Visitors to Dell’s impressive online Design Studio can select customized artwork which is applied using the innovative Pictaflex technology supplied by AkzoNobel’s Specialty Plastics business.
More traditional methods of personalization involve using stickers, transfers or supplying pre-designed computers which are manufactured in huge batches. But Dell and AkzoNobel can offer an on-demand service which allows laptops to be customized to order – with stunning results.
“Other technologies are used within the industry, but none of them allow for the ondemand production of one-off items, or lot size one as it’s known,” explains Alex Maaghul, head of AkzoNobel’s Specialty Plastics business. “That’s one of the distinct advantages of the Pictaflex technology which gives us a real competitive edge.”
The Pictaflex digital imaging transfer technology uses a process known as diffusion. Application is carried out at Dell’s own facilities or supplier factories using materials and equipment supplied by AkzoNobel. The whole process only takes a matter of minutes, with the added bonus of no topcoat being required.
“The finish and quality we are achieving is amazing,” adds Ed Boyd, Vice-President of Design at Dell’s Consumer Products business. “We’ve added a high degree of personalization into each of our platforms so that you can truly customize the products to suit your liking. Whether that is color, software or content, all aspects of the product are being considered. The strong collaboration we have with AkzoNobel has enabled us to make great strides and build the on-demand customization that we now offer.”
The first customized laptop Dell produced using the AkzoNobel technology was an ultracool World of Warcraft special edition. But now any laptop in any of Dell’s consumer groups can be personalized via their Design Studio, which offered more than 100 unique pieces of spectacular art in its first incarnation. The second generation version offers considerably more, with renowned artists from all over the world having created exclusive work for the dizzying gallery of designs.
“Artists are discovering that this is a great way to get global exposure, because obviously we sell products all over the world,” Boyd continues. “So they are regularly approaching us and the level of creativity we’re seeing is overwhelming. We’re realizing that the possibilities are infinite, particularly when we unleash the talent that we are now working with.”
Pictaflex is not just restricted to use on laptops, however. It can be used to decorate and customize items as large as desktop computers, while AkzoNobel is already supplying the technology to Logitech for use on their mouse range. “There’s a very big potential market for us,” says Maaghul. “Demand for customization is growing at a tremendous rate and there are many areas for us to explore.”