19 Sep 2019

Fujifilm and Urban Storm stretch the limits in outdoor advertising


Urban Storm

It’s immediately apparent when talking to Sam Cook, director of UK-based Urban Storm, that here is a company setting out to make a real difference in the outdoor advertising and billboard sector. In order to do so, they have partnered with Fujifilm to make use of both its technological and business expertise.

Bristol & London-based Urban Storm has been in operation since 2001, specialising in the large format market, outdoor advertising and banner sector. Sam started out in 1989 with ‘Scaffoltising’ and so far has five patents to his name. He is also known for being the first company in the UK to wrap a building. From 2007 his partnership with co-director Kevin Shute has allowed him to focus on media expertise as well as his passion for engineering, differentiating Urban Storm from other printing firms.

Outdoor advertising has been suffering for some time as brand owners demand premium quality products, while site owners aim to reduce costs and alleviate negative effects on the environment. Recognising the need for something innovative to resolve this conflict, Sam and Kevin have been looking for ways to produce a high-quality, environmentally friendly and lower-cost (to the printer) outdoor system.

New horizons

The result is the design and patent of the STORMFLEX system. This is a rigid frame containing a number of patented quick release poster clamps which can each bear 85kg on light weight 110g polyethylene (PE), holding a fully recyclable PE ECOFLEX poster in place, and meeting all engineering standards required for outdoor use. The weight-bearing capacity of the clamps allows the poster to be fully tensioned in order that it remains drum-tight and the graphics lie completely flat, giving a high-definition finish. Further to reducing costs for clients, the increase in quality is so great that a perceived increase in the value of the site is also recognised.

“When considering our objectives for the new system, the environment was high on our list. PE material can be recycled into any number of other products after use, time and time again, unlike PVC which can only be recycled once”, says Sam. “It is also four times lighter than PVC, and has twice the strength; but the downside is that it’s also incredibly tricky to print on, and UV inks simply wouldn’t stick to it. But, we elected to develop a system using PE because we feel that this is the future of the outdoor advertising world, it meets the needs of the site owners who want to use less paper, and as I’ll explain, Fujifilm came to the rescue with regards to the inks."

“The system has also been designed to eliminate any finishing requirements as the material is stretched via the clamps into the aluminium frame. This cuts the cost of banner production by up to 50%, a potentially huge saving that enables printers to maintain margins in an increasingly difficult market.”

Overcoming challenges with Fujifilm expertise

In order to print effectively onto the PE material, Urban Storm was looking for a superwide format printer and ink technology that could provide the same depth of colour and vibrancy that can be seen on traditional pasted billboard hoardings.

Sam explains, “After a number of trials with different suppliers it was clear that Fujifilm was the only real contender. The business development skills demonstrated by everyone we have been in contact with, and their knowledge of UV ink development and manufacturing, is second to none.

“I have to say that we have been absolutely delighted with the advice from Fujifilm. We worked together to turn the output from the new Uvistar UV inkjet roll-to-roll printer from meeting low end output requirements to producing high quality, high volume work.

The Uvistar can print on rolls up to five metres wide, and in combination with the Uvijet QK inks that have been specially developed for PE, are perfect for Urban Storm’s STORMFLEX systems. “Fujifilm has gone to enormous lengths to ensure that the inks stick well, with fantastic resonance of colour and adhesion. I believe it will alter the way that material for both billboard and POP applications will be prepared in the future,” adds Sam.

Currently, designs are submitted to Urban Storm which uses its Uvistar to print 18m2 (48 sheet) posters onto the PE fabric, with guide marks for the clamps. The posters are then laid flat onto an air table, trimmed to size and can be packed immediately into a pizza-sized box for shipment. The sheets are dry when they come off the printer, there’s no nasty smell, they’re tough but extremely light and can be tightly folded for easy distribution. Sam explains, “We can produce up to 500 posters of 18m2 a day, printing posters every five to ten minutes, and are currently in operation 16 hours a day. From this it is easy to see how we have the potential to expand.”

