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Wide-format Graphics: Canvas printing for sign shops

Photos courtesy LexJet

By Jeff Goetze
Canvas printing has established itself as a growing and profitable segment of the wide-format graphics market. According to InfoTrends, a printing industry research firm, the amount of canvas printed each year will have grown from roughly approximately 46 million m2 (500 million sf) in 2013 to nearly 80 million m2 (860 million sf) by 2018, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6 per cent.

That rate of growth represents many opportunities across a variety of market segments, from limited-edition fine-art reproductions to corporate decor for restaurants, hotels and hospitals, wherever an individual or organization is looking to ‘spice up’ a space with the unique look of canvas.

For sign and print shops, it is important to consider such factors as materials, printers, ink sets and coatings when determining the best way to produce canvas prints for the local market.

Materials and textures
The inkjet-printable canvas materials currently available vary by base material, weave, weight, finish and optical brightening agents (OBAs). Choosing the right canvas is a mostly subjective matter, since different customers like different appearances. Some may seek a highly textured surface, for example, while others prefer a smoother finish. The choice may also depend on the lighting where the canvas is to be displayed.

So, when discussing a canvas project with a client, it is important to understand his/her expectations, the project’s budget and where it will be displayed.

Colortec Graphics and Design printed a 6.4 x 4.5-m (21 x 14-ft) canvas application to frame the main dining area at the Colosseum Italian Restaurant in Naples, Fla.

Polyester
A polyester base material is typically used for higher-volume projects because it is less expensive and smoother than other options. It is often used for decorative signage, banners, wallcoverings and other decor applications.

Some clients like the smoother surface for photography reproductions where a texture could detract from the image, while other artists would prefer a more traditional canvas texture appearance. While choosing esthetics will mostly be based on what a given client likes, however, the economics of production may be what dictates the choice of polyester.

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Cotton
When most people envision an art canvas, they are thinking of the texture of 100 per cent cotton. That said, because cotton comprises 100 per cent natural fibres, there are more likely to be variations in the material’s whiteness, weave and texture from lot to lot, which can cause problems if a project requires consistency from print to print.

Some print shops find the variability of cotton is an advantage, however, as it provides a very original look for each of their products, allowing them to position themselves as custom, one-of-a-kind printers.

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