Interesting Projects in Digital Printing

Restaurant Tabletop Advertising Using Water-Proof, Scratch-Proof & Oil-Resistant Prints

Restaurant Tabletop Advertising Using Water-Proof, Scratch-Proof & Oil-Resistant Prints

vinyl record images printed on the table top of a themed music cafe
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You Make a Commitment and Murphy Jumps In. S*** Happens.

As a bit of a dreamer. I identify a lot with characters in books and on-screen heros. So much so, that up until a few years ago, I used to think of myself as some kind of an invincible superman. It took middle age, a receding hairline and a horrible leg accident to remind me, that I am in fact, pretty breakable and eminently fallible. 

But this is a story from a time when I didn’t know better.

It was sometime in 2012 when Barney Stinson coined an immortal phrase – ‘Challenge Accepted‘. And these two words from a make-believe TV sitcom, got yours truly, in trouble, in the real world. 

Here’s what happened…

Printing on a Table Top for Advertising

I got a call from Ms. Veena (name changed) who worked in the marketing division of a large fast-food company based out of Mumbai. Veena keeps sending a lot of work my way. This is because she trusts me to get her ad campaigns running efficiently and on time. Further, I never gave her a reason to think otherwise.

Now, Veena had recently opened a Pizza Hut outlet at the SGS food mall. For those who don’t know, the food court at SGS is made of scores of fast food outlets, all surrounding a large open space. This central atrium is furnished with 60 odd tables and attendant chairs. It works as a common seating area for all the different restaurants. So people buy their meals from the food joint of their choice and bring it to any free table in the atrium.

Veena had a great marketing idea to start off her newly opened franchisee. Although the tables could be used by customers of any food outlet, she felt that each and every one of those 60 tables should carry an advertisement for Pizza Hut. And this strategically placed ad would entice prospective customers to her pizzeria, to the exclusion of the other food vendors. 

Now, restaurants generally use small tent cards to highlight chef specials. Alternatively, some fast food outlets like McDonalds for example, use disposable placemats/table mats made of paper, to print their menus.

But Veena wasn’t interested in 6 inch high tent cards or leaflets of paper. She was thinking big. She wanted the entire top surface of every table furniture to show huge product photos of her delicious pizzas. Her idea was to dominate a hungry family’s visual space by advertising on the table top. And this was brilliant. All her colleagues at the agency too were fired up by this brainstorm. 

So Veena tentatively asked me if printing on the entire table top is possible.

Leaping Before You Look

Now remember, back in 2012, I was a superman – only with the underwear on the inside. 

And with my ‘can do’ attitude, I frequently emulated Mr. Stinson (he of the ‘How I Met Your Mother’, fame) by leaping before I looked. Without really thinking about the difficulties the job entailed, I went and gave a high-value client my commitment to execute her idea. My inner Barney cried, ‘Challenge Accepted’ while I further dug my grave by assuring her that it was a pretty easy job to print on table tops, technically. 

While in reality, it was anything but.

advertising pizzas in a restaurant via furniture printing on top of a table
furniture printing on a table top is a great interior design idea for a music themed cafe

Challenges Faced by a Table Top Print

Pasting a print on a table is easy. Expecting it to last is not. If you think about it, the surface of a table top receives a lot of abuse…

  1. People place plates and cutlery on table tops.
  2. Oily food and water gets spilled on tables.
  3. The surface is continually wiped down after every meal.
  4. People place shopping bags, purses with metal buckles, car keys, etc on top of a table.
  5. You’ll see girls with heavy bangles holding her beau’s hands, on the table.
  6. Heck, people even place baby baskets on top of tables. After all, where did you think all that hand holding was going to lead to? 🙂

Anyways, on a more serious note, Orchid Digitals prints a lot of posters and banners. But while these materials work great for vertical walls, they aren’t really built to withstand the abrasions listed above. I had no solution to Veena’s mandate and was in danger of failing in my commitment to her.

Preetam to the Rescue

Preetam Bodke is my man Friday at Orchid Digitals. He heads our LED boards and laser cutting division. He is honest, hard working and loyal to a fault. And while I am just shouting my head off, he is the one who gets all the real work done here. So when I have a problem, I pile it on his head! When things are not going my way he bears the brunt of my tantrums!

