Pyramid Visuals

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Brussels 9th December 2010The EU Lisbon Treaty is being tested for the first time since its entry into force last year, said Avaaz and Greenpeace. The civil society organisations delivered an unprecedented citizens’ initiative signed by 1 million Europeans calling on the European Commission to ban GM crops until safety testing is made independent and scientific. The handover of the first-ever citizens’ initiative petition was marked by a world record-breaking digitally printed 3D art manufactured by large format printer Pyramid Visuals.

In early October, Weybridge based company Pyramid Visuals were contacted by Greenpeace International, to assist with the production and printing of an environmentally friendly, large format banner to help them promote the above cause when they unveiled it on the doorstep of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels to demonstrate the EU-wide objection towards genetically modified crops.

Having taken the brief from Greenpeace and discussed with them the logistics of printing, production and delivery, it was clear that this was going to be no ordinary task.

The artwork for the banner was being created in the US by American artist, Kurt Wenner, a world renowned street painter famous for his realistic 3D anamorphic street paintings.  Kurt drew the image in the US, replicating his infamous street art, by drawing it in sections before scanning and compositing the artwork prior to emailing it, also in sections (11GB) to Pyramid Visuals in the UK.  Once downloaded, our own in-house designers reformatted the images into printable sections and added the million legible signatures around the outside of the banner with perfect replication of the original artwork to create the world’s largest piece of anamorphic art.

From the outset, Greenpeace had specifically requested that the banner be printed on an eco-friendly material which Pyramid Visuals was duly charged with sourcing.  Although the number of requests from clients wanting to use ‘greener’ materials is increasing and the printing industry is beginning to manufacture a wider selection of eco-friendly products, the actual substrate chosen for this job was a specific environmentally friendly, non-PVC fabric material.

For the printing of the banner – which required an overall finished dimension of 22m x 22m – and to ensure quality replication of the artwork (including the one million legible protest signatures around the perimeter), the decision was taken to digitally print it in sections on Pyramid Visuals’ in-house Scitex HP XL1200 machine.  Once all sections had been printed, they then had to be welded together matching up each piece in accordance with the artwork to form a fully joined, large scale, circular fabric banner.

Once completed, the banner was carefully packed and personally driven from our office in Weybridge, Surrey to the European Commission in Brussels for arrival on the 9th of December 2010 by a Director from Pyramid Visuals who was on hand to assist Greenpeace with any issues relating to its unloading and prominent unveiling.

Pyramid Visuals are very proud to have been able to support Greenpeace in this record breaking high profile event as having recently been awarded an ISO14001 accreditation, we are a company that actively promotes and supports environmental matters.

In January 2010, prestigious advertising agency BBH London approached Rouge Films and Pyramid Visuals to provide vinyl wraps and graphics for their new Audi R8 television advertisement, having gained notoriety from their experience of working with TV productions on such projects as wrapping the Millennium Building for the Channel 5’s Gadget Show.

As an avid car lover and self confessed petrol head, Director Justin Murray was delighted, added to the fact that he has located Pyramid Visuals within Brooklands Park, the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit, constructed at Weybridge, Surrey in 1907.

The concept and storyline from BBH involved a theme of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, depicting Audi’s brand new R8 Spyder as the beauty surrounded by ‘beasts’ in the shape of some of the most marvellously beaten up old Hot Rods/stock cars in the world.
Production company Rogue Films sourced the 22 cars from all over the USA and UK.
The Hot Rods were then shipped directly to the Pyramid Visuals warehouse in Surrey for the transformation to begin.
In an intense race to the clock due to shipping delays, the Pyramid Visuals team of Graphic engineers worked as four teams of two, around the clock for four days to get the cars ready for the TV Commercial shoot.
Digitally printed on the HP9000 solvent printers, each car was given a unique and striking vinyl wrap design which was then carefully applied to each vehicle using Avery materials.
As the pressure mounted, the Rogue TV crew came to film the preparations and capture the progress of the Pyramid team as they worked their magic, turning each car into a personality.
The camera crew have produced a ‘making of the commercial’ documentary, which will be available to view in May on the Pyramid visuals website.
It perfectly captures the intensity and dedication of the Pyramid Visuals team to get the job done, perfectly, and on time – and naturally it was great to be part of ‘team Audi’.
On the day of the shoot everything was ready and the 4 day filming began.
Shooting in Excel London, the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story involved all the noise and the attitude of Hot Rods, each one carrying its own distinctive design such as a skull and crossbones, or a crazy mouth with big sharp looking teeth, driving furiously around and missing each other by inches.
Naturally the Audi R8 glides through the carnage and escaped unscathed, looking like the perfect hero. The Audi R8 Launch advertisement, shot in March is due to screen in the UK during May 2010, was an original concept created by Kevin Stark and Nick Kidney for BBH London, and is directed by Sam Brown from Rogue Productions.

