By Olivia Cahoon
Magnetic media is used for wide format applications found in retail settings—partly due to easy installation and fast change over. Shops that offer magnetic graphics provide clients with reusable and visually appealing products. Part one of this two-part series, features a print shop that offers magnetic signage for retail environments.
Formerly Blue Sky Signs, Read Display was established in 2004 as a one-man shop in Warwick, RI. It originally offered cut vinyl graphics and served RI and Southeastern MA from a 500 square foot basement.
At press time, Read Display was currently moving into a 37,000 square foot facility in West Warwick, RI. The shop manufactures point of purchase (POP) displays, retail fixtures, commercial millwork, and large format printed graphics and signage. It offers CNC machining, laser cutting, large format printing, and services for logistics, design, and engineering. While the company serves all markets, its main clients are retailers.
The team’s industrial designers, design engineers, and craftsmen work with clients to communicate the core values and unique characteristics of brands that drive product sales. The shop takes a holistic approach to design, engineering, and manufacturing by considering a project in its totality—from concept to fulfillment. Serving customers across the U.S. and internationally, Read Display’s work is found in Canada, Dubai, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, and the UK.
Designing Magnetic Graphics
From 2011 to 2015, the print service provider (PSP) produced a high volume of magnetic graphics. Edward Forer, CEO, Read Display, says that a repeat retail customer often requested magnetic graphics for the ability to change out graphics frequently across a network of stores. “The customer had seen the Visual Magnetics Graphic System at a trade show and approached us about using it,” says Forer.
Read Display uses Visual Magnetics exclusively and purchases the product from distributor Alpha Imaging. “Visual Magnetics supports and continuously develops the product well,” says Forer.
The shop uses printers from Agfa Graphics, HP, Inc., Mimaki USA, Inc., and Oki Data Americas, Inc., with its oldest machine dating to 2005. To print magnetic graphics, Read Displays often uses HP latex-based printers. “The latex printers require virtually no operator experience to use, the quality is second to none, and it is surprisingly reliable for machines designed with little end user serviceability engineered into them,” shares Forer.
While the PSP experienced success with its magnetic graphics work, it still faces challenges due to media. Forer explains that the HP printer is unable to calibrate the media advance automatically because of the black backing on Visual Magnetics’ media. “This means that we get some stretching and distortion of the prints when they go to the CAD table for cutting so we have to add more bleed than we typically would with other roll-to-roll films,” he says.
Printing magnetic graphics on flatbeds eliminate distortion problems. However, this process affects the latex quality that customers seek. According to Forer, “we can create really exciting looking frames and other graphics housings that allow RMOs, merchandisers, and store managers to easily change out the marketing messaging in the store.”
Offering magnetic graphics allows shops to create a fulfillment business by maintaining a database of personal in-store image sizes and mounting options. Databases are used to crop and size new imagery for the application. “This level of management produced another profit center and helped to ensure continuing relationships with our customers by being more than just a pay-for-print shop,” says Forer.
Magnetic graphics are convenient and efficient applications that allow retail workers to install graphics quickly and easily. Magnetic media is used for vehicles, promotions, and novelty items. Part two of this series features a print provider that goes beyond the retail space.