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Continuing to assist Q’eqchi’ Mayan villages with educational banners

  Posted June 5, 2018

School birds donating printers Aldea Cerro Azul Chisec

Village leaders of Aldea Cerro Azul, Municipio Chisec, Guatemala, and their families receive our donation of the first of two 5-meter long full-color printout of waterbirds of Guatemala. The school teachers can then cut each bird into a rectangular poster to put on the walls or windows of the school. All the renderings of each bird are by the illustrators of FLAAR Mesoamerica.

One of our goals is to assist local people to learn about the endangered species, especially birds, mammals and pollinators. So the graphic designers and illustrators of FLAAR Mesoamerica in Guatemala prepare educational drawings of all the species of interest.

We then take these drawings to printer expos and various companies that know FLAAR Reports do the printing for us. We then fly these horizontal banners back to Guatemala and drive several days to reach remote settlements.

This Q’eqchi’ Mayan aldea is best reached by 4WD double-cabin pickup truck. We visited with the village leaders. They asked assistance with respect improve methods for pumping water from a cave, since the village’s previous water source went dry in past months. Before we hiked several kilometers to reach the cave spring, we showed the village leaders and their families the kinds of material we were preparing for local schools. They eagerly expressed interest in having these banners for their schools, so we donated the two banners that we happened to have.

We will return to this area in the future and donate additional educational material. What would most help would be if a foundation, corporation, individual, or embassy program could print the books we have ready for primary schools ( These books are ready in Spanish, English, and Q’eqchi’ Mayan languages. The local teachers have told us they prefer if everything can be in those three languages.

FLAAR (USA) and FLAAR Mesoamerica (Guatemala) are also seeking funds to assist our project on pollinators (more than just bees, butterflies and bats). We would like to prepare banners showing all major pollinators in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.


Last set up day review at APPPEXPO 2017

  Posted March 07, 2017

flaar reports at APPPEXPO 2017 shanghai china

Hall 1: CO2 laser cutters, CNC routers: an entire hall (in other words, more than at any other expo in the world (probably 100X more than at DRUPA).

Hall 2: the Chinese Hall had more flatbed cutters; several booths FILLED with different sizes and shapes of laminators; and endless booths of wide-format and desktop-sized UV printers, solvent printers, and textile printers. Many brands are new: companies which did not exhibit in previous years.

Hall 3: the International Hall: AGFA, dilli, Durst, efi VUTEk, Epson, Mimaki, Roland , and Mutoh. Lots of Chinese brands of large-format printers: JHF, Gongzheng, Handtop, Teckwin, and lots of other brands. Several brands I have never noticed before: Yameike, Yotta and more.

Lots of flatbed cutters: iECHO, JWEI and more.

Ink companies: Jetbest, Sam Ink, Sun Chemical (SunJet DIC), and many more.

Many booths of printable materials: HEYtex, a.berger and dozens of Chinese brands.

Hall 4 has miles of booths of inks and printable substrates.

Hall 5 and Hall 6: signage, everything from LCD, LED to traditional signage.

North Hall (at north entrance). This is now a full hall. Last year was mostly textile printers but now has everything: as filled with printers as Hall 2 and 3.

What is new? This is the question we are asked the most often. Once the expo opens tomorrow, we will be visiting an ink booth which may have a remarkable new ink.


You may notice from this photo that FLAAR is growing

  Posted July 22, 2016

Since we provide all staff flexible working hours, it is rare for 100% of the FLAAR teams to be present at any one time. But today was the birthday celebration for three different employees, so at least 90% of the teams were here at one time.

You can see the Q’eqchi’ and Kakchiquel Mayan student interns and the multitude of university students who work at FLAAR.

We have several teams: digital imaging printing, and flora and fauna. The flora and fauna is in two joint teams: studying plants and animals and doing storyboards and illustrations for educational comic books on endangered species of Guatemala. Our web sites on plants, animals, and how to do high res photography are read by about 600,000+ people.

The digital imaging team does marketing and technology research on UV-curing printers, textile inks, textile printers and textile printing workflow, cutters, laminators, color management, RIP and other software and hardware. The FLAAR web sites on these topics are read by over half a million people around the world (different people than read the plants and animals web sites).

So altogether, our entire coverage of research is read by over a million people.