To view the commercial, the making of the commercial documentary and all the Hot Rod cars and designs, go to Justin Murray, Pyramid Visuals commented. ‘In all truth, when I got the call I was very excited. Working on this type of project is a lot of fun and it’s exactly what we’re all about here, pulling together as a team to get the job done perfectly. We work on many vinyl wrap projects, so we’re used to turning it around quickly and getting it right first time and this proved to be key with the quick turnaround needed on this project.’ A spokesperson for BBH commented “The vehicle decals worked very well for this project. Pyramid Visuals managed to get the graphic designers ideas for the wraps and graphics into a reality making the cars characters really come out better than our expectations”

Press Further information on this press release including images, please contact Justin Murray – Pyramid Visuals either by email or 01932 338899.

Pyramid Visuals installs Spyder after calls for faster turnaround.

Pyramid Visuals has reacted to demands for faster turnaround by adding an Inca Spyder V large-format UV inkjet printer from Fujifilm.

The Surrey-based large-format specialist also expects to expand its level of work in the point-of-sale (POS) market.

Production director Scott Meader said: “Every machine we have is digital. The beauty of digital is that although a run may be 150 sheets, those 150 don’t have to be the same design.

“For example, a free-standing display unit may be intended for a product that is priced differently in London, Scotland, Newcastle and Ireland. The client can have the same design, but can change the price and not incur extra set-up costs. It means we can be really competitive in that market.”

Pyramid will handle short-run POS jobs on the machine and it is already running at capacity. It runs at speeds of 130sqm per hour and covers a print area of 3.2×1.6m. It can handle substrates up to 30mm thick.

Pyramid Visuals was founded in 1993 as a sign and signwriting supplier. It made the move into the digital arena six years ago

Signs go Signsbiz! With two sign companies recently involving themselves in television programmes, it looks as if the industry is poised to begin a whole new era!
In the first instance Pyramid Visuals,  was approached by Channel Five’s ‘The Gadget Show’ in May 2004 to undertake an experiment of vast proportions.
Together, Pyramid and The Gadget Show compared the difference in picture quality of the traditional professional quality film camera and the up- to- the minute digital cameras which were taking the market by storm.  Now, four years on, digital camera technology was again put to the test with Pyramid Visuals’ state of the art super wide digital printers and expert team.

Pyramid, well known for exceptional quality building wraps, exhibition stands, direct to media and large format digital printing, moved into the digital print market 5 years ago and is growing year on year: this year moving forward into the short run, point of sale market. As a result of this reputation, The Gadget Show trusted the Pyramid team to produce super scaled photo image prints of 17 metres high x 10 metres wide.

The Gadget Show presenters, Suzi and Jon were photographed in a studio using both cameras. The film negatives and memory chip were then handed to Pyramid Visuals to produce the super scaled banner poster prints. The Pyramid graphics team transformed the film image into an electronic format using a drum scanner, to demonstrate the full capability of the traditional camera and get the best printing results possible.

The images from the two cameras were sent from the Apple Mac to the Rip Station where they were then scaled to their final 17 metre x 10 metre size and split into four separate files for each of the four colour processes: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK). Once ripped the images were ready to print on the massive HP Scitex XL 5 metre super-wide digital print machine: built on the accomplishments of the market-leading Scitex XL Jet, which has become synonymous with quality and productivity. This digital printer delivers an impressive output of 85 square metres of digital print per hour, which ensures its position as the leading super-wide format printer in the market.

Pyramid selected fire retardant mesh material for this project, which is specially designed for large scale banners, building wraps and scaffolding covers. This type of printing has an 18 month warranty to resist against colour fading as a result of UV exposure, cracking, shrinking and tearing under normal conditions.

