Magnetic and Magnetic-Receptive Media Gain Popularity
By Cassandra Balentine
Magnetic media is well suited for a range of wide format applications. Benefits include ease of installation, reusability, and easy change over.
Additionally, it offers renewable revenue potential. Brian Cheshire, sales manager, Xcel Products, Inc., puts it simply by explaining “magnetic materials can be easily sold with a solution return on investment.”
Jim Cirigliano, marketing manager, Magnum Magnetics Corporation, agrees that “printing magnetic material is a profitable business.” For the print service provider (PSP), magnetic signage represents a great way to diversify the product mix and tap into a fast-growing market and renewable revenue stream. For the end user, magnetic material presents high-quality images with the flexibility to be easily interchanged and updated in a cost-effective manner. “It’s no wonder demand for magnetic signage has grown consistently,” he adds.
Under the category of magnetic media, there are two distinctive options. First is magnetic media, which is printed directly while magnetized, or printed on and then magnetized. The other is magnetic-receptive offerings that work as part as an overall magnetic display system, in which a magnetic base is installed and magnetic receptive graphics are printed and layered on top. Several providers offer printable magnetic or magnetic-receptive media.
Adams Magnetic Products MegaMAG is a wide format magnet sheet available in 40- and 48-inch widths. It is available with standard 30-mil thickness, or if a lighter weight is needed, customers can order a 20-mil product. It is available plain, with adhesive, or with a printable PET laminate that can be used with UV and latex ink printers.
Jim Miller, technical sales, Adams Magnetic Products, says the product works well with the company’s magnetic-receptive MAGbond, which allows designers to create displays measuring up to 60 inches wide. He says the new magnetic-receptive material is gaining traction in the wide format market. MAGbond is available in a 60-inch width, 10-mil ultra-thin ferrous material with a PET laminate that can be used with UV and latex ink printers.
“Since many displays are used indoors and there is a high rate of change out, the market is demanding a more economical and efficient magnetic-receptive printable media,” explains Miller. Adams Magnetic Products introduced its indoor MAGbond AMAP with a high white point art paper laminate. “It gives customers the ability to react quicker to changes in marketing strategies without an excessive cost tied to it,” he continues. MAGbond AMAP art paper laminate is compatible with UV, latex, laser, offset, and flexographic printers.
Flexmag Industries, Inc., a division of Arnold Magnetic Technologies Corp.’s FlexCoat – EZ offering is designed to eliminate the issues associated with conventional flexible magnetic products laminated with a printable surface. Due to its unique coating, Steve McLevey, product and customer service manager, Flexmag, a division of Arnold Magnetic, says hassles like curling, delaminating, and gummed-up cutting blades are eliminated so users can easily produce magnetized items such as signs, posters, business cards, displays, and calendars.
The company’s patent-pending FlexCoat – EZ utilizes a strong magnetic sheet as a base, which is then coated with a printable surface designed to be compatible with most popular printing methods.
John De Leon, director of sales and marketing, Flexmag, a division of Arnold Magnetic, notes that the company’s magnetic material is manufactured in the U.S. and supplied to customers all around the world.
Magnum Magnetics recently introduced DigiMaxx for wide format printers, available in widths of up to 48 inches. It is available with matte and gloss finishes that help to bring out the vibrant colors of printed graphics, and offer excellent ink adhesion and smudge resistance.
“Before we launched DigiMaxx, all of the printable magnetic material more than 40 inches wide used in North America was manufactured overseas and had to be imported,” says Cirigliano. “DigiMaxx is made in the U.S., meaning better delivery speed, outstanding product quality, and unbeatable customer service. Best of all, there are no ‘slow boats’ required, thereby eliminating the delays associated with importing materials from overseas.”
MagX America, Inc. recently announced new Xtra-Wide products to its MagX line of printable magnetic sheeting. MagX48 is a printable magnetic product measuring 48 inches in width suitable for use in point of purchase (POP), signage, and display graphics.
Master Magnetics, Inc. offers wide format flexible magnetic sheeting and magnetically receptive sheeting that can be printed directly onto with solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex inks—PrintMagnetVinyl and FlexIRON magnetic receptive, and with aqueous inks—PrintMagnet and FlexIRON. The company’s products are available in widths from 12 to 48 inches and custom cutting or slitting is also an option.
Newlife Magnetics LLC currently offers printable wide format magnet materials up to 48 inches wide in the U.S. and plans to expand its magnet materials up to 60 inches wide in its portfolio later this year. The company also offers wide format magnetic-receptive materials up to 60 inches wide. “We have materials for a range of ink profiles and printer setups,” says Darrell Adams, VP/GM, Newlife Magnetics.
Adams notes that the demand for wider, thinner, and stronger magnet materials has resulted in the development of new magnetic substrates.
