Written by Juan Fernandez

The future of graphic printing is...roller skating? Faena Art in Miami Beach, Florida commissioned Thomas Printworks to print out a roller skating rink that can easily be installed and removed. The idea behind this project is to bring artwork to the masses via a free event at an exclusive venue.

It all started with an idea. What material can be used to create a 65-foot skating rink? How would it be installed and removed without wear-and-tear damage? Would it withstand the rigors of transport from the Thomas production facility to the Faena Forum building month after month? After long discussions, the team came up with three possible concepts.

The first concept entailed using direct printing onto ¾ inch thick plywood. Once that piece was printed, they would then apply a polyurathane coating over the entire image for protection. Then each panel piece would be cut out (routed) into jigsaw-looking puzzle pieces so that they would interlock for easy install. All panels were made 8 feet by 4 feet so as to keep standard sizing.

The second concept called for direct printing of the selected image onto ¼ inch high density white PVC. Once printed, pebble lamination was applied over all images for protection. This would help to protect the graphic itself as well as all skaters. These panels were also routed out in jigsaw shapes for interlocking installation purposes. Concept two also kept all panel sizes at 8 feet by 4 feet.

The final concept was a reverse direct print of the selected image onto G floor woodgrain. Once all panels were printed a white adhesive vinyl backing was added over the image for protection. This method also called for low tac tape to be applied to the bottom of the panels for easy removal. These panels were also kept at 8 feet by 4 feet for standardization.

After long hours of evaluation and testing, the conclusion was to combine the three concepts because it would work best for long-term wear-and-tear and easy install and removal. All three concepts on their own would not have ensured the results needed for this particular project to succeed. The team’s decision to combine the three ideas showed an out-of-the-box initiative required for the completion of the skating rink. This project has helped open up the thinking in production as well as in finishing to fascinating new possibilities. If a skating rink is possible, then the possibilities are endless.

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