Using the market leading printers, it took just 5 hours to print the 340 square metre mesh posters. The rolls of print were then handed to the Pyramid Visuals specialist finishing team to weld the two parts of the posters together and re-enforce the edges with special webbing so that the large eyelets would carry the weight of 62kg super-size banner posters.  The finishing was done on a 14 metre hot air Millerweld Master, one of the country’s largest and fastest PVC welders.

Pyramid Visuals offer the complete package from conceptual design, printing, producing and finishing to the final installation of the product. Once completed the qualified installation rigging team took the banners to Millennium Point in Birmingham where they installed the large poster prints using a cherry picker.

Seven of the industry’s finest came together in November to discuss all things wide-format in the inaugural Image Reports Widthwise Round Table. The idea was to open debate on the real-life issues that affect printers in the sector. The participants did not hold back..

Equipment service and development issues, threats to business, opportunities for growth, predications for 2009 – all of these topics and more became a hot-bed of debate among key industry players at the first Image Reports Round Table held in London in November.

The purpose of this inaugural event was to discuss the points raised in the WidthWise Report, commissioned by this magazine as the first ever survey of the UK wide-format market and published at the beginning of the year, and to provide a backdrop to the next Widthwise Report which will be published in 2009. As anticipated, first-hand knowledge of running companies in the wide-format sector meant there was no shortage of thought-provoking feedback from panel members who, perhaps surprisingly given these straightened economic times, were rather upbeat about levels of business.

To ensure that no stone was left unturned, the discussion was broken down into various sections. Here’s how things played out…

“Macro Art moved three years ago behind a row of trees and the credit crunch zoomed down the road and didn’t see us,” said a bullish John Walker. “Our volumes are up 20%, our net profit is up 75% and we may be in for our best year ever. All our areas of business are growing strongly.”

In particular, Walker pointed to the successful introduction to its portfolio of anti-graffiti lacquer, saying that 23% of Macro Art’s turnover now demands its use. He also highlighted an outdoor display that with one switch can turn it from a day to a night-time product.

Grabbing a slice of the EU export market has also helped the company along. “We have a growing export market – the Euro/Pound exchange rate has been a gift to us,” he enthused. The company also recently made the bold move of raising prices, and added a flat-rate delivery charge as a disguised recovery fee for the price hikes it has seen in inks and substrates costs.

“I seem to live in two different worlds: during the day I inhabit a world where things are going OK, and then I go home to this world full of media coverage about how we’re all going into recession. Things may be harder that they should be for some, but we’re not facing the desperate scenario much talked about.”

This was a feeling echoed around the table, but with words of caution about times ahead from some. “I think the doom and gloom has been overhyped, but if you look at the financial fundamentals they have been shaken and the shockwaves are still coming. I haven’t seen a general slowdown in work, but a stuttering, spluttering effect and I think we’re going to get more heart attack moments as the world faces more economic shocks. My fear is that we’ll get irrational finance based decisions on cutting marketing budgets that will impact on us down the line,” said Stephen Hood.

For now, things aren’t looking as bleak as generally suggested. A number of people said they too had managed to raise prices during the year. And Justin Murray pointed out that he’s noticed an increase in the number of companies coming to him for quote. But, this is largely because companies, especially retailers, are having to seek out better prices and want to do comparative costings. “Obviously that kind of work can reduce your margins, but it may get you new clients for the longer haul,” he said.

The comment opened up many a wound on the topic of tight margins and price cutting. “Our sales have dropped in the last year but our margins have improved,” said Darren Marsh. “I’m only interested in work bringing in good margin. I’ve got rid of the rest.” Richard Clark agreed: “I take pride in the fact that we’re probably the most expensive [vehicle wrapping company]. I’d rather profit over turnover any day of the week.”

“As an industry we’re renowned for cutting prices to get volume,” added Graham Clark. “We must stop selling print as a commodity and treat it as a service.” On the whole the panel agreed, with various members quoting ludicrously low figures that they’ve heard of across the sector.

“It’s about creating an interdependence between you and your customers,” added Walker. “If you pull your finger out to help them they won’t go to someone who’s charging £2 a square metre less.”