Rochester Magnet Co. offers a sheet magnet with standard widths of 30.5 to 42.375 inches. Lengths of 50 feet can be converted or customized for unique applications. The product is readily available in sheet sizes of 8.5x11, 12x18, and 20x24 inches and the company converts magnetic sheets to specification.
The Visual Magnetics Graphic System is a three-part solution that provides changeable, layerable graphics. The technology uses a Micro-Iron coating to activate materials and walls so that graphics, décor, and wallcoverings can be installed without adhesives, rolled on and updated effortlessly.
“Our magnetic-receptive technology created an entirely new category in the print industry and has changed the way people approach the layerability of graphics,” says Daniel Halkyard, director of marketing, Visual Magnetics.
The Visual Magnetics Graphic System is comprised of the company’s patented magnetic-receptive ActiveWall primer, which is applied to a smooth wall surface and then covered with any paint color; patented InvisiLock magnet, which is a thin, flexible magnet layer applied to the magnetic receptive paint; and its line of MagnaMedia, a material developed by the company and coated with its patented Micro-Iron coating, which attracts the InvisiLock magnet backer.
“It is important to note that MagnaMedia is not a magnet. It is a print substrate that is very thin, flexible, and can be used with up to three layers, depending on the finish selected. Our line of MagnaMedia has over 17 finishing options such as fabrics, veneers, and dry erase, as well as value options like synthetic paper. We also have an adhesive version of our InvisiLock magnet that can be used for fixture or furniture applications,” says Halkyard.
Xcel Products offers a range of magnetic and magnetic-receptive graphics. Its product offering includes White Action - Matte magnet in .015, .020, and .040 thicknesses. Stock roll widths range from 24.375 to 48 inches, but custom formulations are available on request.
The company’s newest product is XMR – Xcel Magnetic Receptive media. XMR is available in roll widths from 54 to 74 inches and can also be sheeted. The product is the next generation of magnetic-receptive media with an affordable price point and exceptional performance. “We also carry a line of Action Magnet to support XMR, which includes adhesive-backed magnet and double-sided magnet for adhesion to other metal structures,” says Cheshire.
Andrew Carpentier, president, Rochester Magnet, comments that one size does not fit all when it comes to choosing the best magnet substrate or system for a particular application. Many vendors are ready and willing to help PSPs select the best option for a job based on specifications and life expectancy.
“There are two basic applications for wide format magnetic substrates,” recommends Adams. Large magnetic graphics are increasingly popular with brand in-store advertising. The thinner and stronger magnet and magnetic-receptive wide format print media makes quick and easy changes possible for large, in-store graphics.
In most cases, store employees are capable of changing these graphics with minimal training and effort. “The magnetic-receptive wall system enables multiple layers of graphics to be stacked on top of each other and arranged in different positions to quickly change the message or parts of the message. The ease in which these magnetic-receptive materials can be changed and/or rearranged makes it possible to change the entire message or mood of a space, room, or department with little time and effort,” says Adams.
He notes the second basic application maximizes the use of the latest and newest printing technology. “Wide format digital flatbed printers are now capable of printing up to ten feet wide substrates and automatically cut smaller graphics that are digitally designed to get the most economical use of the magnet substrate being printed,” he explains.
A print provider can lay two 48- or 60-inch wide sheets side by size and maximize print speed, graphic layout, and use of materials to produce high-volume small- or mid-size graphics faster and more economically. “Speed to market and lower cost have resulted in these advances in printers and magnetic substrates,” adds Adams.
“In most cases the graphics aren’t getting wider, but printers are efficiently printing multiple images on a larger sheet,” points out Cheshire. He adds that 48 inches is the maximum width Xcel Products offers because there is a point of diminishing return when dealing with the weight of these large rolls.
Mike Gertz, marketing manager, Master Magnetics, says magnetic substrates are most effective when graphics need to be changed out or removed frequently and easily. “Some examples are vehicle signs for cars, trucks, or vans; retail POP displays; full wall graphics; store directory signs; bank interest rate signs; and restaurant menu boards. Also, magnetic business cards, sports calendars, and restaurant take-out cards are popular uses of magnetic sheeting,” he points out.
De Leon suggests that promotional magnets have always been a standard application, but recently, magnetic car signs have become popular since they are mobile advertising and can be easily changed out to provide varying messages for different industry verticals.
“Another growing application involves large wall murals and billboard advertising where easy installation and few seams are desired,” says De Leon. “In all of these applications, the ability to print directly to magnetic materials while using the full width of a wide format printer allows for the most efficient use of both,” he adds.
Miller suggests that magnetic and magnetic-receptive materials are most commonly used for in-store graphics in retail environments and for menu boards, control charts, museum displays, and educational displays in schools or other venues.
Cirigliano says the largest magnetic materials entering the market today are often used for retail displays, POP, or other large format graphics. “Printable magnetics have always offered the possibility of interchangeable wall graphics and displays, but wider material makes larger graphics possible with a single piece of magnet, which is an attractive option because it simplifies and mistake-proofs installation,” he explains.
