By Dennis Leblanc
Any sort of print or graphics application will present certain challenges. The type of surface may cause issues when trying to apply the graphic, or the position of the application may make the whole installation process particularly troublesome.
While these are examples of the more common problems with applying external graphics, one core issue many companies also face is cold weather. In countries such as Canada that experience extremely harsh winters, ensuring an application not only remains in place but also retains its initial quality and continues to have the same impact is a tremendous challenge.
First, you need to ensure you are working with materials which will stand the test of time in often freezing temperatures. The last thing you want is for the graphic to fail, partially or fully, as this will result in having to reprint part or all of the image and reapply it. This will cost you valuable time, money, and resources, and more importantly, potential repeat business from the customer.
Next, there is the issue of colour and print quality. Similar to how prolonged sun exposure can have a detrimental impact on print, harsh, cold temperatures can also impact both the look and quality of exterior applications. Print service providers working in this market should be looking to work with materials, consumables, and hardware that ensure high-quality performance in these conditions.
Finally, when it comes to the removal phase of graphics, you need to make sure the materials you are working with are not in danger of freezing in place and leaving residue behind after they have been taken away. This could cause annoyance with the customer and potentially leave them with an unwanted cleaning bill to remove this residue—resulting in an all-around loss.
Making your choice
Traditionally, pressure-sensitive print media has a minimum application temperature of 5 C (41 F), which means it only allows for graphic installation in cooler climates for half of the year. As such, when choosing a print media, it is important to select one with an application temperature that matches your climate. Ultimately, selecting the perfect combination of film, laminate (if necessary), and adhesive is crucial to the success of a cold weather application project.
Materials in action
In September 2022, Toronto-based large-format print company Creative Silhouettes used Drytac’s Polar Grip white polymeric self-adhesive vinyl to create an eye-catching application at a busy intersection in the city.
The city of Toronto and real estate company Brookfield Properties approached the company to produce a piece of print which would brighten up a large outdoor space. The primary aim of the project was to introduce a splash of colour to the otherwise dull, beige colour of the building space, as opposed to promoting a certain brand or product.
Creative Silhouettes selected the material for the project with the knowledge it would perform in the extreme cold temperatures Toronto often experiences. Its high-bond adhesive means users can permanently apply graphics to any surface, such as metal, plastic, wood, glass, and brick.
This particular material can be printed using eco-solvent, ultraviolet (UV), or latex printers. The company opted to use its HP Latex R1000 printer to produce the final print, which measured 18.2 m (60 ft) high and 10.6 m (35 ft) wide. It now colourfully towers over passersby in Toronto and will continue to do so over the harsh winter months.
“We have been using this material for the past three years in a wide range of applications,” said Giovani Pereira, project and business development manager at Creative Silhouettes. “The customers were incredibly happy with the look of the final project, as are we as a team.”