Finding finance naturally came to the fore in this part of the debate. Most have found it increasingly difficult to raise finance through the bank, which they joked would perhaps prevent more start-ups adding to the competition! “We have a fixed rate three year credit deal with the bank and I make sure we trade within that limit. It makes you more disciplined, especially in getting paid up front,” said Richard Clark.

That took the panel onto the issue of increasing bad debt, with a 90 day cut-off period becoming the norm. Putting customers on stop credit has also proved problematic, with Murray saying he’s had so many companies on stop that he’s been force to look for new clients. Credit ratings were slammed for being out of date and therefore pretty useless, and late payment charges, while added by some, were found difficult to enforce in reality.

Mark Simpson said his group is not suffering from bad debt because it insures against all such losses. Some said they do likewise, but others, such as Murray and Marsh, find the insurance costs more than the bad debt!

The need to diversify was a key finding in the Widthwise Report but there were mixed feelings among the panel as to what that would actually mean for them.

“Going into new markets is risky, especially where it means investing in new equipment,” said Simpson. “We try to introduce new products within the markets we know. Retailers are being bought up and we’re becoming very involved in helping with rebrands – we have a brand development company and the production group works closely with them.”

“We’ve actually taken on sales people specifically to look into new areas for us, for instance we’re talking to morgues,” said Graham Clark. Murray said Pyramid Visuals has also taken on extra sales staff to look into markets new to the company, mainly in POS. “About five percent of our clients have gone into administration this year so we’re having to look further afield,” he pointed out. “We do a lot of vehicle graphics, which has been healthy over the last six months but I think that is going to start falling away.” Richard Clark agreed: “Potentially, vehicle graphics is a shrinking market because vehicles are being sold in lower volumes.”

Walker said he can see one new market sector emerging, though he was unprepared, understandably, to enlighten the rest of the panel as to what that might be.

Service was the hot potato when it came to kit and suppliers, with many of the panel extremely dismayed at the treatment they receive.

“We spend £100,000 a year on service contracts with a certain company, and yet we have had to wait weeks for someone to sort out a problem machine,” said one panellist. “We sometimes end up having our own engineer on the phone – a bill I’m paying for – to talk to the manufacturer so they can talk him through the service required to a machine.”

Hood said: “We’ve got a supplier who said it would charge us £5,000 for a maintenance manual for one of our machines if we were fed up with their service and wanted to handle it ourselves.”

Marsh got so fed up with waiting for a supplier to come and fix one of his printers that he told his bank that he was not going to pay the £7,000+ he had outstanding on the machine and that the bank could have it because it was not fit for purpose. “As far as the supplier was concerned I was just some piddly little outfit that they didn’t want to listen to – I thought the bank may have more clout. Some manufacturers just care that if you have a machine down you’re stuffed.”

“Lack of stock in the UK is another problem,” added Walker, to which there was much agreement.

It wasn’t all bad: Richard Clark said service isn’t really an issue as far as he’s concerned as his machines run fine and he’s only had to call out an engineer once in four years.

Outside of service issues, the technology part of the programme dwelt on kit living up to expectation, an issue almost everyone found was a problem. Hood summed up the mood: “Part of the problem is that manufacturers create disillusionment. They say a printer can do this and that but practical terms it just can’t. We need a more realistic and practical approach. We are the suppliers’ customers, but how well we mesh together? Well, we don’t.”

“The thing that annoys me is this talk of a machine running at X speed in quality mode, and X speed in production mode – is that just more crap than quality mode?” asked Simpson.

“We recently bought a machine and found it ran 30% slower than the quoted speed,” added Murray. “Buying on quoted speed is stupid – you need to do your homework.”

Difficulties in colour matching and profiling came under the microscope too, the consensus being that there is never going to be an easy solution. “I still see this as a nightmare area,” continued Hood, a point of view echoed by most of the panellists. “We have an issue with profiling so the kit supplier blames the materials manufacturer and vice-versa. We go around in circles.”

“Even the experts can’t get it right,” said Richard Clark. “I get all these specialists to come in and they know less than me – so we have no option but to try and deal with it ourselves. The problem is you have to profile each material you’re going to use with every machine you’re going to use it on. It’s unrealistic for the suppliers to do that.” Marsh admits that when he buys a new machine he throws the manufacturer’s profiles away and sets up his own.

“You’re never going to get an industry standard in profiling/colour management. There’s no standardisation across software, so if customers are using different software and profiles you’re still going to have problems,” added Simpson.