FLAAR printer evaluation team FLAAR MayanToons Maya plant animal comic book team 2311.jpg


New FLAAR Reports on 3D digital imaging of Mayan house architecture

  Posted January 7, 2016

Ten of us, in two 4WD double-cabin pickup trucks, did a field trip deep into the remotest parts of the jungle-covered mountains of Guatemala, Central America, to test methods to render Mayan thatch-roofed houses in 3-dimensional imaging. We used a drone and drone pilot, and university students who are studying digital imaging and biology.

This week, two of us are in Dubai to study wide-format inkjet printing and signage technology. We will be testing which inkjet printers and toner printers can best produce high-resolution photographs of these Mayan houses, plus which printers can best show high-resolution digital photographs of rare Neotropical flowers and jaguars.


ITMA 2015 textile extravaganza in Milano, Italia

  Posted October, 2015

ITMA is the largest and by far best textile expo in Europe. There is nothing comparable in North America. Two of us will fly to ITMA after SGIA.

If you can’t get to ITMA we will have lots of FLAAR Reports on textile printers and textile inks. If you order these reports in advance there is a 10% discount: e-mail FrontDesk “at”


SGIA printer, signage, and dye sublimation trade show

  Posted October, 2015

We attend three printer expos every year in USA: GOA (Graphics of the Americas) because it is in friendly South Miami Beach, because it is the first expo in North America of every year, and because every year we are asked to lecture both in English and in Spanish.

Next we attend ISA, since this is a traditional classic for printers and signage and graphics in USA (ironically we have never attended any trade show in Canada, but unsure if one has a lecture program that we would fit into perhaps).

We skip Graph Expo and “Print” because it is too small; has almost no media or substrate exhibitors, and is mostly what little remains of offset and flexo (so not enough signage and not enough wide-format inkjet). However Graph Expo is still good if you need to look at toner printers, office printing, mailing, binding, etc. and what is left of offset.

Every year without fail we attend SGIA. Whereas all other USA expos have either gone downhill (Graph Expo) or not expanded dramatically at all, in distinction SGIA has grown every year. Being in crime ridden and uninspiring Atlanta (with overpriced hotels) may cause some people to think twice, but we are nonetheless sending three people (we send four to ISA since hotels are more reasonable cost in Orlando and Las Vegas).

SGIA is especially good to attend for dye sublimation and textile printers. So we hope to see you there at SGIA 2016.


Dr. Nicholas gives two lectures in Antigua Guatemala

  Posted October 2015

80 Invitacion Hellmuth Mayan ethnozoology animals fauna lecture Oct 30 2015 29 water lily lecture Oct 23 2015 animal lecture Oct 30

In the 17th century Spanish colonial former capital of this part of Central America, Dr Hellmuth gave a lecture last Friday on water lily (Nymphaea alba) ethnobotany, iconography, and cosmology, based on his PhD dissertation of the 1980’s.

Now, the coming Friday (Oct 30th), Nicholas will lecture on jaguars, tapirs, crocodiles, herons, sea anemones, turtles, sharks, and stingrays: creatures associated with river, lake, and ocean scenes in Mayan murals, stone sculpture, or decorated funerary vases, plates, and bowls. These lectures are organized by Fundacion La Ruta Maya.

After this lecture Nicholas and two others from the wide-format inkjet printer, inks, and printable substrates division of FLAAR will fly to SGIA in USA and then two will continue to ITMA in Italy.


Sign Istanbul, a good place to learn about wide-format inkjet

  Updated September 24, 2015

There was so much to see at the recent Sign Istanbul that in addition to all four days of the expo, we were already taking notes the day before the expo opened (the last set-up day, when booths are still being constructed).

Lots of printers of all types: UV, eco-solvent, textile, latex, and water-based, plus SUV (solvent UV, one of my favorite inks).

We are now preparing our FLAAR Reports on everything that we learned, including on the co-located 3D PRINTSHOW which was in Hall 11.


APPPEXPO, the giant printer and signage expo, opened March 11th in Shanghai

  Posted February 2, 2015

Last year there were more UV-cured printer brands and models at APPPEXPO than at all printer expos in Europe and North America combined.

There were more brands of media and printable substrates than every other printer in the world put together.

Hmmm, maybe this is why six of us will flew to Shanghai to attend this four-day expo, March 11-14.

Plus there were solvent printers, water-based printers, cutters, laminators and coaters. And LED and LCD dynamic digital signage (more than every expo in USA and more than any and every signage and printer expo in all of Europe).

Print shop owners and distributors, if they miss this APPPEXPO 2015, then their competitors (who attend) get a head start. is where you can learn more.

All of us in the industry know this as APPPEXPO, but it is also called Shanghai Int'l Ad & Sign Expo, now co-located with the Shanghai Int'l Lighting Expo.


