By Melissa Donovan
Some of the top specialty films and vinyl include whiteboard or dry erase and chalkboard-based media. Multiple vendors in the wide format space announced additions to their portfolios in the last six months. These new products stem from demand for user-friendly graphics that can be easily installed in specific environments such as retail, office, eateries, and education.
Not only writeable with a whiteboard marker or chalk, many of these materials are digitally printable. Print service providers (PSPs) can market these substrates as add-ons to an existing project, enhancing the look and feel of a customer’s intended vision. Both whiteboard/dry erase and chalkboard media are considered premium products.
Here are some of the products with chalkboard and whiteboard/dry erase attributes. Many are compatible with ink sets, some are not. We’ve noted this when applicable.
ASLAN, Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG offers PremiumBlackboard ASLAN BB 910 and Blackboard AntiScratch ASLAN CR 62. Introduced in 2011 and 2013, respectively, both products are not applicable with ink sets. They are available in rolls sizes of 25×1.25 meters.
Drytac Corporation introduced ChalkMate in 2014. Compatible with UV ink, it is available in 30- and 60-inch rolls. It sells for $0.48 per square foot.
FDC Graphic Films distributes the FDC 4308 Series, which includes two chalkboard-based products, ASLAN Memo Board Films – Liquid Chalk and ASLAN Memo Board Films – Chalk Board. Both products debuted in 2011. Neither are ink compatible, but are offered in roll widths of 24 and 48 inches.
FLEXcon announced its WALLdeco Chalkboard 6787BK in 2013. It is printable via UV and solvent screen, UV inkjet, UV offset, and UV and solvent flexographic. The product is available in a roll size of 60 inches.
Griff Paper and Film premiered a chalkboard offering in 2014. It can be screenprinted, use digital eco-solvent or latex, or be hot stamped. It is available in 24-inch widths.
MACtac Distributor Products launched MACtac wallCHALKER in 2013. It is compatible with UV-cured, latex, and flexographic print processes. It is available in roll sizes of 24 and 48 inches by 164 feet. The average cost of the product to a print shop is between $0.55 to $0.60 square feet.
RTape Corp. offers ChalkTalk, a printable, removable, non-vinyl chalkboard. The 6-mil substrate is printable with UV and latex. It is coated on one side with semi-permanent, removable emulsion acrylic adhesive.
Visual Magnetics LP launched its chalkboard product in 2012. VM-CHALKboard is applicable to analog, latex, UV, and solvent printing and available in 60-inch rolls. At SGIA in 2014, it debuted its VM-CHALKboardPLUS for UV printers, also in rolls up to 60 inches in width. Both products are listed at a price range between $2.50 to $3.35 per square foot MSRP.
3M DI-NOC Whiteboard Architectural Finishes and 3M Fasara Whiteboard Glass Finishes launched in 2012. Both products feature a writeable surface layer, but are unsuitable for printing. They are available in roll width sizes of 49.2 inches by 98.4 feet.
ASLAN promotes several whiteboard/dry erase products in its portfolio. All introduced in the last three years, Whiteboard Dryapply ASLAN WBL 995, WhiteboardMatt ASLAN WB 975, Clearboard ASLAN CB 90, and ClearboardMatt ASLAN CB 75, are not printable. They are available in a range of roll widths, commonly 25 and 50 meters.
Drytac offers its WipeOut clear gloss hardcoat overlaminate, which was introduced in 2014. Available in 51-inch by 150-foot rolls, it retails for $0.72 per square foot.
FDC’s 4308 Series includes ASLAN Memo Board Films – Whiteboard, Clearboard. This product was introduced in 2011 and while it not ink compatible, it is considered a laminate. Available roll widths include 27 and 54 inches. The FDC 4305 Series includes the company’s own Promotional Dry Erase Vinyl Film. Debuted in 1995, it is not compatible with ink. It is available in roll widths from 15 to 60 inches.
FLEXcon’s MARKwrite has been in circulation since 1989. Available in 54 and 60 inches, it is considered a laminate or overlaminate film and is not printable.
General Formulations’ Concept 111 is a dry erase clear overlaminate film, hence not printable. It is available in master roll widths of 38 and 54 inches. Typical substrates include paper, cardboard, photos, and unprinted graphics.
Griff Paper and Film announced a whiteboard/dry erase product in 2014. Similar to its chalkboard film it can be screenprinted, use digital eco-solvent or latex, or be hot stamped. It is available in 24-inch widths.
Ritrama Inc. released Ultra Dry Erase in 2013. It is a 1-mil optically clear, gloss polyester overlaminate that makes any graphic dry erase. It is available in rolls of 54 inches by 150 feet and costs $0.34 per square foot.
Visual Magnets offers its VM-DRYerase, which premiered in 2012. It is compatible with UV printing in rolls up to 60 inches in width. It can be purchased for $2.50 to $3.35 per square foot MSRP. The material does not ghost, according to the company.
Imagine the applications you might find a traditional whiteboard/dry erase or chalkboard. Specialty films with these same features can be found there and a dozen other places. Ease of installation presents end users with opportunities beyond the size and weight of a standard board.
Chalkboards are found in restaurants, bars, or grocery stores—environments where the menu may frequently change. “New is the trend for liquid chalk that makes sure hands stay clean and the writing is much more even and looks nice. For liquid chalk pens, a special blackboard film is needed to ensure easy cleaning,” shares Karin Biel, marketing manager, ASLAN.
