In February of 2018, the owner of FleetWrap HQ, Steve Cortez, was invited to HP Barcelona headquarters to participate in an exclusive event to develop the future of Large Format Graphics and 3D Printing. We’re sitting down with Steve to talk about his experience with the HP team and where he sees the future of printing technology driving the vehicle wrap industry.
What can you tell us about your experience in Spain?
Back in Feb 2018, I was invited out to HP Barcelona for a week. We were invited to give our insight into what the future of printing should look like and what our opinions were. Our company was one of eight selected throughout the world.
Why was FleetWrap HQ selected?
We were selected due to the volume of vehicle wraps we design and print and how long we’ve been in the industry doing them. The other companies specialized in other forms of printing, and some did offer vehicle wraps as well, but it wasn’t their main focus.
What was your first day on the HP Barcelona campus like?
On the first day, the eight of us sat in front of a panel of HP Engineers, Designers, Developers, and other staff. We would be questioned and surveyed while some of the others that were invited sat behind double-sided mirrors and others in the auditorium. We were tested and given assignments. Every time one of us answered, the HP gurus would take notes. It was a little weird but cool at the same time. We did this for the first three days.
What were some of the things you wanted from a printer or how you thought it should work?
The addition of white ink so we could print on darker colored vinyl was probably the most important feature we were looking for. Some of the other major things that we were interested in included:
• Faster print speeds
• Quicker ink drying time
• Lower temperature settings
• Easy to move and able to fit through a standard doorway
What did you do after the three days?
So, after the three days, they rolled in this life-size, science project-looking, Frankenstein-like printer that was a rough idea of our collaborative answers from the previous days. It was made of cardboard, tape, PVC, and a little 3D printing.
It was actually really amazing to see what they had developed in such a short time. None of us had any idea that they were making this, so we were all amazed when the HP team rolled it in. They invited us to examine the printer as they all watched from behind a mirrored glass while we walked around it and talked amongst one another about the changes and things we would still like to see from a printer.
How did the HP team use your feedback?
The very next day, a new printer appeared, with the new suggestions from the day before. This time, the HP team used much more 3D printing, less cardboard, and tape, and it was now starting to look like an actual printer. Every suggestion the eight of us had made and discussed between each other had been applied to the design. It was jaw-dropping to see how fast and accurate the printer was developing.
How many times was this process repeated?
This happened two more times. Every time the printer looked more like the real thing. The last printer that was rolled in looked life-like and fully functional. Although it wasn’t completely functional, some of the parts did fully move and operate the way they would in the final product. It was incredible to see the technology and engineering power the HP team had at their fingertips.
That’s incredible that they were able to take those ideas and build something in such a short time.
It was amazing to see the HP team do this all within a week. It was mind-blowing to see everything we had discussed about the future of printing, what a printer should do, and how it should function sitting right before our eyes.
How do you feel this new printer technology will affect printing and the vehicle wrap industry?
For FleetWrap HQ, it will be huge! This printer will reduce some of the stress when dealing with fast-paced business owners who need to get their fleets on the road. Faster speeds, quicker dry times, and the addition of white ink are huge for us. Customers will be able to get their vehicles on the road faster, allowing their techs and employees to be productive earlier than ever before.
At the beginning of the event, all attendees were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements until the new printer was released. While that date was originally slated to be in 2020, due to COVID-19, it had to be delayed until February 2021. The FleetWrap team is excited about the release of the HP Latex 800W and what it will contribute to the future of printing.