V-MODA Uses Roland DG Color UV Printing Technology to Customize its Top-of-the-Line Headphones
V-MODA | Los Angeles, California
Custom color UV printing is available for the shields on all models of V-MODA’s award-winning over-ear headphones. On the V-MODA customization page, fans can choose from an array of fresh designs created in the V-MODA Milano Design Studio, or use an online template to submit their own images or artwork. The UV color print option is available for consumers and for companies that are looking for new ways to share their brand.
We spoke with Erik Massie, Tech and Artistic Manager at V-MODA, and Luca Bolognesi, V-MODA’s Vice President of Marketing Tech, about their decision to incorporate UV color print customization, and how this new option is being received by consumers..
What led V-MODA to add UV color print to its suite of customization options?
Erik Massie: In the years since we began offering shield customization, we’ve had an increasing number of requests for color designs. With laser etching, you are limited to designs in white or grey scale. We wanted to be able to give our customers the color they were asking for.
Luca Bolognesi: V-MODA’s partnership with Roland Music started in 2016, and we became part of the Roland family in 2019. Things really started coming into focus when we began discussing our vision for color customization with Roland DGA. We realized they had the exact printing capability we’d been missing, including the ability to print in full color along with primer and gloss ink.
We received the VersaUV LEF-300 flatbed UV printer from Roland DGA in late 2018, and we began offering color customization on our website in early 2019. In 2021, We purchased a second LEF-300, so now we have two at our disposal.
“We wanted to be able to give our customers the color they were asking for.”Which V-MODA products are you currently customizing using the Roland DG LEF printer?
Erik: We offer shield customization right now for a total of nine over-ear headphone products, including our M200 and M200 ANC wireless headphones. We can customize the shields with purchase of new headphones, or existing customers with V-MODA over-ear headphones can order customized replacement shields.
How easy was it for you to learn to use the LEF?
Erik: Roland DGA’s representative showed me the mechanics of how the device worked in a half-day training. I enjoyed learning about all the capabilities of the LEF. It actually took me longer to learn how to work with vector images than it did to learn to use the printer, but now it’s all become familiar. I’ve trained a few co-workers and even made a training video of myself walking through the steps.
When we first got the LEF my imagination started running wild. It’s fun to play with the different kinds of ink and the textures you can create. For example, I printed a graphic of a head and used gloss ink to highlight portions of the face. I’ve also done test prints on other objects, like speakers, just to see how my designs look on them. You can print on an amazing range of objects and surfaces.
What’s your workflow like?
Erik: The shields come in a variety of matte or glossy colors painted on anodized aluminum. To customize them with UV print, we first print a primer layer, then white ink, then print the CMYK design. With some of the designs, we print a gloss layer on top.
Larger production runs are easy to set up. We use a template that lets us print up to 58 shields at a time. For the V-MODA x Jimi Hendrix collection, we printed more than 1,200 shields. I print lots of mockups and samples, and we handle corporate requests for sponsorship shields or special production runs along with requests from artists and DJs. Individual orders come in through our website as well as through Amazon or Guitar Center.
Now that we have two LEFs, we typically handle the larger production runs on one machine and keep the other machine open for website orders. Most weeks I’m able to offer one- to two-day turnaround times for website orders.
Roughly, what percentage of your customers are opting for color customization?
Erik: Out of our customizable orders, a little over 40 percent request customization. Of those, about half will order color print. The color orders jumped up pretty quickly after we announced the capability. Laser etching takes the bulk of the rest, and a few orders come in for 3D print as well.
About half of the color print orders that come in are for a custom .jpeg or vector file. Of our pre-made designs, the most popular are the sound wave in blue gradient on matte blue or midnight blue shields, and the tropical design in orange gradient on black or ocean blue shields. People love the multi-colored designs.
We’ve been really pleased with the range of colors we can print, and the vibrance of the UV ink shows up well on the shields. We’ve also been able to match logo colors for our corporate clients.
We pride ourselves on our customer service and we are committed to working with customers if the design they submit doesn’t fit on the shields well. We’ll help them redesign it to something that works better, or they can send in a different design.
Tell us about how you use color printing in your collaborations.
Luca: We are excited to share the good news that brands don’t have to simply use a white logo on a black shield anymore. Our first collaboration was with the Jimi Hendrix Foundation, and its representatives were very clear that they wanted to really showcase the psychedelic colors that are present in the original designs. They provided licensed images for us to use in producing the V-MODA x Jimi Hendrix collaboration. The collection is visually stunning and has been really successful.
What lies ahead for V-MODA’s color customization?
Erik: Having the LEF printers on site has opened up a lot more possibilities. I like being creative and now I can add to my designs with textures like gloss and embossing. For me, it’s like being in a playground. The LEF is a total win-win – I can be more creative and so can our customers.
Luca: We believe we are just beginning to scratch the surface of the applications for this technology. In the past, people who knew we could customize our products would ask us about it. Now, the V-MODA x Jimi Hendrix collaboration has brought wider attention to this capability, and people are coming to us with ideas for branding, collaborations and limited edition runs. We’re looking forward to sharing more exciting announcements soon.