Magnetic substrates provide a simple, inexpensive, and elegant solution to replace signs at regular frequencies.
Carpentier has experienced many cutting-edge ideas from the signage industry. “Opportunities exist in other personal service industries like hair salons, spas, craft stores, and retail locations with changing specials.
De Leon cites recent trends where companies take advantage of directly printable magnetic media to produce products for typical promotional magnets with more efficiency. “Also, since the graphics are manipulated easier and the full width of the wide format printer is available, these same companies are creating new applications such as full wallcoverings for retail stores, malls, and other decorating and advertising purposes that look great and are easy to install,” he adds.
“Superwide signage is huge right now,” says Cirigliano. “Flexible magnetic material provides a retailer with the ability to mount interchangeable signage in creative, non-traditional spaces—on curved surfaces, ceilings, outdoors, and so on—in addition to walls, menu boards, and other traditional flat surfaces.”
Gertz points out that the use of magnetic-receptive solutions on walls and signs is a trend increasing the options for magnetic signs and graphics. “We’ve had our version, FlexIRON, since the mid-90s, but lately, more sign and retail graphics products are utilizing this combination of magnetic receptive and magnetic sheeting. As the evolution of magnetic receptive has been towards thinner and lighter materials, primary graphic images can be printed on receptive material and the magnet can be the base,” he offers.
Digital printing enables print providers to develop wide format graphics that are printed on multiple sheets, panels, or sections. “Large murals can be printed on materials that lap over on the edges without being cut or trimmed,” says Adams. “Digital wide format printing capabilities are only limited by the print substrates being used and the graphic designer’s imagination,” he adds.
Halkyard predicts digital wallcoverings as the next big market for printed media. “Hewlett-Packard, who we’ve worked with on several digital wallcovering promotions, says the market opportunity for digital wallcoverings is 37 billion square feet. The trend is now transformation,” he shares.
While the opportunity in magnetic and magnetic-receptive media is clear, the possibilities come to life when savvy print providers utilize the technology as part of their everyday substrate repertoire. Aion Solutions, based in Merrillville, IN, is a premier provider of products and services for environmental branding through the implementation of custom murals and graphics, displays, and specialty signage.
“Since 2004, our team of professionals and craftsmen have worked with designers and their clients to implement branded environments nationwide, from specification, product development, planning, and project management to fabrication and installation, walls to windows, floors to ceilings, and interiors to exteriors,” says Kevin Delahunty, president/CEO, Aion.
The company offers the specification, product development, fabrication, and installation of large format printed magnetic-receptive media, PSV, wallcoverings, banners, rigid substrates, dye-sublimation, dimensional signage, displays, as well as its line of Inflexion magnetic media wayfinding and informational signage and displays.
For magnetic-receptive work, Aion relies on Visual Magnetics. “We have been working with magnetic-receptive media for over ten years,” says Delahunty. “We started with large murals in retail applications for clients who wanted the impact of vibrant graphics and a cost-effective method of refreshing them. Since then we are seeing great interest in displays and directories that also utilize this technology,” he says.
While the print provider has looked into other magnetic alternatives, it prefers Visual Magnetics, which it prints to with a variety of wide and grand format printers using solvent, latex, and UV. The company primarily relies on UV for applications requiring the use of Visual Magnetics media.
In terms of applications, Delahunty says it cut its teeth on large murals and room wraps, but expanded into displays, directories, and a variety of other work. “The potential application uses—both aesthetically and functionally, are only limited by our imaginations. Visual Magnetics has a great, and growing, product range,” he adds.
As a provider with several offerings, magnetic systems are only one type of substrate that Aion specializes in. In comparison to other media options, Delahunty explains it is not significantly different to print on the magnetic-receptive products. “As in most media, you only need to understand the product and profile,” he continues.
Recently, Aion created a job for the Art Institutes of Pittsburgh, PA. The customer wanted to create dynamic displays that presented information and art at museum quality for the Education Management Corporation—a private secondary education provider that offers high-quality education in a variety of creative disciplines through the Art Institutes.
The PSP decided to go with the Visual Magnetics Graphic System due in part to its longstanding relationship with the media manufacturer. The job for the Art Institutes was part of a larger project that was rolled out over a period of ten months. The Aion team handled the initial install.
For graphic change outs, the provider developed a training package to allow the schools to utilize desktop inkjet printers to print graphics on packaged cut sheets, or to work with Aion to print them and ship them to the school. “The vast majority choose to print their own sheets as it gives them flexibility to experiment. We stock the cut sheets pre-packed,” adds Delahunty.
Magnetic media options, whether magnetic or magnetic receptive, continue to gain acceptance in wide format. Adams suggests that the average person may be surprised to learn that many of the graphics in retail stores, shopping malls, convention centers, airports, and outdoors are printed on magnetic or magnetic-receptive materials. Used for everything from business cards to wall graphics, the possibilities are endless.
Jul2014, Digital Output