SGI (Sign Middle East) is first international signage expo for 2015

  Updated January 2, 2015. First posted December 19, 2014

Three of us from FLAAR Reports will flew to beautiful Dubai in early January to attend two co-located events: a best-signage awards event and signage conference (organized by and the 11, 12, 13 January SGI Dubai 2015 event (organized by IEC and shown on their

Dubai is friendly, peaceful, architecturally impressive, and worth visiting (especially if your partner likes to shop; Dubai has more and larger shopping malls than most other cities).

FLAAR has been attending this expo for many years and we look forward to 2015.

In addition to Dr Nicholas, two other evaluators-review editors from FLAAR will attend: Pablo Martinez (inks, media, substrates, cutters) and Maria Renee Ayau (textile inks, printers, RIP software, workflow equipment; T-shirt printers, inks, toner).

If you wish to meet Dr Nicholas plus the staff, consulting opportunities are available, but please reserve in advance by writing FrontDesk "at"


Lots more reviews of digital imaging equipment to come in 2015

  Posted January 2, 2015

Over a million people around the world know the FLAAR Reports on wide-format inkjet printers, inks, media & substrates, and printer/signage expos. But we also evaluate digital cameras, on our

At printer expos manufacturers and distributors showcase their wide-format printers, but half the time the photos they are printing are inadequate. We at FLAAR are available as photography consultants: Dr Nicholas' photos have been published by National Geographic and by Japanese coffee-table book publishers.

Plus there is an additional FLAAR team which studies Neotropical plants and animals of Guatemala and the rest of Mesoamerica. If you are interested in flowers or birds or jaguars, you will enjoy our and

We raise bees, wasps, butterflies, spiders, and tailless whip-scorpions inside or directly in front of our FLAAR headquarters building at 1500 meters above sea level in Central America.

Our ethnobotanical garden around our office and inside also is a research garden on utilitarian plants of the Maya civilization.


Printer & Signage expo in Shanghai will be so large we are sending six FLAAR staff

   Posted December 19, 2014 

If you wish to learn about wide-format inkjet printers, the trade show which is larger than all Europe + all USA expos put together is the March 2015 expo in Shanghai.

It is larger than FESPA + Serigrafia (in Brazil + all four VISCOM expos.

At least six of us from FLAAR Reports, will fly to beautiful Shanghai in mid-March 2015 for this remarkable exposition.

After-market inks, media, substrates, cutters, laminators, coaters, RIP software, printheads.

Plus traditional signage, plus dynamic digital signage (LED and LCD monitors).

Plus 3D printers (3D rapid prototypers, 3D additive manufacturing systems.

We go mainly for UV-cured printers, textile printers, T-shirt printers, inks and media. But you can also find laminators, coaters, CNC routers, CO2 laser engravers and XY flatbed (digital) cutters.

If you are a print shop owner, you can save enough money from after-market inks to pay the entire airplane ticket and hotel in Shanghai.

We hope to see you in Shanghai during this four day event. To get an attendee pass, sign up and register here:


FLAAR Reports expands into evaluating toner printers

   Posted Nov. 14, 2013 

Although FLAAR is best known for evaluations of inkjet printers (over a dozen different kinds of ink chemistries), everything from CAD and GIS to photo printers, and industrial printers up to 5 meter width.

But we also evaluate toner-based printers, indeed Xerox flew three of us from FLAAR Reports to their iGen factory and demo room already six or seven years ago.

We did test print samples in the Xerox booth at Sign Africa in Johannesburg in July and then attended Print '13 in Chicago.

Since it is too crowded to do print samples actually at the expo we introduced ourselves at the key short-run digital press and office copier company booths, and are now preparing to send samples.

But in the meantime, one distributor flew us to California to do sample printers with their toner-based printer.

Here is the FLAAR staff (mostly university trained graphic designers) studying and indicating which features of which printer were outstanding (and which needed improvement).

All the 11x17" images are from GO Duo (Graphics One, distributor for North America and Latin America of many products) compared with the slightly larger and more expensive Xerox machine.

In essence, the output of the low price GO Duo is equal in all respects (other than size) and beats the Xerox a tad on deep blacks.

We would like to repeat this comparison with Xerox's iGen and in the Xerox demo room, plus naturally Xeikon, Canon, and comparable.

But in the meantime, the Graphics One GO Duo did a professional job (graphic design students are quite picky, as you would also expect for a former research professor in digital imaging.

