Color sample cards for films are extremely important for sales in the advertising technology industry. And yet they are gradually disappearing because film manufacturers find production too costly. This is where NEPATA can step in: with a unique production process to manufacture color strips at low unit costs. And with an all-round carefree service right up to the finished sample card.
By NEPATA CEO Fabian Franke, November 2022
Did you know that at NEPATA we not only build machines for rewinding, cutting to length and slitting? As a service provider, we also produce individual color sample cards and color strips – automated and cost-effective. In this article, I explain why it can be worthwhile for you as a film manufacturer or wholesaler to place the production of color strips or color cards in our hands.
Color cards for films – they are essential for film trade and advertising technology
Color sample cards are extremely important in sales for film manufacturers and dealers in the advertising technology industry: This is the only way customers can make an accurate choice from the huge range of decorative films, car wrapping films, flock films, flex films, etc. An advertising technician is to cover the new delivery van of a craftsman. Now he has to decide: Which Oracal shade best matches the company logo? Or would a vinyl film from Aslan, Mactac or Arlon fit better? A senior class would like to order shirts with neon green lettering. The creative team is now in the showroom of the textile finisher. What looks better? The flock film or the flex film? From film manufacturer Hexis or from Politape?
Ultimately, the end customer in particular will only order what he can see and touch – because he doesn’t know anything else. However, it is impossible for the advertising technician to have all the materials in stock. It is even more difficult for online stores: the color display on monitors is anything but meaningful. How to choose the self-adhesive film for the kitchen improvement project?
This makes color charts all the more important. And they should actually be available in large quantities so that they can be distributed to as many customers as possible. Because it is certain:
Color cards increase the chance that customers will access the exact film they see for their professional or DIY project. They are the central tool in film distribution.
However, the production of sample cards is complex, time consuming and expensive for the manufacturer. Especially in Europe, the situation is like this: You have dealers in Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland or Spain and everyone needs 300 color cards a year in their language version. Above all, however, it is the creation of the small sample strips that leads to trouble and high costs. This results in the dilemma of not being able to provide all customers with color cards due to the high costs. For example, many manufacturers are very restrictive in terms of the number of sample cards they make available – to the disappointment of dealers and customers. And also, for marketing campaigns, e.g. widely distributed mailings or inserts in trade journals, costs and lead times are often simply too high.
High quality, high speed – through industrial production
This is where we come in: NEPATA has developed a unique production process to make color strips for self-adhesive media. With our industrial production, we can quickly and precisely cut color strips in large quantities. At the same time, the automation ensures a lot of flexibility – and above all low unit costs. We developed this production process and the machines required for it 10 years ago. It is therefore a proven system. By the way, the production and thus the value creation takes place directly at our German headquarters .
To make it clear at this point: We are not talking about color fans here, but exclusively about color cards, in which sample strips are glued into folding cards.
So how does the production of these color strips work? Let’s take the specific example of one of our customers. Every two years, he has us create 5,000 color cards for his vinyl films. For this purpose, we receive the material in the length of 50 meters, which is typical for PVC films. We cut out narrow rolls, each one is exactly 2 cm wide. Of course, a width a 3 cm would also be possible, for example.
In the next step, our special machine – fully automated – pulls the silicone paper off the tapes and the vinyl film is glued to the transparent PE film with its own adhesive. This happens simultaneously for all colors that are applied to a sample strip.
Finally, the automatic cross-cutting into the correct strip format takes place.
Lower unit costs with expanded production
Because our process is highly automated, production naturally becomes more profitable with larger quantities. I would say that from 500 strips of one type you can start thinking about it. Since we are not a manufacturer, it becomes really interesting when there are several 1,000 pieces.
This is all the more true when the source material is also taken into consideration. For the 5,000 sample cards from our example, we need four of these 50 meter long and 2 cm wide bands of each color. This means that the main roll is missing 8 cm in width. Since this roll can no longer be sold by the manufacturer anyway, the material can be used for even larger quantities of color sample strips or color cards.
When we get entire rolls from film manufacturers, we have enough material for tens of thousands of sample strips. In this way, all dealers worldwide could be supplied with color cards with material that they have already invested in anyway.
Now, you could also choose not to take the strips from an original 50-meter roll, but to rewind short rolls and use more than just four strips. Now, you could also choose not to take the strips from an original 50-meter roll, but to rewind short rolls and use more than just four strips. You can say: The longer the better, i.e. the typical 50 meter rolls for PVC films or 25 meters for textile transfer films are simply more effective than if we process shorter run lengths.
Speaking of textile films: As described above, our process works for all self-adhesive films. In the case of non-self-adhesive media such as flex film or flock film, the customer first equips his films with self-adhesive. As part of our full service – more on this below – we can also take care of that, i.e. peeling off the top layer and applying a self-adhesive finish.
All-round service up to the finished color sample card
As a flexible service provider, we can either only take over the particularly economical production of the color strips. Or film manufacturers use our all-round carefree service and outsource the entire handling to us. We then take care of all the steps: printing the cards, cutting the color strips, in the case of flex and flock films also the self-adhesive finish and finally the complete packaging, i.e. gluing the color strips into the cards and packaging. This means that our customers do not have to organize these many steps internally or coordinate several service providers, possibly in different countries. In short, the manufacturer or distributor basically just has to take his films off the shelf and send them to us – we take care of everything else.
Interface between film manufacturer and film trade
And it goes one step further: we can also act as an interface between manufacturers and dealers. For example, the manufacturer has us create 5,000 sets of strips – some of which remains with us. If a dealer needs new color cards, he calls us, the 300 cards are printed in his language and with his logo, and then the strips are made.
The solution for film manufacturers: Completely outsource the tiresome topic of color cards – and do something good for dealers.
The service is even more ideal when a manufacturer decides to provide us with the raw material, i.e. a roll of each type of film or color. Then we can produce the stripes for the respective retailer according to their wishes: a certain selection of colors, with an individual sequence, etc. Our process is so flexible that it is also possible to change the printed materials as well as the color samples within a batch.
Another model I can think of involves wholesalers who have films from different manufacturers in their portfolio. You can make your own color cards (in your own layout) – and let us produce color strips with the assortment that is relevant for you. Of course, this is far more attractive than having one stamp field on a manufacturer’s card in the best-case scenario and then having to send the customers two, three or four cards from different manufacturers and ranges.
But I understand when film dealers tell me that it is too time-consuming for them to cut pieces from 120 different films to produce the strips, just for a few hundred cards. On the one hand, because it is a lot of work, and on the other hand, because the dimensions of the remaining rolls then no longer meet the customer’s needs. Hence my appeal once again to the self-adhesive film manufacturers to consider outsourcing the production of color cards. Larger quantities are simply more profitable. Now, you could also choose not to take the strips from an original 50-meter roll, but to rewind short rolls and use more than just four strips.
Conclusion: Color sample cards – and it even works
Thanks to our highly automated and therefore cost-effective production process, we enable film manufacturers to pass on color cards to distributors, dealers and customers on a large scale, to enclose them in trade magazines or to distribute them to potential customers in large mailing campaigns. Other advantages of industrial production are the great precision of the sample strips and an extremely short delivery time. And the optional full service, including handling of the print templates, gluing in the strips and customization for dealers relieves your own capacities even more. Because, hopefully you’ll need them elsewhere when your films are in demand thanks to color cards.
You can see which materials are possible and their individual advantages here: