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OCTOBER 2012





Meeting Market Needs -
Opportunities in Magnetic Media

Times have changed and it is up to dealers in the graphic arts channel to meet the challenges of change and opportunity.

In the good old days, printers pretty much knew what products they wanted from their supply dealers and much of a dealer's revenue came from consumables for prepress - films, chemicals, plates plus, stripping and proofing materials. The bigger issues were price, stocking levels and providing resolution to problems between end-user customers and manufacturers. Also, many graphic arts dealers made it easy for their key customers to do business with them by offering pay as you use it consignment plans.

Building loyalty is still a key part of the dealer's sales arsenal but over time, especially today, the product mix has changed and dealers have added many products and supplies that may either be unfamiliar to all their customers, or what those customers are asking for today. For example, selling a wide format printer is typically a one off / one time sale that dealers will only profit from if they cannot sell the materials as well. Also, there is a wide range of products they can sell that are not typical items, such as paper and vinyl.

An interesting product, new to dealers, is magnetic media. It fits with traditional printing methods but is a perfect fit for digital printing. In an April, 2012 editorial directed to wide format printers Dealer Communicator (DC) discussed the application of magnetic materials for sign shops and other wide format inkjet printers. However, the printing of magnetic materials is available for all types of printers. Application of printed magnetic products is extensive and growing. For example . . . vehicle and building signs and all types of refrigerator door magnets: business cards, calendars. But, there are some unusual applications as well. So to expand on ways the magnetic materials are being used DC generated a survey sent to manufacturers, dealers and producers of magnetic based products. The intent is to provide additional ideas for dealers to offer their customers that could generate sales of printed products and for the dealer to generate additional sales of equipment and materials.

One interesting response came from Lisa O'Connor of Alpha Imaging, Inc. of Lowell, MA. (www.alphaimaging.com) Alpha Imaging is both a printer on wide format materials and reseller of equipment, supplies and materials. We learned from her that one kind of application for magnetic materials is for retail businesses where the signage is often a very large format and frequently changes. They use materials from Visual Magnetics (www.visualmagnetics.com) who offers a patented approach to magnetic signage. A wall can be painted with ActiveWall® micro-iron latex primer paint or have an adhesive magnetic sheet called InvisiLock mounted.

The printing is then done on a very thin, stay flat magnetic material called MagnaMedia®. This Magnetic-receptive media utilizes the technology of coating the highest quality films with micro-iron particles. Unlike printing directly on magnets - which are typically thick, can be difficult to print on, plus having some limitations in size and image quality - the ordinary stocks can be used putting the images on significantly thinner, smoother and more flexible media that can provide photo-quality graphics. An example of this technology at work is in a retail store where a wall is painted with the magnetic media or a sheet of magnetic media is put on the wall like wallpaper. The printed magnetically printed images are then placed on the wall. In a film on the Alpha Imaging site you can see that you can not only put up one image but overlay additional images on the printed piece.

A similar application is offered by New Force Magnetics, Inc. (www.newforcemagnetics.com). With the New Force "Transitional Graphics™ system, the magnetic (backer/receiver) is adhered to the wall or menu board, utilizing an acrylic adhesive. Then the "Transitional Graphics" magnetic receptive, printable material, can be affixed, after printing, to the magnet on the wall or the menu board. Then one additional layer of Transitional Graphics magnetic receptive material may be placed upon the first layer.

T G may be used in any application where signage require frequent changes. An example would be in a retail store where sales prices may change daily or weekly. This applies to menu boards and other in-store changeable signage.

Another interesting application of magnetic materials comes from Albert E. Middlebrook representing Palermo Imaging in California. He told DC that his company is an online retailer of books and educational materials for schools districts and colleges, Often he sells products that may have magnets included. This can be calendars or items used as reminders or educational information that can be tacked on a metal surface in the classroom or at home.

To get additional ideas on the applications of magnets DC looked at Magnets4Media (www.magnets4media.com/) reported to be the largest ad specialty printer using magnetic media. The array of products from this company is idea stimulating. They range for the ordinary: business card magnets; car signs; and direct mail pieces to memo boards; calendars; glow in the dark and other imaginative uses. One example is a project done for Nintendo Wii where at an event in New York City a dress up doll magnet featuring two players and various ways to customize them by peeling off clothes parts they could be placed on the doll images.

Another project was to create an image of a piggy back and peel out magnetic coins. This was used by a savings bank in schools to teach kids about change and about saving money.

There are many good sources for the magnetic materials. In a previous article in the use of magnetic materials as an opportunity for graphic arts dealers (Oct, 2011) DC talked with Stephen S. McLevey, Customer Service & Product Manager at Flexmag Industries, Inc. (www.flexmag.com). His company makes a wide variety of pre-laminated materials including those coated with a printable white base. Flexmag also has a technical department that can work with dealers in educating them on the technology side of magnetic media along with applications that dealer customers could be interested in.

Flexmag and other key vendors including Mike Gertz at
Master Magnetics (www.magnetsource.com) and Jack Nellessen at
New Force Magnetics, Inc. (www.newforcemagnetics.com) also offer varieties of laminated magnetic materials including magnets that utilize vinyl, polypropylenes and papers.

The point of this Dealer Communicator editorial is to emphasis that dealers will do well to find additional products, especially consumables that will provide new income as the printing industries continues to move forward on the digital path as the need for conventional printing supplies is replaced by digital products. Products like magnetic materials can be sold to your customers by providing ideas and applications they can use to excite their customers.

The great part of all of this is that magnetic materials do not require changes in equipment. They can be printed on any conventional press or on digital equipment especially on wide format presses using solvent, eco-solvent and latex inks.. Also, there is a resurgence of do-it-yourself printing. Where the trend for corporations, advertising agencies and direct marketing firms to outsource their printing, the advent of digital printing has cause a reverse in the trend in some ways. Many of these installations have no clue about printing on anything but rolls of paper...Here is where dealers can excel....Look for ways to educate the non-printing, new breed of printers on the value of using their equipment to print on magnetic media.

So between this DC editorial and the one in April, 2012 you should have enough to get you thinking about ways to learn about magnetic materials, understand how it can be used and have stimulation of ideas on how and to whom to sell the products. We have done our part - now it is up to you!

DC

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