By Melissa Donovan
Trends have a trickledown effect. Take for instance architecture and design trends. In recent years there is certainly been an uptick in requests for open concept spaces—whether found in the home or in a commercial environment.
Commercial spaces, office environments in particular, present a challenge when it comes to open concept. Conducting business transactions does require some form of privacy. One solution is installing glass partitions of various dimensions, shapes, and thicknesses throughout a space to act as sound barriers.
However glass is see through, so if a level of physical privacy is required, some form of coverage needs to be enacted. Enter window films. Substrates used in these applications are offered in various finishes—gloss, matte, etched, frosted; and many can be digitally printed to add a certain design aesthetic to a space. Light and airy in nature, a window film doesn’t take away from the main goals of an open concept office. Window films are also designed for easy install and removal.
Above: In business since 2015, Deco Film Depot of Plymouth, MA supplies semi-custom printed window films and other frosted-type window films to the trade using window film media from Lintec.
In business since 2015, Deco Film Depot of Plymouth, MA supplies semi-custom printed window films and other frosted-type window films to the trade. Originally operating with two employees, the company has grown to a total of six staff members and works out of two locations that total 10,000 square feet when combined.
Mike Pisano, COO, and Tom Wallace, president, Deco Film Depot, met back in 2014 to consult on what was missing from the current offerings to the window film trade. Pisano’s background is in printing for the window film trade. Starting in 2008 with his first digital printing device, Wallace was one of the earliest adopters of the technology in the Boston marketplace.
“Our consensus was that dealers needed products with high-quality optics, quickly, and at a price point where they can be profitable. Those three things together are hard to do consistently, but we were committed to doing it. And Deco Film Depot was born,” explain Pisano and Wallace.
Leveraging the combined knowledge of both principals, the company was able to achieve its initial goals. Its choice of window media provider helped as well. Deco Film Depot works with window film from Lintec of America, Inc.
Noting that the vendor is more of a partner, Pisano and Wallace say the peace of mind that comes with it is invaluable, as the Lintec product line offers a high level of dependability. Deco Film Depot uses a number of products from Lintec’s portfolio. This includes substrates with a specialized scratch resistant and ink receptive printable top coating. The optical clarity of the film is also a reason for using the material.
To print on the window film, the company isn’t necessarily printer brand loyal. It utilizes several devices including models from Durst Image Technology US, LLC, EFI, and Mimaki USA, Inc. What is important, admits Pisano and Wallace, is that the equipment is calibrated, maintained, and running at 100 percent at all times.
“Any little glitch in a design file, hardware, or software will shut down the whole operation and can easily cost thousands of dollars in repairs and downtime,” they continue.
More importantly, an imperfect window film application is unacceptable—hence the need to work with high-end materials from Lintec and ensure its hardware and software constantly runs up to par. “There is certainly a difference between high-quality printed window film and the printed banner that is 40 feet in the air and being observed at 60 miles per hour. People look at window film graphics—they stop, stare, touch, and critique it. Even the slightest imperfections can be detected,” admit Pisano and Wallace.
Wide Open Spaces
Working with the trade, Deco Film Depot doesn’t necessarily interact with architects or designers, but instead dealers that act as a middleman. That being said, Pisano and Wallace are well aware of the current trends in design, especially in office buildings.
“Today architects and designers are creating open concept spaces that involve more glass. Whether it’s a glass front office space, glass conference rooms, or huddle rooms—there is just more glass,” they comment.
This means more opportunity for surface coverage. While some of this glass may require solar film, it is the printed window film that sets a tone for the office environment’s design aesthetic. “Solar film—people look through it. With custom films, they look at it. This means the film itself as well as the installation needs to be of the highest quality to achieve the optimal effect. Ideally, an observer will not be able to detect a film on the glass and will just assume the design is part of the glass itself,” explain Pisano and Wallace.
Years ago, creating a design that appeared to be part of the glass involved sending frosted film through plotters, cutting, and then weeding to create unique, intricate designs. Digital printing capabilities have changed that, allowing companies like Deco Film Depot to print directly to optically clear films.
The technology has upped the ante in terms of what is possible when it comes to design. According to Pisano and Wallace, architects, designers, and brand owners demand designs that are so intricate and incorporate multiple variations that it would be impossible to meet these visions with old plottng methods.
“Owners prioritize aesthetics to attract and retain valuable business tenants. Business tenants prioritize aesthetics to attract and retain the best and brightest employees. The Class A corporate office space market is incredibly competitive,” say Pisano and Wallace.
Digitally printed window media is attractive because it is an affordable investment for owners and business tenants that keep them a step ahead of the competition. “Savvy business owners use window graphics to transform drab and dreary office areas into spaces that feel fresh, sleek, and inspired,” share Pisano and Wallace.
Combining digital printing with Lintec’s window film, Deco Film Depot supplies countless custom designs. This includes gradients, white patterns, colored patterns, and white and color combined.
Profitable Window Film
Deco Film Depot’s initial goals of providing high-quality optics, quickly, and at a price point where they can be profitable were achieved. The company remains successful in its field of creating semi-custom printed window films and frosted type window films to the trade.
Feb2020, Industrial Print Magazine