The STORMFLEX system is incredibly simple to operate and enables one man to change a poster display in approximately 15 minutes. A far cry from the two men needed to paste up traditional billboards, which even for an expert could take anywhere between 25-30 minutes. It really does provide a remarkable time saving and environmental benefit with no pasting mess, no water needed, and no tools other than a winch required.

For outdoor advertisers and printers all over the world this system will open up new opportunities. With such a quick turnaround possible, more posters can be produced and changed over. This brings a huge number of commercial advantages for brand owners and finally enables outdoor advertising to become more of a premium advertising prospect.

In order to capitalise on this new opportunity, Urban Storm and Fujifilm will develop business plans with individual printers to show them what their ROI would look like, and how this can benefit their organisations.

Sam concludes, “There is no doubt in my mind that from now on we will look to Fujifilm for all printing requirements. The quality of service and development know-how has been exceptional.”


Beyond Digital Imaging Leverages HP Latex Inks for NASCAR Canada

Beyond Digital Nascar

Beyond Digital Imaging Leverages HP Latex Inks for NASCAR Canada


  • Beyond Digital Imaging required a new printer that offered outdoor and indoor application versatility with print-quality and display permanence comparable to low-solvent printers


  • The company selected the HP Designjet L65500 with HP Latex Inks to produce vehicle wraps for NASCAR Canada and for the Canadian Torch run for the 2010 Winter Olympics


  • Vehicle wraps produced for NASCAR Canada is an example of how Beyond Digital Imaging found new business opportunities with digital printing


Like moving billboards, vehicle wraps are gaining ground among marketers looking to make a visual impact with their campaigns.  One company that is at the forefront in developing these applications for customers is Beyond Digital Imaging of Markham, Ont., Canada.

Since its establishment in 1998, Beyond Digital Imaging has become one of the largest graphic printing companies in North America with a full range of digital printing technologies. The company's 70 employees create leading-edge marketing materials for advertising and design firms, retailers, sign companies and trade shows. One of Beyond Digital's most prominent customers is NASCAR Canada, which operates multiple auto racing sports events throughout the country.

As an Official Partner of NASCAR Canada, Beyond Digital Imaging creates vehicle wraps and banners for the organisation on an ongoing basis.  For example, when creating wraps for individual teams using HP printing technology in conjunction with media from 3M, the company produces up to 10 prints per car, per race due to the high-risk potential for damage. Beyond Digital Imaging showcased an example of its work with NASCAR Canada at the 2009 Auto Show in Toronto, where auto enthusiasts were able to see first-hand the cars wrapped by Beyond Digital Imaging and powered by HP technology. The wraps were produced using HP's Designjet L65500 printer.

In late 2008, Beyond Digital Imaging wanted to find a new printing solution that offered outdoor and indoor application versatility with print-quality and display permanence comparable to low-solvent printers. It also wanted to reduce the impact of printing on the environment, improve production turnaround time and boost productivity.  A long-time HP customer, the company selected the six-colour HP Designjet L65500 printing system featuring HP Latex Inks.

"This Latex printer from HP offers very high print quality and offered environmentally friendly ink with no odour. The prints now approach photographic quality," says Larry Chan, president, Beyond Digital Imaging. "The colour produced is absolutely brilliant. It's vibrant and UV resistant for both indoor and outdoor use without lamination or coating. The HP Designjet L65500 is able to produce the most vibrant, rock-solid vehicle wraps for customers like NASCAR Canada."

With the HP Designjet L65500, Beyond Digital Imaging is able to print rich, saturated colours and deliver applications that impress, from outdoor banners to POP displays. HP Latex prints provide many of the benefits of solvent-ink technology without imposing typical environmental, health and safety considerations. Odourless prints1 produced with HP Latex Inks emit extremely low levels of volatile organic compounds. There is no special ventilation required to meet occupational exposure limits and there are no requirements for air discharge permitting2, facilitating an improved printing environment. HP Latex Inks also achieve up to three years display permanence un-laminated, five years laminated and provide scratch, smudge, and water resistance compared to low solvent inks.

