass requires a printed design e.g. a colour logo, we will send the file to the printer, where it receives a unique number, barcode and the printed design. We then load it into the cutter, the machine will cut it out, it will be weeded and application tape added. If we are simply cutting shapes out of etch-effect vinyl we will skip the printer stage and load the media directly into the vinyl cutter. From the cut software we send the film and it cuts it directly. We will then remove it, weed out any unnecessary areas and apply the application tape.
These are the basic processes for everything that we do, and are adjusted according to the job. So, if we were to do a horizontal or vertical banner, we would use the same method as printing a Wall Mural except amend it to be a single drop. If we were doing a desk wrap we would apply the same method. And if we were installing a wave shaped banner along a corridor, we would follow the Wall Sticker process. These are the four product types that when used by leading interior designers have transformed uninspiring spaces into something really special.
Wall Glamour transform spaces using wall murals and graphics. We turn blank walls into visual treats which have a significant positive effect on the users of those spaces. Our products have featured on several TV shows, and we have installed bespoke projects throughout the UK. These include the BBC World Service lobby and Glasgow’s prestigious new £850m Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital. Wall Glamour wall art is used in businesses, start-ups, gyms, schools, cafés and healthcare environments.