Powerhouse Museum

Ricoh’s instant t-shirt printing a hit at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum

Established 140 years ago, Sydney’s iconic Powerhouse Museum draws thousands of visitors, tourists and students through its halls every year.

Part of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), the Powerhouse Museum’s working exhibitions demonstrate how technology, engineering, science and design impact Australia and the world.

The Powerhouse Museum is a state- funded agency with about 300 staff and an enthusiastic collection of volunteers. MAAS operates three sites: The Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo; Sydney Observatory at The Rocks; and the Museums Discovery Centre at Castle Hill.

The opportunity

With many visitors from schools and learning programs, the museum is always looking for innovative solutions to better manage its exhibitions and keep people engaged with memorabilia.

Owen Conlan, Media Technologies Manager, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, says the museum is always humming with activity, and individuals are working on a variety of projects at the same time.

Conlan, who looks after technology in the organisation, is always looking at innovative and interesting technology opportunities and how that can be implemented at the museum.

Conlan came across the Ricoh Ri 100 in a weekly newsletter from Kayell Australia, and was interested in discovering how a compact garment printing device could be used at the Powerhouse Museum.

Conlan provisioned something similar previously, where the museum purchased a photo booth with a green screen allowing visitors to get a picture taken, which can be emailed or printed off.

“School holiday programs wanted to take pictures and every holiday period I got asked about on-demand printing so it will be very useful during the holidays,” he says. “Another application the team saw an opportunity with, was the large number of workshops held at the Powerhouse Museum in which clients design or create a drawing that is transferred onto a t-shirt, a value add.

The solution

The Powerhouse Museum invested in the new Ricoh Ri 100 Direct to Garment printer which would allow them to do small volume t-shirt print runs on demand.

“We did a trial with the printer for a few weeks and got stakeholders involved to see the end result and feedback was received on how they could use it. With varying usages across different teams the cost was spread across the business,” said Conlan.

“As a technology manager I look at a range of applications and technologies to evaluate how it would be beneficial to our visitors, in this case we can now print t-shirts in-house. We always have the option of getting t-shirts printed externally, but that would need to be a larger run.”

The Ri 100 can scale up to business requirements, a single t-shirt can be printed or 5 depending on the demand.