The HP Designjet L65500 has helped to improve the work environment for Beyond Digital Imaging's staff. "We have one of the best ventilation systems available but despite best efforts, solvent ink and smell are heavy at times when a few of the solvent printers are on," says Chan. "With the Designjet L65500, there is no smell and no extra ventilation required, which helps to improve overall working conditions."

Since installing the HP Designjet L65500, the company has been able to secure new business opportunities by offering new applications.  It is using HP's technology to develop large building wraps, wrap race cars and print numerous retail campaigns on short notice. The company also prints lenticular 3D projects, a multi-step process consisting of creating a lenticular image from at least two existing images to create various frames of animation for a motion effect.

Beyond L65500

For example, one of the company's recent projects with the HP Designjet L65500 required a sizable back lit "earth" image printed for a high end clothing retail customer in New York. Various printers in both the US and Canada had tried and could not meet the customer's expectations when it came to quality. It used the HP Designjet L65500 to provide a level of print quality that wasn't possible before - a key selling feature for new and existing customers.

Beyond Digital Imaging is also using the HP Designjet L65500 to wrap a series of vehicles and an interactive tractor and trailer to support the 2010 Winter Olympics Torch run which is travelling across Canada.

"We've been able to generate new business as a result of installing the L65500," says Chan. "In the area of vehicle graphics, this printer provides some stunning results that have 'awed' quite a few of our existing customers…and we always tell people the environmental benefits of the printer and our customers seem happy about it. I think they are happy they are getting the quality and price they are looking for, and that it is environmentally friendly."

With a total of 15 other HP printing systems, the company now has a full range of graphic capabilities including the HP Scitex TJ8550, the HP Scitex XL1500 and other HP Designjet printer models.

"HP is a rock solid company with the fullest range of digital print technologies than any other print manufacturer," says Chan. "They also have a very professional and knowledgeable staff to support any difficulties or concerns we may have."

Hampshire Flag Helps Arctic Adventurer Warm Up for Charity Race

Sheppard Image

One of the UK’s leading flag manufacturers is supporting one man’s attempt to complete a challenging race across the North Pole and raise £30k for a children’s bereavement charity.

Kevin Sheppard is undertaking the 350 mile race across the High Arctic to the Magnetic North in April and Hampshire Flag Company has donated three flags to help raise awareness of Winston’s Wish and for Kevin to take on the expedition.

The 39 year old from Gloucestershire is one of only 42 taking part in the High Arctic Race which will see Kevin battle against extreme dangers such as falling through thin ice, hypothermia and polar bears – all at temperatures of around minus 40 degrees.

Hampshire Flag is backing Kevin by providing three bespoke 68x38cm flags; two featuring the Team Sheppard/Winston’s Wish logos and one for another of Kevin’s sponsors, R&H Interiors, which won a competition to have its logo printed on a flag and taken to the North Pole.

Kevin lost his brother 26 years ago, due to a motorbike accident, when he was just 13 so Winston’s Wish, a leading authority in childhood bereavement, is a charity close to his heart.

He said, “When a child suffers the loss of a loved one, it has a devastating effect and my supporting Winston’s Wish I want to ensure that as many grieving children as possible are given the professional help they need so they can face the future.”

Also Kevin aims to inspire young children from all backgrounds to achieve their own aspirations, goals and ambitions through Team Sheppard.

“This mission will push my endurance to the test and I am delighted to have Hampshire Flag on board. The flags are fantastic and will be an invaluable source of inspiration and motivation during the race. I am very grateful to Hampshire Flag for its generosity and willingness to support me in my ultimate aims,” Kevin added.

Graham Wilkinson, Managing Director of the multi-award winning firm said, “We are proud to be part of this incredible challenge and it is awe-inspiring to think that are flags will soon be in the Arctic!”