This web site is now available in 36 languages, thanks to the knowledge and experience of  Eliseo Emmanuel Hurtado Bran, one of  the staff at FLAAR. Our maya ethnozoology web site and our fine art giclee web site are also in multiple languages. By summer our printer web sites will be in languages all over the world.

The Foundation for Latin American Anthropological Research is better known as FLAAR. Our mission includes research, education and outreach of how digital imaging technologies can record our visual links to the past, present and future, especially related to pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica.

FLAAR is beta tester for digital imaging technology (hardware and software). The FLAAR Reports evaluate digital cameras, digital photography software, wide-format inkjet printers, inkjet inks, substrates and media, and the entire workflow including color management and ICC color profiles.

The photograph here is an example of our technological capability: it is a composite digital panoramic scan of the inside of a colonial Spanish church courtyard arcade of Santa Clara, Antigua Guatemala. How many photographs were used for this 120 degree panorama?

This image consists of 29,000 individual photographs (this is not a typo). FLAAR has been a beta-tester for BetterLight since the 1990's and still does innovative panoramic photography with this remarkable large-format digital camera system (just Google BetterLight IR pano Eduardo Sacayon FLAAR and you will see the wonders of fine art digital photography for recording cultural heritage. Click on each of the first five results to see everything.

Nicholas Hellmuth in Obeikan
Nicholas Hellmuth at Obeikan

FLAAR does evaluations around the world, especially in Latin America, Europe, USA, and Asia. Over one million people a year read FLAAR each year.

Our focus has always been on the pre-Columbian anthropology and archaeology of Mesoamerica, especially Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. But our experience and knowledge of digital technology should be used to assist people around the world in cultures beyond Latin America.

After a successful decade of becoming the de facto #1 leader in evaluating digital printing technologies, FLAAR has decided it is time to add coverage of 3D imaging technology. So FLAAR opened a 3D division last year and we are expanding it this year. One of our partners is IB-ProCADD in Ljubljana, Slovenia, with association with the local university there. Students from that university assist as volunteers with FLAAR in Guatemala. We also have volunteers from Ukraine and Russia working with us. This year an archaeology student from South America joined our 3D scanning project in Guatemala.

FLAAR intends to become a leader in evaluation, reviews, publication, lectures, and promotion of 3D scanning, 3D rapid prototypying (3D printers especially, but also selective laser sintering, stereo lithography, fused deposition and laminated object manufacturing: now known as additive manufacturing).

Nicholas Hellmuth 3D scanning archaeological artifact
Nicholas Hellmuth at Museo Cultura Cotzumalhuapa, 3D scanning a precolumbian head sculpture.

FLAAR is also interested in evaluating and writing more about 3D imaging software. Our first project was Geomagic software. We look forward to evaluating more software during 2010 and onward into the future. Our background also includes training and experience in architecture, so we are moving forward in the world of 3D modeling for architectural history (especially preColumbian architecture of the Mayan civilization). The Hellmuth family background is in architecture: Nicholas studied architecture at Harvard, one Hellmuth brother studied architecture at Yale, and the youngest Hellmuth brother studied architecture at Georgia Tech and then the prestigious European technical university, ETH in Zurich, Switzerland. All three were following their following their father, George Hellmuth, the founder of HOK Architects, which is currently the largest architectural company in the world. Architecture seems to be in the family, as their grandfather and great-uncle were founders of the firm of Hellmuth & Hellmuth (about a hundred years ago or so).

So evaluating and writing about 3D rapid prototyping creation of architectural models is a logical assignment for the Hellmuth brothers. Daniel Hellmuth, for example, works in sustainable architecture. Nicholas Hellmuth (founder and president of FLAAR Reports), still works with ancient pyramid-temple, palace, and sacred rubber-ballgame ballcourt architecture of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Belize. So as soon as we arrange access to 3D printers and other 3D modeling technologies, architects around the world can have reliable evaluations of this exciting technology.

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As of December 2014, Dr Nicholas and FLAAR had 1,308 contacts in LinkedIn (and over half a million readers worldwide on the FLAAR network). Wide Format Inkjet printers, inks, trade shows, consulting. Covers digital imaging, wide-format inkjet, inks, printable materials, digital photography, printer and/or signage trade shows around the world. Maya archaeology, iconography, ethnobotany, ethnozoology, caves (Xibalba), ethnohistory (especially Popol Vuh). Mayan studies
tweets (Iconography, Architectural History, Sports & Games, Ethnohistory, Ethnobotany, Ethnozoology, Geology of Guatemala)

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