Hey, don’t judge me. I acquired my managerial skills at the ‘Donald Trump School of Screaming and Shouting’ 🙂 Preetam knows this too. And stoically suffers me.

Be that as it may, Preetam is also my go to guy for solutions to offbeat problems. And when I told him about my table top printing problem, he did not disappoint. He reminded me that we in fact do have the solution in house.

You see we have another material called floor overlaminate. It’s used for branding floors in malls, offices and large commercial areas. It is especially designed to withstand hundreds if not thousands of people who walk over it.

Floor overlaminates are super tough. By suggesting that we try using this material to brand and advertise on the tabletops, Preetam once again pulled me out of the hole I had dug myself in. And ultimately, here is what we did.

advertising on tables in a Pizza Hut restaurant using UV printed cast vinyl
image of an LP record for advertising on a table top in a restaurant whose decor is based on a music theme

How We Managed to Print 60 Tables Tops?

High Resolution Print on Vinyl With Strong Adhesion: We took the customer’s artwork and printed it on a specialised cast vinyl. Cast vinyl is known for its very strong adhesion. This is important because we could not have the print peeling from its edges after a few days. Our high resolution Mimaki eco solvent printer also ensured that the images came out looking crisp and absolutely vibrant.

Top Surface Protection: The next job was to laminate the print. This involves pasting a protective layer of clear plastic on top of the print. Lamination makes the print immune to water, food stains and dust. But we did not use a standard laminating film here. We deployed our specialised floor overlaminate. This made the top surface of the print virtually indestructible. It was now almost impossible to tear, scratch or abrade the print.

Die Cutting for Perfect Finish: The tables at the food court were circular with a diameter of 30 inches (2.5 feet). So the next thing to do was cut the prints in perfect circles of this dimension. You could not do this by using ordinary scissors because a.) The prints had become way too thick and b.) Hand cutting would not result in that perfect finish for all 60 copies.

To overcome this problem, we created a circular metal die with sharpened edges. The overlaminate and the die was then placed in a hydraulic machine to punch out the prints in the required shape and dimensions. Visualize an ‘ulta thaali’ pressed on dough to make circle shaped ‘rotis’ and you’ll get an idea of what I am saying.

On-Site Pasting of the Job: Finally the prints were taken to the site and pasted on the table tops. 60 tables, spread over a vast hall and all carrying the same message, make for an impressive sight. Do take a look at the finished job.

But the story doesn’t end here. Fresh off my success form the Pizza Hut job, I went and monetised the idea once again. This time around, an architect wanted to make an 70s and 80s music themed cafe. So we branded the circular tables in the cafe with an image of a LP record. The rectangular table tops were done up to look like the old cassette tapes. Have a look at the images of the same above.

table top printing in a restaurant to reproduce photos and images on furniture

How Much Does a Print for a Table Cost?

Orchid Digitals is an industrial print-for-pay service provider. We don’t generally provide interior decor services. And printing advertisements on restaurant table tops is not part of our service portfolio. But every so often we come across a job pretty much off the beaten track. 

Moreover the last moment win in the pizzeria case is kind of lodged in my memory. This is why I included it in our Interesting Projects section. You might want to look at some other stories in this section because they are, well… interesting.

Also, in case you are wondering, the table top print with thick overlaminate doesn’t cost much. The printed material goes for ₹ 150.00 per square foot. So to cover a 3 feet square shaped table will cost you ₹ 1350.00 plus taxes.

Stick to Your Commitments and the Jobs will Keep Flowing In

Orchid Digitals’ goodwill is based largely on our ability to finish our jobs at the highest quality and well in time. We take our commitments to our customers very seriously. And since this post did not have enough cheesy pop culture references, I will end by quoting Mr. Chulbul Pandey who said that – “Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, toh phir main khudki bhi nahi sunta…”

This experiment and struggle actually did fuel my appetite for experimenting as well. Way in the future from this particular incident, I tried my hand at converting another interior decor idea into reality through furniture printing. It was when we moved into a new house and my child wanted intriguing interior work done on the furniture. That’s when I went ahead and once again, printed on the furniture. You can read more about this incident here.