“Kevin really is going to the ends of the earth to help bereaved children. It is our pleasure to be able to help by donating flags and the Hampshire Flag team wishes him all the luck in the world for the coming expedition,” added Graham.

Hampshire Flag’s team of 21 produces hand-sewn national and international flags and digitally printed banners. The Waterlooville firm also offers a bespoke flag design service, PVC banners, marine flags, bunting, table flags, exhibition graphics and event systems in addition to the supply and installation an extensive range of flagpoles.

Its prestigious portfolio of clients includes Selfridges, the BBC, Channel 4, Portsmouth Football Club, IBM and British Airways. Hampshire Flag supports various charities and expeditions including Action for Kids, Samaritans, Gumboots and for swimmer and environmentalist Lewis Pugh’s on-going feats.

Tadanori Yokoo's New Photo Exhibition Features Giant Mural of Tokyo Y- Junction


Tadanori Yokoo

Everything, from large-format prints to exhibition invitations, was produced using HP cutting-edge printing technology


Internationally renowned artist Tadanori Yokoo released a photography compilation based on his own signature work "Y-Junction." For the photography exhibition opened in commemoration of the publication, it was necessary to print high-quality photographs in various sizes that took advantage of the gallery's layout. In particular, it had been Yokoo's dream to create a large-format print, without join lines, that covers an entire wall.


  • HP Designjet L65500 Printer
  • HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer
  • HP Designjet Z6100 Printer
  • HP Premium Instant-dry
  • Gloss Photo Paper
  • HP Premium Vivid Color Backlit film
  • HP Indigo press 5500


  • The HP Designjet L65500 Printer was used to achieve a large-format print that covers an entire wall, without join lines. Additionally, an odourless exhibition was made possible even indoors with HP's unique HP Latex Inks.
  • High-quality photo printing in various sizes using HP Designjet Z3200/Z6100 Printers and genuine HP photography paper and film, realised the site-specific photography exhibition that Yokoo had imagined.
  • Invitations printed on an HP Indigo press 5500, achieving a photograph-like finish with lamination.

From paintings to photographs, seeking a new perspective on Y-junctions

Countless Y-junctions exist, not only in Japan, but also worldwide. Tadanori Yokoo was drawn to these usually unnoticed places and has continued to paint them for many years. With this artwork by Yokoo - who has exhibited his exceptional ability in various fields, including painting, film, plays, music, and literature - you'll enjoy original points of observation and unique global perspectives in condensed form; it's considered a true signature work.

Yokoo explains his theme. "Y-junctions are special places where one road forks into a 'Y' shape. In modern cities they are also extremely difficult to exploit usefully, and thus I sense their gradual demise. Perhaps I'm continuing to chase after a city landscape that will become extinct in the future."

Yokoo's creative output, with almost 100 painted Y-junctions, has gone from painting to the expressive medium of photography. Here, he focuses a new on Y-junctions but in a distinctly different way.

Eliminating people from Tokyo's Y-junctions

Yokoo describes his careful photography preparation. "While I had already taken many photographs of Y-junctions as painting materials, one day I decided to visit the Y-junctions in Tokyo and assembled them as a photo series. From the start I insisted on having no people in the photos. In Tokyo, where the presence of people is a given, I strove to portray Y-junctions non-realistically."

However, doing so was no easy task, as Yokoo explains: "Nowadays, with computer graphics, you can immediately erase people from photographs. But I didn't want to do that. I just kept waiting, committed, hoping that people would leave. Eventually that moment came, and when I opened the shutter it felt like my prayers had been answered."

Of the Y-junctions that Yokoo photographed in his meticulous exploration of Tokyo's 23 wards, outskirts, and islands, he chose 248 works for the photography compilation "TOKYO Y-JUNCTION." To celebrate, he is holding an exhibition by the same name at Nishimura Gallery, Chuo Ward, Tokyo, Japan.

