By Tim Greene
In one of our recent surveys, commercial interior wall coverings was identified as one of the strongest growing applications for wide format digital printing. While the concept is not particularly new, we’re seeing new products from some of the originators of the wall covering substrate segment that are energizing the market due to improved functionality and flexibility.
InteliCoat Technologies, which supplied one of the first wall-covering products for digital printing back in the 1990s, a latex-impregnated paper, now has film products for wall decals that offer better capabilities. The company recently introduced a unique product called STICK2, a polypropylene banner with a low-tack, pressure-sensitive adhesive.
Many think of wall coverings like wallpaper (messy and hard to work with), but STICK2 is different because it is repositionable and can be re-applied to most surfaces. It’s durable at 10-mil thick and it has a universal coating that allows it to be printed with aqueous, eco-solvent, solvent or UV-curable inkjet printers, and with the new latex ink technology from HP. And because STICK2 is a polypropylene, it is recyclable.
Separate from wall decals, wall coverings are unlike a lot of wide format digital print applications in that they are not likely to be frequently changed, but they could be. The beauty of digitally printed wall coverings is that they create an opportunity for companies, retailers and individuals to customize their environments. For commercial application this means the opportunity to extend brand management right down to the area where products are displayed and sold. We have seen digitally printed wall coverings applied in a wide range of public settings, from hotels and casinos to restaurants and retailers. For individuals, digital printing means the opportunity to apply big, beautiful images, perhaps even images that the person captured themselves, to areas of their homes.
If you are a print service provider that hasn’t considered adding wall coverings to your product offerings, you might want to—the output can sell for a premium. We found prices for digitally printed wall coverings ranging between $5 and $20 per square foot, depending on the material used, quantity and level of customization. If you are a designer or architect or just have an interest in wall coverings, take a look at some of the resources that are available at association websites, like www.wallcoverings.org, which can provide a lot of guidance on the industry and application. As for profits, the writing could be on the wall.