Chalkboards are also found in classrooms, offices, and even in retail. “Whether printed, written on with chalk, or die cut into shapes, self-adhesive chalkboard films are versatile and work almost wherever a chalkboard could be used,” explain Sam Covello, product manager, product branding business team, and Dennis Brunnett, product manager, advertising, product branding business team, FLEXcon.
“Chalkboard films are normally composed of materials that provide great indoor durability, but the abrasive nature of writing on them with chalk can lead to marking on the surface,” cautions Matt Buckley, marketing and technical manager, FDC.
It is because of the possibility for marking that leads to a limited application time. A chalkboard-based media’s average lifespan will be about a year, says Nate Goodman, product manager, Drytac.
Dry erase or whiteboard media varies in its composition. Where it is used and for how long is dependent on the material. “Dry erase media with a polyester face can be durable and resist ghosting and scratching for a long time when used indoors. Products with a polypropylene face are less durable and should be considered for shorter term use,” advises Buckley.
Popular environments for whiteboards/dry erase are hospitals, offices, and schools—anywhere that welcome collaboration. “Dry erase is often incorporated into whole wall writable designs that include branded elements, wallcoverings, and layers to make the space more dynamic,” adds Tori Deetz, creative director, Visual Magnetics.
“Dry erase films work in offices to create on-demand walls while in schools and hospitals the film can quickly be applied over worn out boards for a lot less money than a new board. It also saves a board from going into the landfill,” shares Robert Rundle, viscom market manager, Ritrama.
“Our whiteboard products are used for office collaboration and ideation purposes; we see demand in education settings—particularly in colleges and universities—as the products provide students opportunities to share ideas and collaborate,” explains Holly Coleman, market development manager, 3M Architectural Markets.
Regarding lifespan, Goodman says most dry erase products begin to ghost with continuous use and cleaning so higher end products typically last longer, roughly two to three years.
“The most important factor in the life of whiteboard/dry erase is using the correct dry erase markers on the product. The life of these products is also dependent on how they are maintained and cleaned. Certainly abrasive cleaners can affect and deteriorate the surface of the dry erase material,” caution Covello and Brunnett.
Customization and personalization are popular. This trend is seen in many of the environments that utilize whiteboard/dry erase and chalkboard products.
“There is a continuing trend toward environmental personalization. Our graphics industry is innovating new products that are inspiring individuals, corporations, retailers, and others to think beyond the traditional can of paint when designing their surroundings. Customization, functionality, and removability fit virtually anywhere,” explains Amy Swaile, associate marketing manager, MACtac.
“There is a market for these products,” agrees Alex Phinn, president, Griff Paper and Film. “The demand is from shops, schools, and offices. They look for a chalkboard or dry erase boards that are lower in cost, temporary, less bulky, with more applications, and larger range of use.”
In office spaces, where personalized wallcoverings reflecting a company’s brand or message are becoming the norm, these same designers incorporate a form of signage that results in workable, usable space.
“The market is growing. Before businesses were only able to use what was fixed to the wall; now the whole wall can be a dry erase board with better aesthetics for video projection as well. Ritrama sees dry erase boards expanding from small permanent fixed structures to on-demand meeting rooms using pressure-sensitive film with dry erase capabilities for ad hoc and long-term strategy meetings where ideas need to be shared and seen,” says Rundle.
Retail and food vendors also want ease of use and customization. “In retail, there is increased demand for solutions like chalkboard that are printable while also being writable. Printed, traceable guidelines and lightweight material that rolls on and off also means that installation and customization are easy for associates at store level, especially when compared to traditional chalkboard offerings,” adds Deetz.
“I truly believe demand is coming from the retail and food industries, which desire a cost effective, customizable, and trendy solution that can be easily updated to better inform customers of promotions, new products, or recent changes. Examples would include pricing, items on sale, or menus,” suggests Goodman.
Environments where you would traditionally find whiteboards or chalkboards, such as schools, are also pushing for these products. “Driving demand is the increasing desire for collaborative spaces—whether you’re in a school or office. The trend for open concept floor plans continues, which is intended to encourage more spontaneous interactions. Dry erase solutions fit nicely by giving the ability to express and capture ideas on a large, blank canvas,” shares Coleman.
The composition of whiteboard/dry erase or chalkboard material varies. To place a blanket price over these specialty products and compare them to a color change vinyl or pressure-sensitive media would be unfair, as they aren’t all created equal.
However, taking cost out of the equation, many vendors believe whiteboard/dry erase and chalkboard media should be viewed as premium products. “Specialty products give print providers a chance to market a distinct and unique product to the end user, allowing them the chance for new sales opportunities,” recommends Goodman.
“The total applied cost must be discussed when making purchasing decisions,” advise Covello and Brunnett. For example, customers must be educated regarding the value-added ease of application of the chalkboard films because of their inherent light weight when compared to cost of traditional chalkboard installation.
Biel agrees that material cost should not be a barrier to this application. These products are not price-driven materials, but instead offer a chance for PSPs and buyers to differentiate themselves.
Chalk and Mate
Specialty takes on a whole new meaning with chalkboard and whiteboard/dry erase media. New levels of functionality are offered. Both provide additional leverage for any print provider looking to up sell a product and show customers different ways they can help them stand out.
Feb2015, Digital Output