This was a topic of real contention, with stridently different views. “There’s a real commercial benefit to having various accreditations – not just in using them as a sales tool but because they make you get your house in order,” said Simpson. Graham Clark echoed the feeling, adding: “The environment is a great sales tool. We find very few clients who won’t sit down and talk about what you can do in these terms, because they need help too.”

Though this was a widely accepted view, there were those who feel the environment is a bit of a red herring. “We do see ‘green’ as a sales tool, and if you’re involved in anything to with the likes of print for the Olympics in 2012 then you have to be pretty on hot on being able to show environmental responsibility, but I did a customer analysis and found 70% don’t care about the environment. We’re having a major drive to get our collect and recycle print initiative moving so we’ll see,” said Walker. This prompted Murray to add: “We offer a recycling facility and no-one has taken us up on it: customers just won’t pay to get their waste back to us.” Hood further added: “I’ve been surprised by the number of customers saying they’re really not interested in the ‘green’ argument.”

“There’s so much hypocrisy,” stressed Marsh. “On EU tenders there’s a big section on the environment but when we went to talk to about how we could use a substrate that wasn’t vinyl we were told they were duty bound to take the lowest quote, so out suggestion was out of the window. Yet if I put the wrong bit of rubbish in the wrong bin outside my house the same council would fine me.”

There was an overall acceptance that the use of PVC in the sector needs to be addressed and alternatives found as customers shy away from its use. And the issue of landfill continues to create problems, with the likes of Richard Clark saying he can find no good way of getting rid of waste vinyl and release liners. Graham Clark offered up that he has found companies that will incinerate such waste, which then produces power so proves a ‘greener’ alternative to landfill.

“The problem is that it’s often about perception rather that realities,” said Murray.

Many of those around the table initially focussed on production skills training, with difficulties in pre-press becoming apparent, especially in terms of the need to educate designers on how to provide print-ready files. As to whether that is the printers’ job was an arguable point.

“I think we are talking too much about technical training and not enough about training in general,” came the call from Simpson. “I see the real training gaps as being in general business areas, such as management leadership, marketing, better negotiation skills. We find that when we try to find good managers/sales within the industry there just isn’t enough talent out there. We went on a course last year to improve our recruitment process we that we can find better talented young people – this industry can be too myopic.”

Future gazing
Here’s a précis off the predictions the panelists offered for the next three years:

Darren Marsh

1. Total market spend in wide-format will grow
2. Our POS work will develop
3. Green issues will become more important
4. Latex inks will make inroads

Stephen Hood

1. Irrational budget cutting due to general economic fears

Justin Murray

1. POS will grow
2. Dye-sub will prove the new technology
3. Vehicle branding and building wrapping will be static

Graham Clark

1. Olympic effect will boost wide-format

John Walker

1. More investment in UV and dye sub
2. Olympics will help wide-format
3. Swinging cuts to media budgets in 2009

Mark Simpson

1. More consolidation due to overcapcity

Richard Clark

1. Vehicle wrapping will grow longer term but 2009 difficult
2. Anticipates a UV vinyl for vehicle wrapping

Print Week October 2008

Killer app… The Monument building wrap

WHAT A giant lifelike print of the exterior of historic London landmark The Monument to The Great Fire of London, hiding restoration works taking place on the building.

WHO The building wrap was printed by Weybridge-based super-large-format firm Pyramid Visuals.

WHERE The Monument is a 61m-tall structure located in the City of London. It stands exactly 61m from Pudding Lane, where the fire of London is believed to have started in 1666.

HOW Before creating the artwork, Pyramid Visuals took high-resolution photographs of the structure capturing it at all angles, which were then printed on a mesh-material with high tear resistance. Four of these were produced on an HP Scitex 1500 and joined using a hot-air welder. The sky scene was artificially imposed by the print firm.

WOW As the building represents a momentous point in the history of London, it was important the print looked realistic as tourists continue to visit the site while The Monument is being worked on. The wrap was attached to the scaffolding by a team of abseilers who had to match up the four sides precisely to create a lifelike image. Detailed assessments of weather conditions were needed, which showed that the wrap couldn’t be attached to the top of The Monument as the strong winds in the area would cause a vortex

Pyramid Visuals was founded in 1993 to produce a range of promotional graphics for car dealerships. Now employing 25 people it has built up a substantial product offering for the indoor and outdoor signage markets. Based in Weybridge, Surrey UK, it specialises in producing a range of large to super-wide print including posters, fleet vehicle livery, signage, exhibition displays, event branding, film and television backdrops, window displays and building wraps for its customers.

