Wide-format Graphics: Unleashing the opportunity of trade show graphics

Blockout films
Similar to blockout papers but specifically designed for use in retractable banner stands, blockout films are another strong choice of signage substrate. An anti-curl layer will provide additional stability and durability for busy trade show floors, allowing the graphics to be used multiple times. And films with bright white printable surfaces will enhance the graphics’ colour ‘pop.’

There are a wide variety of blockout films available today. Those with a polypropylene (PP) printable surface and a metallized film layer in between are ideal. That said, PP blockout films without the metallized layer can prove effective for solvent and eco-solvent inkjet printing, providing cost savings—by not having to meet water-based coating conditions for aqueous printing—while achieving the same lay-flat properties.

Similarly, sign shops using UV-curing inkjet printers can find cost savings by sourcing specialized UV blockout films that do not need to be compatible with water-based printing.

Many manufacturers have also begun to offer blockout films for the growing latex printing market. Unlike films constructed with PP, these are 100 per cent polyester blockout films, which are not heat-sensitive. As a result, they will not buckle, curl or warp in latex printers.

Finally, some manufacturers have designed two-step constructions for the trade show display market, whereby a 0.4-mm (16.5-mil) blockout film is paired with a 0.13-mm (5-mil) laminate to create a 0.53-mm (21-mil) thick display.


Trade show displays also allow sign companies to promote their own services by example. Photo courtesy Signs By Tomorrow

Repositionable adhesive-backed films
Repositionable films with low-tack adhesion are already popular for residential graphics and retail displays, but are now also being used for trade shows and other event signage. They allow exhibitors to skip the mounting step for in-booth graphics and simply apply graphics directly to most surfaces.

Repositionable films constructed of PP are particularly ideal for short-term trade show use. The durable PP construction will be sufficient to support multiple uses and, unlike vinyl, will not shrink with heat or suffer any edge curling. Additionally, with PP, the substrate can be printed at full bleed and then recycled after end of use.

Once trade show graphics have been printed, it is in most cases essential to finish them through lamination to meet the demands of the trade show floor. Many manufacturers of paper- or film-based media also offer matched components for laminating their products.

Regardless of the printed substrate, signmakers should choose laminates that can protect trade show graphics against dirt and scuffing, so as to extend image integrity. Other beneficial attributes will include anti-glare properties and ease of use; PSA laminates, especially, will simplify the production process.

Keeping steady
The trade show graphics and displays market has become—and will continue to represent—a steady source of income for sign shops everywhere. By becoming aware of new and improved materials as they become available, signmakers can remain competitive, help exhibitors stand out from the crowd, enhance production
flexibility and deliver maximum cost-effectiveness.

Ed McCarron is vice-president of digital imaging for Coveris Advanced Coatings, formerly Exopack Advanced Coatings. This article is based on a seminar the company presented in October 2014 at the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. For more information, visit www.magicinkjet.com and www.sgia.org.

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