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Case Studies

Science Goes on Tour

A shop halfway across the country creates educational graphics for a Seattle client.



The Client Seattle Children’s Research Institute

The Players Farber Specialty Vehicles, Applied Graphics

Tools & Supplies
Mimaki JV33, 3M Controltac 180Cv-10 vinyl, Zund flatbed cutter

The Job
When creating this mobile research lab that visits students in grades 4-8 throughout Washington state, for the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, neurologist and manager of the institute’s Health & Science Education Outreach program Mark Ruffo wanted scientifically accurate graphics that were still fun and engaging. “We wanted the exterior to be appealing not just to kids, we wanted adults to understand [the graphics] and be curious too,” he says. The mobile lab was a custom creation fabricated by Farber Specialty Vehicles in Columbus, Ohio. All of the company’s graphics jobs go to Applied Graphics in Mansfifeld, Ohio.

Production Ruffo and Amanda Jones, director of programming for the institute,
collaborated on the wrap design with the help of Seattle branding fi rm Methodologie, settling on the idea of using various educational icons that could be incorporated into teaching lessons. Methodologie ensured that the stock images used were large enough and did some color correction. “Part of our vision was to have colorful but accurate depictions of science—nothing too cartoony,” Ruffo says. “We wanted playful but not childishly playful.”

Ruffo used Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to place the images on the schematic of
the bus, Methodologie did the rendering. Applied Graphics had to do minimal tweaking
to avoid seams and other stumbling blocks (the bus features various access doors plus exterior outlets and a monitor).

The graphics were output using the shop’s Mimaki JV33 printer onto 3M Controltac
180Cv-10 vinyl and were installed by one person over the course of three days.

The mobile lab, which gives students a chance to isolate and view their own DNA, among other science lessons, has a full schedule through the 2009-2010 academic year, so those graphics will get a workout. “We point to the DNA and chromosomes on the outside of the bus,” Ruffo explains. “It’s great because by the end, the kids are like, ‘I recognize what that is now.’”


A local car dealership also donated a Subaru Forester to the program to act as a support vehicle while the bus is on tour. Seattle-based Graffix Inc., which had done previous work with the institute, wrapped the vehicle with a scaled-down version of the bus graphics. “This was a full wrap,” as opposed to individual graphics, says Graffix owner Chris Richardson. The Subaru was originally silver, but the wrap, printed on an Epson GS600, turned it white. Graffix was given the files for the original bus layout, and redesigned the wrap in-house by removing a few graphics in Adobe Photoshop.  The job required three days and one installer.

Applied Graphics

Farber Specialty Vehicles

Graffix Inc.



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