There, Yokoo reflects on the importance of a giant, wall-size printed work. "When I visited Nishimura Gallery and was considering the exhibition artwork selection and layout, I thought how I'd like to hang a wall-size Y-junction photograph. I'd been pondering it for a while; once when I visited New York, I saw a giant photograph on a building and thought I'd like to do that in Japan sometime."

L65500 510

Cutting-edge digital printing technology that supported the exhibition

However, only one digital printer could meet Yokoo's special needs: HP Japan's large-format HP Designjet L65500 Printer, which facilitated the production of a wall-size work. The printer features the newly developed, odourless HP Latex Inks for more comfortable indoor exhibitions.

Standing in front of his newly printed giant-size work, Yokoo expressed delight with its high quality and reproducibility. "I was surprised at the lack of join lines in the print and that it had been completely printed as a single work. Standing in front of it, it feels like I've entered the actual Y-junction depicted."

Including the giant wall-size print, approximately 100 works were selected from the photography compilation for the exhibition. HP printed all the artworks, using the large-format photo printers HP Designjet Z3200 and HP Designjet Z6100. These printers have 12-ink and 8-ink printing systems respectively, use HP Vivera pigment inks, and deliver beautiful photo quality and high colour accuracy. In addition, HP printed the exhibition's invitations on an HP Indigo press 5500, which uses Electroink liquid ink technology to be able to do short print runs with offset printing quality.

In response to the high-quality digital prints enabled through this cutting-edge technology, Yokoo expresses his hopes for new art born from the conflict between analogue and digital. "An analogue human being like me can't keep pace with the digital world. However, I think that as the analogue and digital worlds move further and further apart, the impact of their eventual collision will be greater. That's why I hope HP continues to pursue cutting-edge printing technology, far ahead of my comprehension. Meanwhile, I might lean toward analogue or I might try to catch up with digital technology. Either way, our actions will spawn novel expressions in the new age."

Tadanori Yokoo:

(Yokoo's Circus Co.,Ltd.):


Nishimura Gallery:


Kokushokankokai Corporation Ltd:



Fujifilm Professional announce Distinctions Awards winners


Ikura Fuwajima

Fujifilm Professional has announced the winners of the latest Fujifilm Distinctions Awards.

The overall winner is Ukraine based photojournalist, Ikuru Kuwajima who collects a cash prize of £1,000 for his stunning image, 'Cossack Children with a Foal'. Ikuru's winning shot was taken on Fujicolor Superia 400.

Jason Andrew is runner-up and picks up £500 while Dom Moore was given third place and £250.

From the initial entries, submitted via www.fujifilmdistinctions.co.uk, the judges chose 20 Merit Awards, each Merit winner was asked to submit a print for final judging. The Awards were judged by Camilla Brown from The Photographers' Gallery, Aidan Sullivan from Getty Images, Photographer, Simon Roberts, and Jerry Deeney from Fujifilm Professional.

Simon was impressed by the winner: "Ikuru's entry has an awkward beauty about the pose, with the hand gestures of the children mirroring the foal's head. It's a really intriguing, atmospheric image that is reminiscent of a classic painting."

Runner-up Jason Andrew's image, drew this response from Camilla Brown: "There's real humour and juxtaposition in this photograph and it's beautifully shot. Jason obviously has a very keen eye for detail."

Aidan Sullivan commented on Dom Moore's third placed entry: "Dom's submission has a raw kind of innocence to it - it's a really sweet portrait."

For the first time, Distinctions was opened up to photographers from around the world, and over 5,000 entries were received, each taken on Fujifilm Professional film.

Jerry Deeney from Fujifilm Professional commented on the Awards: "I think the fact that the winner is based in Ukraine, the runner-up lives in New York and the 3rd placed photographer is from Devon perfectly illustrates the global nature of creative film photography. The level of entries was really impressive and the judges had a very difficult task in selecting the three main winners, it's so encouraging to see so many great photographs taken on film."

