Prototypes & Comps

The Roland LEC-300 Excels at Prototypes and Short Runs for Lava Partners

Posted: January 17, 2011

Even in the current economy, Dean Passaglia creative director at Lava Partners in Irvine, CA, sees opportunities. “There is always a need for packaging,” says Passaglia. “Our goal is to provide our clients with innovative packaging products that are developed within their budget.”
Lava Partners is an integrated marketing, design, printing, and packaging solutions company that offers a broad range of services to clients throughout the retail and club store spectrum. With design services, an in-house photography studio and pre-press production facilities, Lava Partners provides start-to-finish capabilities for its clients.
To help Lava Partners efficiently manufacture realistic prototypes and short production runs, they recently purchased a Roland VersaUV LEC-300 30-inch printer/cutter. “I had owned a Roland before and knew the quality Roland offers,” Passaglia explains. “We bought the LEC-300 with very high hopes and, so far, we haven’t found anything it can’t do for us.”
Lava Partners works closely with customers to develop packaging designs and has found that a realistic prototype is a key element in successful client presentations. Passaglia says that presenting a full-color mockup is so much better than asking clients to imagine designs on a white box. Lava Partners designs packaging to impress and inspire its clients, and presenting a realistic prototype gives the company a competitive edge.
The VersaUV provides Lava Partners with a cost-effective way to generate its prototypes. “Over the years, we’ve hand cut samples and used our large format printers for lithography and lamination,” Passaglia continues. “The VersaUV lets us do all this on one machine—plus we can show spot UV treatments.”
Passaglia also values the variety of finishes and textures they can generate on the LEC-300, because Lava Partners uses high gloss finish frequently. With the white and clear coating together with CMYK, there are many options for color, coatings, and texture. Lava Partners often creates an embossed look or simulates other textures to make their package graphics even more appealing. When they are satisfied with the look of the printed exterior, they use the LEC-300’s print/cut feature to score and die cut the material, and then they assemble the prototype.
In today’s highly competitive market, Lava Partners also values the LEC-300’s ability to handle a wide variety of substrates. “The range of materials we can use, from 18-point chip to labeling media, gives us a lot of flexibility in designing our packaging,” says Passaglia. “The machine prints and cuts just about anything.”
The packaging prototypes Lava Partners can create on the VersaUV are often hard to distinguish from the finished products. Passaglia recounts that after several years of working with one of their overseas clients, Lava Partners proposed that the client consider refreshing their product packaging. Passaglia had emailed various design concepts back and forth, and eventually sent off a prototype of the chosen design. “Very soon we had a concerned email back asking why we had gone ahead with production!” recalls Passaglia. “Our clients were amazed to learn that the prototype we sent was not a full production version. It was that realistic.”
Lava Partners also uses the VersaUV for short run and specialty orders. Recently, one of their vendor partners asked Passaglia to design cover up labels for an in-store POP display. They were able to cover the design completely using black out material run on the LEC-300 and contour cut to form labels. This process saved time and money, since there was no die-cut setup involved. “It was the perfect solution,” says Passaglia. “In addition to cost savings, we win on customer service. We can do the short runs our clients need, and run them on whatever materials they need them run on. The LEC-300 helps us provide a ‘Wow’ that gets customers excited about our designs.”