Pyramid : Case Study Background

Prior to investing in HP’s digital technology Pyramid Visuals thoroughly researched the printers available on the market. “Our customers are all market leaders in their field, therefore the print quality of our work needs to reflect this. We spent six months investigating the presses and it was our opinion that the print quality of HP’s digital printers was second to none,” said Scott Meader, production director, Pyramid Visuals.

The company purchased its first HP press in 2002, installing the UK’s first HP Scitex XL1200 and has continued to invest in HP’s digital printing technology. The company currently operates six HP presses including an HP Scitex XL1200, a recently purchased HP Scitex XL1500, two HP Designjet 9000s and two HP Designjet 5500s.

Enabling sustainable growth into new markets.

“Investing in a combination of HP ink technologies – solvent and aqueous – has not only allowed us to start producing a wider variety of products but also to move into new markets,” explained Justin Murray, managing director, Pyramid Visuals. “After installing our first HP Scitex press we started to undertake a broader range of jobs and moved into producing print for the outdoor market. Customer demand for our work was so high that we invested further in HP’s digital technology, purchasing our HP Designjet printers so that we could produce the complete range of printed collateral needed for indoor and outdoor events and exhibitions.”

Pyramid Visuals uses its HP Scitex XL1200 and its HP Scitex XL1500 to produce vehicle wraps, billboards, backdrops, banners, indoor and outdoor signage and building wraps.

“Our HP Scitex presses are incredibly versatile and allow us to print on a wide range of media including canvas, mesh, self adhesive vinyl and paper, allowing us to be flexible when meeting our customers’ needs,” explained Meader. “We have recently completed a series of exhibition stands where we had to print on carpet. The presses coped with printing on this difficult substrate brilliantly; images were crisp owing to the high definition print quality.”

The term “eye catcher” enters a new dimension where advertisements adorn entire building facades. The question of how such large-format images are created is answered by English enterprise Pyramid Visuals Ltd. The Weybridge-based digital print specialist is primarily known for its high-quality vehicle graphics, created using vinyl print techniques. Fully aware of the fact that visual communication of brands and companies is becoming increasingly important, Pyramid visuals provide clients with new ways of addressing the public.

Together with two friends, Justin Murray began designing, producing and applying advertising, decorative and informative graphics for vehicles in 1993. This business was made viable thanks to vinyl printing techniques coming into their own, techniques which promised drastic quality improvements over conventional printing. “Having a background in the arts, I was able to dedicate my creativity to Pyramid visuals’ work from the very beginning,” reports managing director Justin Murray. “Based on our initial success, we gradually opened up new fields of business. Today, we mainly offer graphic designs for vehicle, the design and production of signs and large- format digital print.”

The experts for large-format designs, many of which cover entire building facades or attract attention at trade shows, have recently extended their portfolio, although vehicle graphics have remained the core competence of Pyramid Visuals. In the fields of business, the company cooperates closely with a number of advertising and marketing agencies whose ideas are then created by Pyramid Visuals.

Advertising that cannot be ignored is usually an unachievable ideal for many companies wishing to present products or services in the best possible way. Considerable wastage is often regarded as a necessary evil in advertising, Pyramid Visuals proves that it can be avoided. The company has gained an excellent reputation in large-format advertising, and real-world applications bear out this claim, in keeping with the motto “think big”.

The Large-format vinyl prints open up new avenues in marketing. They may be more expensive than conventional signs and banners, but effectiveness analyses conducted by the advertising industry have shown that such adverts are economically viable. The towering print, which can also be designed in such a way that they cover only certain parts of a building facade, will definitely leave a lasting impression on people. Depending on their size they can be seen from great distances. Both complex images and simple messages can be accommodated, which, due to their purist design and memorable lettering, can be grasped in a fraction of a second. Vinyl prints are not only used in advertising, but are also suited for veiling buildings during construction or refurbishment work.