Further examples of Ikuru's work can be viewed at his website, www.ikurukuwajima.com

Since its launch in 2002, over 35,000 images have been submitted to Distinctions, making it one of the most prestigious professional photographic awards in the UK. Entry to Distinctions is free and is open to everyone, anywhere in the world.


Versatility of Andesign wins them prestigious National Express sign and display contract

Andesign National Express

The highly publicised opening of the new Birmingham coach station, one of the most important in the National Express network, was the result of a long project which involved the production and use of clear and innovative signs to promote the facility. Working with design company, Wayfinding Consultants, Sutton Coldfield-based Andesign was responsible for producing all the interior and exterior displays for the refurbished site using a mix of digitally printed and more traditional manufacturing methods.

It was Andesign's reputation which played a major part in winning this important contract, with the company providing the winning tender. Through continued investment in the latest production technologies, the business has grown steadily since its inception in 1995 and is now well-known nationally for its innovative range of services and attention to detail. Additionally, because of its comprehensive range of design and manufacturing facilities, the entire project was able to be handled in-house.

Consultation for the National Express work commenced in March 2009 with the project being completed just before Christmas. The broad variation of signs and displays was designed to represent a vital package to the customer as well as strong promotion of the brand, and it was essential that each one was informative and of high quality. This need was satisfied by Andesign's use of the latest technology combined with the durability essential to cope with the heavy human traffic using the new Birmingham coach station facility.

Andesign's brief encompassed every type of display required for the new coach station, including interior and exterior signs, plus a range of digitally produced graphics. In total more than 400 square m of vinyl and overlaminate were used, with a further 100 square m of 6 mm composite aluminium panelling being employed. Every element was manufactured and finished in-house, with installation carried out by the company's own specialist and qualified teams.

Andy Williams, director of Andesign, comments: "This was a major project for us and involved all of our production equipment, including our two new wide-format digital printers which give us UV-curable and very mild solvent-based ink-jet capabilities. With many more traditional processes also being involved, such as computer-cut text and built-up letters, we were able to complement these with new technologies.

Environmental considerations were high on the agenda, and no harsh solvents were present in any of the displays. For lighting, low cost long-life LED illumination was used throughout" Williams continues. "We also needed to comply with legislation by producing tactile and Braille signs in public areas yet keep within the design remit of the project."

Many of the displays were produced using Andesign's recently installed 3.2 m EFI VUTEk GS3200 using UV-curable ink and suitable for high-speed, full-colour quality output onto a broad range of rigid and flexible materials. This was complemented by another new addition, a Seiko I Infotech ColorPainter v-64s which utilises very low odour mild-solvent inks making it ideal for interior and exterior graphic applications on roll-fed media. The company's Zund XL1600 CNC router also played an important role in the finishing element by providing precise contour cutting and routing of the many different materials employed.

Jeremy Booker, brand design manager for National Express, states: "This is the first time we've worked with Andesign and we were very impressed with the attention to detail. The company pulled out all the stops to deliver striking signs that will welcome millions of National Express customers to Birmingham every year."

"We're delighted we were awarded the contract for this project," confirms Williams. "Our recent investment in the latest printing technology, which we believe no other wide-format digital print and sign specialist in the country is working with currently, has enabled us to offer a point of difference both to Wayfinding Consultants and to National Express."

"The result is high impact, visually appealing and, therefore, incredibly consumer friendly," Williams concludes. "We're also proud to be part of such a prestigious project right here in Birmingham."

With its UK head-quarters based at the Birmingham site, National Express's network of coaches last year carried some 16 million passengers around the UK. This coach station acts as a major interchange and the refurbishment, which opened officially on 18 December 2009, was estimated to have cost £15 million.

Further information is available from Andy Williams at Andesign, Unit F, 11-13 Coleshill Road, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham B75 7AA, telephone 0121 354 2272, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.