So what did you think about this project? Do let us know in the comments section below. If you find yourself with the idea/need to advertise on table tops, you know who to call. And even if you have a similar offbeat interior decor idea you want to convert into reality, reach out to us

And remember, the next time the party really gets going and people start dancing on the tables, those are probably my prints protecting the surface. Cheers.

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Corporate Gifting Interesting Projects in Digital Printing

Personalized Rubik’s Cube

Personalized Rubik’s Cube Bearing Images Instead of Colours

personalized rubik’s cube UV printed with photos and images is a fabulous corporate gifting idea
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We Put a Twist to the Game That Even Ernő Rubik Couldn’t Have Dreamed Of

Let’s start this with a bit of a back story.

A close friend of mine, Mr. Anil Rohira was holding an exhibition for his products. He had hired a five-star hotel to demonstrate the working of very high-end printing machines and allied equipment. The invitee list included most of the top print service providers in Pune and Mumbai. The date and venue for the exhibition were all finalised and it was now time to send out invites to the participants. And this presented a problem.

Anil wanted a very premium and personalized invitation card. He also wanted it to be as unique as possible. Cost for the invitation card was not a bar. But despite that, every invitation sample he saw at every card vendor failed to impress him. Invites with rich vellum like paper, gold foiling, raised letter embossing, etc. would wow a regular person. But his target audience were master printers themselves. For them, every paper invite would be a case of, ‘been there, done that.’ The problem was getting serious. And when my friend has a problem, he quickly piles it on me.

An Unconventional Printer at Orchid Digitals

Many people are familiar with the standard wide format printer and have seen it in action. You put in a roll of printable media (say paper or plastic) at one end. The media flows through the machine at one end and comes out bearing the printed image at the other. But you cannot print rigid objects on a roll to roll inkjet printer. For example you can print a decal on a machine and paste the sticker on your laptop. But you cannot print directly on a laptop.You cannot push a block of wood or a slab of stone though a printer. Or can you?

At Orchid Digitals we have a flatbed UV printer that can print directly on objects. The principles of moving media through a printer are reversed in this machine. Instead of moving sheets of paper through a stationary machine, the object (on which the print has to happen) remains at a fixed location and the entire printer moves around it. The working of a Flatbed UV Printer is explained more in detail in this post about printing on 3D objects and end products. But for now, suffice it to say, that at Orchid Digitals, we can print directly onto flat surfaces of rigid objects.

Hand holding a custom puzzle created by printing personalised images on a photos and images on a rubik's cube to create a great idea for a gift

Back to Anil’s Invite Problem

Anil’s demand for a unique invitation card came with a number of stipulations.

  1. The personalized invite must be printed to show a lot of data, like the text of the invite, product images, company logo, etc.
  2. The print should wow even the most jaded print service providers who have seen and processed virtually every kind of print surface.
  3. The fate of most invites is to end up in the dustbin once the event in question is over. But people should not throw away his invitation. It should have lasting value.
  4. The invitation must work as a memorabilia and serve to remind people about the exhibition (and the machines he demonstrated there) for years to come.

We Had to Think out of the Box

My old business management teacher was fond of quoting, ‘think out of the box’ when faced with difficult problems. And that’s when the penny dropped! Screw the thinking part. Let’s print the invite on a box itself. Or, in this case, on a Rubix Cube… a box-like structure.

A rubix cube has six surfaces and the next step was to design content that would go on each of these surfaces.

  1. One side of the cube would show the name of the company (Silicon Infotech), its logo and tagline.
  2. Another surface, the side diametrically opposite to the first one, should be printed with the subject matter of the invitation. This should include the text inviting the recipient, the date, the time and venue of the event.
  3. The remaining four surfaces of the rubix cube would carry images of the high end printing machinery that were to be displayed at the exhibition.

What Happened When the Finished Job Was Delivered?

Anil’s jaw dropped. Tears of gratitude welled up in his eyes. And the rich bugger handed over half his kingdom to me. Well… that’s not exactly what happened, but a poor man can dream, can’t he? But my dreams notwithstanding, the idea was a huge success. Every print shop owner personally called Anil up, on receiving the personalized ‘Rubix Cube Invite’ and assured him that they would attend the exhibition.