Considering the downturn development of the effectiveness of classic visual advertising, Pyramid Visuals offers clients promising new marketing options, for instance as part of a company’s corporate design strategy or for classic advertising. The digital printing machines used by Pyramid Visuals will print on almost any material with a maximum width of five metres; the maximum resolution goes up to 1,440 dpi. The possible applications for these large-format prints include vehicles, truck canvases, exhibition signs, backgrounds and backdrops for films, theatre and television, building facade advertising, banners and signs. Pyramid Visuals’ service portfolio ranges from design conception and production all the way to the installation.

Without exception, Pyramid Visuals utilises state-of-the-art technology in its projects, which guarantees a maximum of quality and flexibility. Equally important as a success factor is the motivation of its employees, whose expertise and dedication ensure that many first-time customers become satisfied repeat customers. “Nowadays, we are active on a worldwide scale,” relates Justin Murray. “This is particularly true in the case of trade shows, one of the most important being Las Vegas, where our competence can be appreciated at numerous presentation booths.”

Pyramid Visuals has been enjoying healthy growth for a number of years. With twenty-four members of staff, the company generated around two million GBP in the past business year. Distributors support the company in most European markets. “One of the reasons for our excellent development has been the success of our international clients, some of whom have seen remarkable growth,” adds Justin Murray. “All production is carried out in Great Britain. For the installation work, We rely on competent service teams. We offer our clients a complete service portfolio that leaves nothing to be desired. It is always a pleasure for us to present our clients with innovative ideas, aimed at adding attractive perspectives to their corporate identity or product presentations.”

Pyramid puts its money where its mouth is

In common with many other companies who embark on the lengthy transition between general sign-maker and all round graphics provider, Pyramid Visuals initially cut its colour teeth on the Gerber Edge, the thermal transfer printer first introduced by Spandex nearly a decade ago, which produces outdoor durable graphics directly on to vinyl. However, whilst most companies mark their next step down the colour route with the purchase of an Arizona or one of the new generation low-cost, solvent ink-jet printers, Pyramid has gone the whole hog and in a grand gesture, has splashed out on a Scitex XLjet. To compliment its investment in this six-colour ink-jet printer wasn’t enough, the company has also invested a further £250,000 in the purchase of a Miller Weldmaster, a machine that uses heat pressure to create highly durable, yet inconspicuous seals and seam to assist in the creation of perfect banners.

The man behind this bold enterprise is Pyramid’s chairman John Fidler, whose totally endearing “in for a penny, in for a pound” philosophy, will, he believes, pave the way for Pyramid to become one of the industry’s foremost trade suppliers. Speaking at the opening day of the company’s new 6,500 square ft headquarters in Byfleet, Surrey, Fidler explains that this latest expansion comes some ten years after Pyramid was first established in nearby Woking. He says: “The acquisition of the Gerber Edge originally provided us with the means to expand into digital colour and thus to broaden our area of operation, in fact, this aspect of the business has been so successful that increasingly, we have had to outsource some of our printing work, a clear indication that is was the right time to substantially increase our own facilities.”

Fidler’s background is actually in engineering which may go some way towards explaining his entrepreneurial zeal, but managing director Justin Murray, who along with production director Lester Meader is responsible for the day-to-day running of Pyramid, is equally enthusiastic. “We want to provide others with the sort of service that we wish we had had access to,” Murray says, adding that Pyramid’s experience of outsourcing revealed that there is a ready-made niche for it to occupy. He continues: “We’ve realised that there is a real opening for a discreet and reliable trade supplier who also understands the needs of sign-makers and their special requirements for durability. We are aiming to become the first port of call for many sign companies when a project incorporates a colour element that they can’t produce in-house.”

Once this course had been agreed upon, a major capital investment was, says Fidler, the only sensible option. “We felt that rather than purchasing an interim level printer it would, in the longer run, make more commercial sense to acquire a super-wide, high production machine that was versatile enough to accommodate anything from posters to billboards and everything in between.”

After carefully considering all of the various options on offer, the Scitex XLjet 3 emerged as the clear favourite. Fidler and Murray agree that it was the vibrancy and quality of the colour reproduction that finally swung it in the XLjets favour, but the fact that it is one of the fastest printers in its class, outputting at 75 square m/hour, coupled with the fact that it can switch effortlessly be between four-and six colour printing onto wide variety of different substrates, were also important considerations. And in order to make the most of its blistering speed, Pyramid has also invested in a hot air solvent diffuser system that will help to accelerate drying time and thus pave the way for the XLjets 24-hour a day operation, which Fidler identifies as an ultimate goal.

