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Wood Prints Refresh Signage Offerings

Owner of Davis Sign Co. discusses projects and print potential.




Printing direct to substrate has been a diversifying push for San Rafael, California-based Davis Sign Co., says owner Milton Davis. Among materials from plastic and foamboard to aluminum and acrylic, the company’s prints on wood have been especially popular. Here, Davis talks about four recent projects, adding his top tips for printing on this unique substrate.

The Process
“Since we took delivery of our machine [an with white ink and a roll-to-roll option], it’s been running almost nonstop. The labor savings of printing direct to substrate is huge. It’s also opened more potential to many different markets.


“For these projects, we used 4 x 8-foot sheets of ¼-inch-thick unfinished and finished maple wood. A full sheet is optimal because the material is usually warped, and for us to print direct-to-substrate, the table must vacuum it down completely for optimal printhead height so we can maximize quality. We use a low heat lamp setting to keep the wood from warping. The prints are then cut with a table saw.”

White Oak Winery
“Originally the client wanted a canvas wrap with a wood backer. But at the time, I was printing ink to wood for another client and mentioned it as a cheaper alternative. Once I showed pictures of the technique and the cost savings, they were sold.”



Mike’s Bikes
“We have done some projects for them in the past, and during a pickup we got to talking about a project they were working on. They were using an old-school method of applying prints to wood via a process that creates an abstract look – which sounded awesome but was very labor-intensive, especially with the time crunch they were in. When I mentioned I could print directly to the same wood, we were able to help them out.”


Karl’s Art
“A neighbor and friend of ours creates black-and-white abstract art with super intricate details. During the process of vectorizing some of his work for printing on heavyweight paper, he saw our capability of printing on wood. We gave it a shot and it turned out really cool.”


Golden Gate Bridge
“The marketing and administration team at the Golden Gate Bridge district is one of our oldest clients. We were working on an anniversary gift for their office a few years ago, and we thought [printing on wood] would look different than anything anyone has seen.”




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