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Adventures in Eco-Solvent
ADgraphix, based in Saint Louis, MO, began in 2002 with a focus on fleet vehicle graphics and point of sale (POS) signage. However, the company's co-owners, Jeff Burns and Chris Schreck, were not unfamiliar with digital print at the time of the business' inception.
In the early 1980s the two worked at a fleet graphics shop, using a Gerber Scientific Products, Inc. (GSP) Edge thermal resin printer. Back then, it was one of the best devices for long-term vehicle graphics but took up a lot of the employees’ time and was expensive. “It got the job done, but it was limited to 11.8-inch maximum print panels, which had to be tiled. Printing was painfully slow for a four-color process job. The resolution was poor and the foil created a very high ink cost,” admits Burns.
The 1990s brought with it a hot solvent printer for vehicle wraps. Again, ink usage was difficult and costly, specifically on the maintenance side. Every Monday Burns and Schreck would come into work prepared to unclog the printhead nozzles, as the printer would sit dormant over the weekend. The process included hours of pulling the printheads and soaking them in solvent, then forcing solvent through them with a syringe.
"I'm sure we all still carry some of that solvent in our livers. Even with the ventilation system, the whole shop and office smelled like a chemical factory," continues Burns.
After the company closed its doors in 2001, ADgraphix soon began. It opened on a shoe string budget with used plotters, a GSP Edge printer, and a Roland DGA Corporation SOLJET SC-500 printer. The Roland SOLJET SC-500 utilized an early version of eco-solvent inks, something that greatly attracted Burns and Schreck. Both the low odor and lack of expensive ventilation were appealing—for the environment and their own health needs.
Today the PSP runs four Roland VersaCAMM VS-640s in 8,000 square feet of space with 18 employees. Thanks to the printers, the company branched out from its main fleet graphic and POS offerings and now provides window, wall, trade show, backlit, and display graphics as well.
Roland Eco-SOL MAX inks provide the color pop and skin tones needed to produce exceptional output for its client base, with a reliable consistency across all applications. "Resolution and color gamut are very important to us. We feel Roland’s printers and inks always give us an end product that is closer to photographic printing. The newer Eco-SOL MAX inks offer an even better color gamut, faster dry time, and better scratch resistance," explains Burns.
Eco-solvent ink is at the epicenter of ADgraphix's growth, as it's played a large role in its business over the past 11 years. The PSP continues to keep pace with technological advancements by trading in older devices for new ones, which is how they came to run four Roland VersaCAMM VS-640s. With the addition, there is greater quality and consistency in output.