Remarking that this extra purchase, along with the installation of the mighty Miller Weldmaster, underlines Pyramid’s total commitment to the task in hand, Fidler says that his long years of experience in the engineering industry have taught him that dedication to quality is of paramount importance. He says: “in addition to our investment in capital equipment, we have also allied ourselves with leading vinyl manufacturing Avery in order to offer the Avery MPI Supreme Cover for the graphics that we produce, thus ensuring that our customers receive a guarantee from the film manufacturer as well as the assurance that comes with using Scitex inks and equipment. In addition, we will be using Spandex as our materials supplier of choice and will also be able to call upon its extensive knowledge of the sign industry whenever we need it. I think all of this combines to illustrate our determination to get it absolutely right.”

At present, Pyramid employs a staff of 14, including four field-based sales representatives covering Kent, Essex, Sussex, London, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire plus two in house sales people who will be promoting the new facilities up and down the country. Murray is keen to welcome further recruits, particularly those who can demonstrate a real talent for all aspects of colour management. “We’d be interested in talking to anyone who thinks that they can usefully add to the scope of our skills and service.”

This is echoed by Fidler who adds that, whilst the company’s main target is the trade customer. He is also interested in discussing how Pyramid can help other colour producers expand their own facilities. His refreshing robust attitude is summed up in the following statement: “The demand for digital colour is increasing all of the time it’s certainly a big enough cake and, provided we work together, everyone involved in all sectors of the industry will get a fair share.”

Woking News & Mail December 2002

If you spotted a distinctive bright pink Ford Focus scurrying around during the recent Breast Cancer Week you may have been impressed with the special spray job that looked like hours of work by a graphic craftsman and air brush wizard.

Well it wasn’t. Like the other nine vehicles in the promotional fleet it was printed by a Woking company that will readily tackle lorries, buses, carpets, even buildings. Pyramid Visuals which has just moved into new premises in Oyster Lane, Byfleet, is able to take this “can do and will do” attitude because they have just spent hundreds of thousand of pounds on a supremely capable new press, the first of its kind in this country. Calling it a large format printer is something of an understatement.

Imported from digital printing experts in Israel it will not only print up to 3m wide and as long as you like, but on virtually any material from canvas to vinyl or the previously mentioned carpet.

Nothing phases this young company that has become the darling of international advertising and promotional agencies desperately seeking new publicity media as traditional above the line advertising loses impact with jaded consumers.

Marketing manager and company director Justin Murray explains: “Our new facilities in this purpose adapted building are really attracting a wide range of customers because the process is so flexible and produces fabulously high quality. “We can apply a totally new livery to a vehicle for instance, and remove it so the van or lorry is back to its old look in 24 hours.

“On the other hand our shrink wrap finish will last for three years or as long as six if it is laminated. Anything the designer conceives can be achieved. It is really up to their creativity and we have our own graphic experts in house who fully understand the capability of this powerful new machine.

“We can print 75 square metres an hour using a six colour process at 720 DPI. We have also installed a hot air welding machine, only the second in the country, which works 10 times faster than traditional methods.

“We have treated exhibition stands at the Paris Air Show for Rolls Royce, wrapped a building in central London and undertaken promotional projects on vehicles for Vimto, Heineken and Adidas. “Of course a lot of our work comes from advertising agencies but we are quite capable of working on smaller projects for local companies. We are being visited by a fine artist from the United States who is so impressed with the quality we can achieve he is considering using us to produce limited edition prints on canvas.”

Pyramid Visuals looks as bright as a new pin with its refurbished premises and new plant but as part of the Pyramid Visuals group its history goes back a decade.

Justin formed the company with other members of his family when he was 19 and uses the title marketing manager rather than director because he thinks his youth (he is still under 30) could work against him. “We were a traditional sign company initially operating out of a stable at my parents’ home in Chobham. We then moved into Woking town but have now made this massive leap. “We are aiming to move our turnover from £300,000 to around one million in about six months which is very necessary given the investment we have made.”

Justin is confident. After all, he has got just about everything else wrapped up.