The Print Tank makes texture easy

3D printing might be all the rage, but this Tauranga-based have proved you can achieve big things in print with a ‘3D effect’.

When Janah Kingi and her business partner Rowan O’Brien came across UV inkjet digital technology they knew they had a business venture on their hands.

The printer can print on a wide range of materials and print textures. A design that looks like bricks, can feel like them too.

Kingi and O’Brien spent a year researching. They looked into what they could achieve with the printer, how different primers, inks and solvents worked and what surfaces they could work with.

The printer was proving successful across the ditch, and Kingi and O’Brien were interested to see if it would work in New Zealand.

O’Brien owns Laminates Tauranga and has a wealth of manufacturing knowledge, and Kingi has a background in architecture and design.

Last year they invested in the first 3D effect printer on New Zealand shores and The Print Tank was launched in July 2015.

Now Kingi, the creative director, is focusing on her key market: the creative and design industry.

Kingi says textured printing is perfect in design because it is cost effective.

“Our space in the market is the creative industry because it’s an affordable process and it’s virtually limitless. We are only limited by our own creativity.”

The Print Tank can print on anything that can fit in the flat bed. It mainly works with glass, acrylic, metals, MDF and plywood.

It now serves clients throughout the North Island and is looking to expand down south.

“It’s a relatively new technology but it’s gaining momentum at the moment.”

For Kingi it’s hard to choose a favourite material to print on, because the limitless material possibilities make the process exciting.

The business doesn't just work in interior design, it also replicates artists’ pictures and enhances photographs by adding texture.

“Nobody else doing textured printing in New Zealand,” Kingi says.

“It’s quite touchy-feely, we can print an elephant and the it will feel rough and leathery like the skin.”

The Print Tank is currently a team of four staff, but Kingi is keen to expand the business.

The graphic design team create the files for printing and the print team focus on making them happen.

In the future, Kingi will look into seeing how 3D effect printing can work in other industries, but at the moment she’s happy working in the world she knows best.

“We love everyday, it’s brilliant. We’re having a lot of fun working with our clients and creating something unique.”