The Actual Printing on the Cubes

We bought a hundred cubes from a local toy shop here in Pune. We did get some odd stares from the owner, but he was happy to take our coin :-). Next we put on a primer coat on all the sides. The primer coat acts as a glue and ensures that the UV inks do not flake away from the glossy surface of the toy. After that, we printed a uniform layer of white ink on all the colored surfaces. Remember, there are six surfaces to a rubix cube. Once we had a white uniform box like structure, we printed the 6 different images we had earlier designed.

The end result was a fully functioning rubix cube carrying a personalised invitation message from my friend Anil to his guests in the printing industry. The UV inks did not hamper the working of the cube in any way. People could still play with it, to jumble up the messages printed on its surfaces and then unscramble the same.

Capitalizing on a Good Idea

If you have a good idea to impress one customer, it makes sense to use the same and impress others. In the current Covid lockdown, where I am tasked with washing the dishes, I call this the ‘Rinse and Repeat Strategy.’ We do not sell custom printed rubix cubes as a regular item in our store. The printed cube narrated in the incident above, remained an experimental prototype (one of those rare ones that saw success). But I did use the idea to create unique gifts on two other occasions though. Videos for which are embedded above.

1. A Gift for a Guy Who Has Everything: I was invited to a dinner party by Mr Jehangir H. C. Jehangir, Chairman of the Jehangir Group of Hospitals, here in Pune. There are two things about Mr. Jehangir that you should probably know. One, he is an extremely humble, polite and likeable gentleman. He has also always showered me with a lot of praise and respect. So I really, really did not want to go to the party empty handed. Two, he’s probably richer than God. And that’s where the problem lay. What gift do you get for a guy who has everything?

And that is when I remembered. Mr. Jehangir is an avid nature and wildlife photographer. I had some stunning images of wild animals that he had captured on film. And so, in answer to the question I posed two sentences ago, you get him a gift for him that is so personalised that it cannot be bought for money. I printed the wild life images on a rubix cube using the technique described above. And trust me, he really appreciated the gift. Do have a look at the video above to see how the gift turned out.

2. A Toy to Educate Children About Jain Saints: Acharya Shivmuni, a Jain monk was conducting a camp during ‘Chaturmas’, a four month period of reflection and religious observance. My mandate during the festivities was to create a toy for small children that would familiarize them with our Jain saints. The custom printed rubik’s cube idea was an ideal solution for this requirement. We took images of our saints and printed them on the surfaces of the cube. The children and their parents loved the idea and the Acharya gave me his blessings. Who knows, maybe I even won’t have to go to hell now. But be that as it may, take a look at the finished job in the video above.

Closing Note

If you were impressed with this idea and its result, and I consider my efforts on this blog well rewarded. You might also be wondering where such a personalized gift idea like this would come in handy? Here are some applications that com to mind.

  1. This can be a corporate gift idea for your team. It’d amuse and entertain them, while proving to be a cool idea to blow some steam during work.
  2. It could be a personalized gift idea for your teachers/students. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and is sure to bring a smile on peoples’ faces.
  3. You can create your own custom puzzle using an idea like this. Gift it to your child, or make it a personalized gift idea for a birthday party your child is invited to. Trust me – it’s going to blow minds.

So what did you think about my personalized rubik’s cube invite idea? Have you created something similar in your print shop? I really would hear about the same Do share your thoughts in the comments section below. And do click here to see the other interesting printing projects I have experimented with. Cheers.

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Interesting Projects in Digital Printing

Custom Photo Frame in a Unique Swastik-Like Shape

Custom Photo Frame in a Unique Swastik-Like Shape

a multi picture frame of a different and novel shape
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Eye-Catching & Offbeat Custom Shaped Photo Frame - Sure to Elicit a Wow From Your Guests.

Doing the interiors of a new house is fun. But it can also become frustrating at times. I had just finished decorating a wall in my daughter’s room with some 3D graffiti and it was a huge success. Now, there was one more room in the same flat which had a bare and pretty dull looking wall. 

I did consider tacking on individual photos onto the wall, but that looks too shabby. Also, convention states that you put up a picture frame on a bare wall to give it some character. And if you don’t like the idea of abstract pictures, you can use a photo collage of your loved ones, in a frame.

I liked the idea of using multiple images of our family. But I really did not want to use a boring rectangular photo frame that everyone else uses. The idea of a photo frame for this room was ideal, yes. But I wanted a photo frame with a different kind of form factor.

Inspiration for the Custom ‘Swastik’ Photo Frame

We are Gujarati Jains. The ‘Swastik’ symbol has a special significance for us. It is considered extremely auspicious and represents peace, harmony and prosperity. So one of the first things that my wife did upon entering the new house was draw a Swastik in vermilion (kumkum) in the small temple we keep at home. 

And looking at this symbol gave me an idea. 

What if I could move those arms a little bit. Perhaps I could create an overlap with the sides of the symbol and insert photographs in the gap created by that overlap. And a little bit of experimenting in my design software gave me exactly what I was looking for. That is… a rather unconventionally shaped custom photo frame.

novel design idea for multiple photos in a frame as a great interior design concept

Fabricating the ‘Swastik’ Multi-Photo Frame

With the design ready, the next step was fairly easy. We now had to cut the multi-picture frame from a thick and rigid material. Wood works for this. But a sheet of sunboard works even better. Sunboard is a smooth,rigid, flat and very lightweight sheet of plastic. It is pretty easy to cut as well. 

So we took a 10 mm thick sheet of sunboard and cut it with a router into the ‘Swastik’ shape above. And as you can see, the overlap of the arms allowed for a multi-picture photo frame. Once the cutting was done, it was fairly easy to spray paint the frame. The frame was painted black as I thought that it would contrast well with the white wall it had to be hung over.

Next came the pictures. I had a ton of images of my kids and wife to choose from. Since the motif was ‘black on white’ I converted a selected few of these images to grayscale using the appropriate design software. We printed these images on a non tearable paper and laminated the same for good measure. My high resolution images were now waterproof, could not be torn easily and would not fade either. Finally, each of these picture prints were inserted from behind the individual arms, as can be seen in this image.

photo collage in a frame uniquely shaped in the shape of a photo

Cost of the Swastik Photo Collage Frame

Orchid Digitals is mainly a commercial print provider. Photo frames for collages, like the one featured here as an interior decoration idea, are not kept in ready stock as a finished product. What we specialise in, is processing our customers’ various designs into prints mainly used for advertising and marketing. 

As such, this project does not figure as a salable product in our rates and services section.

But if I had to put a price tag to this project, I’m guessing that a 3 feet wide X 3 feet high, Swastik photo frame should approximately cost ₹ 3000.00 plus taxes.

Material Used for Crafting This Multi-Photo Frame

The actual materials used in the fabrication of this frame are fairly inexpensive. High resolution color prints are dirt cheap at our outlet. Sunboard too, is not very costly. And this while the final cost of this frame is not all that much, it is the novel and original design that makes it stand out. 

Here are the ingredients that went into making this project:

  • 10 mm thick sunboard
  • High resolution digital photo prints
  • Lamination for the above
  • CNC router cutting to shape the frame
custom photo frame in the shape of a swastik is a great interior

Closing Note

Thank you for reading this post. We like converting novel ideas like this one into reality. Ideas like these find themselves in the ‘Interesting Projects’, a collection of offbeat jobs that we have undertaken. 

Sometimes they are undertaken to help a friend out (Custom Printed Rubik’s Cube), and other times, as a labour of and for love (like 3D wall graffiti and printed wardrobes). While these projects do not figure in the services we provide, they are still featured on the website to showcase the creativity of people while using the printing technologies available at Orchid Digitals. The uniqueness of this frame, its offbeat design, and final form factor is why I thought of including here.

Did you like the idea of this custom photo frame? Do let me know in the comments section below. I would absolutely love to hear from you.

Also, if you have an idea that you’d like to convert into reality, do drop us a note with your contact details and idea. We’d love to help you convert your dream into reality.

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