By Jill C. Lafferty
XLprints began in owner Andy Lotia’s garage with a vinyl cutter. Fifteen years later, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is committed to being on the leading edge of fabric printing and finishing services, as well as green initiatives.
“Andy has always been one of the first to adopt new technologies,” says XLprints sales manager Usman Ali. “We were the first company in the USA to offer an online ordering system for wide-format digital signage. We have printers to print a wide variety of substrates, from dye sub to UV and solvent. Our smallest printer is 10 feet and the biggest is 16 feet wide.”
The cornerstone of XLprints’ commitment to sustainable business practices is a line of “green” substrates, including a 100-percent recycled polyester fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. But the effort goes deeper into day-to-day operations in the company’s 18,000-square-foot facility.
“We buy 100-percent renewable energy,” says Ali. “We try to use minimal paper for processing each job by putting the whole system online.”
With 15 employees, XLprints takes advantage of its strategic location next to the San Jose International Airport and a FedEx hub to meet tight turn-around times for clients nationwide. The company offers a wide range of applications, from trade show displays to vehicle graphics to murals and stage backdrops.
“We are seeing a shift from trade show displays to each company holding a whole event for a product launch,” Ali says. “So, a lot of backdrops and event signage.”
Ali describes one recent job that really showed off what XLprints is capable of producing: a 15-by-9-by-3-foot cereal box.
“The client made the whole frame with round aluminum rods, and wanted us to print a wrap for it,” Ali says. “They wanted to print each side as full panels without any seams. There was going to be print on all four sides. We decided to make all four sides with the same fabric to give it consistency—this meant no spandex, and our stitching had to be very accurate. Secondly, the customer wanted a hidden zipper and an opening to put in a cabinet on the other side. This made stitching even more challenging.”
It’s the challenge of each job that makes XLprints a great place to work. “There is no monotony,” Ali says. “We have to go to the drawing board for each new project.”