By Elizabeth Quirk
Perhaps you are looking for an advertising display to effectively promote your retail store’s sale, or an impressive banner stand to make your trade show booth memorable at an upcoming convention. No matter the event, retractable banner stands are ideal.
Marketers and first-time exhibitors love an easy-to-use pull-up banner. Once you have the perfect stand, it’s crucial to pick the right material to print onto. Media used in retractable banner stands needs to lay flat and not curl. Some of the latest products on the market offer these features and more—this is where blockout media, specifically film and vinyl, comes into play.
Benefits for All Signage
No-curl blockout products are generally multi-purpose substrates ideal for banner stands and double-sided hanging graphics. One of the most popular applications for this type of media is hanging aisle or window displays created with dowels and inserted in pole pockets on the top and bottom of the graphic, providing a smooth, two-sided, curl-free finish.
According to Ed McCarron, national sales manager, Dietzgen Corporation, the use of film products such as polypropylene, polyester, or a combination of the two are popular because they are dimensionally stable and resist warping or curling. The blockout property is important because it prevents any light from showing through the film and dulling the image.
“Banner stand advertisements are common in environments that have bright lighting such as trade shows, car dealerships, shopping malls, or bank entrances. Blockout films are the best performer in these environments because they prevent outdoor light from penetrating the film and reducing the vibrancy of the image and advertisement,” he adds.
By preventing light from showing through the film or image, it ensures that the pole holding the banner up, or whatever else is behind the stand, is not seen. For a banner stand, this is very important. At the end of the day, a blockout material makes graphics presentable and offers a high-end appearance.
According to Cory Jones, associate product manager, wide format, GBC and SEAL, blockout polyester is the most common media for retractable banner stand applications because banners are often placed in areas such as trade shows where there is a lot of light coming in.
Jones says fabric media can also be used as an alternative to polyester when banners are frequently transported, however, more companies opt for blockout materials because their clients want a better looking graphic.
“A banner vinyl blockout may look more low end and this is where film blockout products, whether laminated or not, have a better overall print quality look,” says Angel Georgiou, senior marketing specialist, imaging supplies, large format systems, Canon Solutions America.
Shaun Jaycox, product specialist, S-One Holdings Corporation, claims that those who choose to use a blockout vinyl banner are usually looking for a cost savings.
Preventing Show Through
A few different design methods prevent show through in films. McCarron states that one is to coat a layer of grey or dark ink on the back side of the film to add overall opacity to the media.
This is a similar concept to blue back paper—an outdoor billboard paper. “Blue dye is added to the back of the sheet to add opacity and prevent show through when a new billboard advertisement is pasted over an old one,” explains McCarron.
Another method is to add a metalized film layer to the structure. A metalized film is typically a polyester film with a thin lamination of metal on one side, similar to the inside of a potato chip bag. This construction provides 100 percent opacity and light block.
Darren Speizer, VP of sales and marketing, Drytac, agrees with McCarron, saying that a dark coated layer on the back of the film is one feature that prevents show through. Another option, he continues, “is a blockout layer as part of the film.”
Some banner media used for retractable banner stands has a high opacity and uses an opaque backer to prevent show through. In other instances, materials also have a blockout liner between two pieces of material.
According to Jones, bright white point is also a feature to look for when image clarity is important or the graphic incorporates photographs. Bright white point increases image clarity and the overall look of the graphic.
“We also recommend using an overlaminate when the media doesn’t already have a protective finish incorporated to combat against scuffs. When banners are placed in high-traffic areas such as trade shows, added protection is needed—especially when the banner will be used multiple times or for longer periods. More premium media often has an overlaminate on it already for added protection,” adds Jones.
Weight and Thickness
The weight and thickness of the media plays an important role. It determines how well the banner hangs in the stand and how long it may last over time. There is a common misconception that heavier media prevents curl, but in fact it may be hard to roll and difficult to transport.
Kylie Schleicher, marketing manager, Ultraflex Systems, Inc., argues that the weight and thickness of the media is important for use in retractable banner stands because each is made with specific specifications. Banner stands can only allow materials up to a certain thickness.
Alison Booth, inside graphic specialist, Piedmont Plastics Inc., points out that many retractable banner stand manufacturers claim their products work best with a media that is around 14-mil in thickness.
“Sometimes a 15 oz. product is too thick to fit into an inexpensive banner stand so other weight and thickness options must be available, such as a 13 oz. material,” explains Schleicher.
The material needs to be thick enough to promote dimensional stability, impeding sagging or curl. At 15-mil, according to McCarron, the panel should fit into most banner stands. It’s important to consider the total construction of the panel. If the intent is to add a lamination layer, it’s crucial to add the thickness of your laminate in the calculation.
E. Tyler Reich, director of product development, Que Media Inc., agrees, saying that weight can affect the appeal of the installation, but is not related to the quality of installation.
Media thicker than 11-mil could be challenging at the customer level, says Josh Cormany, digital media division manager, Gans Ink & Supply. He encourages using a 9-mil textured satin with a gray back.
Keeping an open mind about media weight and thickness is what Larry Delesio, business development manager, wide format materials, DAF Products, suggests, “there are many types of retractable banner stand designs, no one material will work perfectly in various situations.”
Curl and Lay Flat
Vendors combat curl in retractable banner stands by using layers of different films and thicknesses. This multi-layering of materials together is referred to as composite construction, according to Delesio. It’s similar to the way plywood is made, bonding thin layers together to make one stronger and thinner material.
Booth agrees, eplaining that the same display films used in retractable banner stands can be made with polyethylene terephalate and polypropylene laminated together in two or more layers.
In Cormany’s opinion, vendors are getting better at material laying flat by making more materials out of polyester and fabric, which have fewer tendencies to curl versus materials like polypropylene and banner material. “The reason that nearly all vinyl used in a banner stand application will curl at one time or another is that vinyl is not dimensionally stable and retains memory once it’s been retracted,” he explains.
The key is to select materials that are dimensionally stable and won’t stretch or distort during printing, lamination, or once in the stand. Printing and lamination can introduce heat to the media, and depending on where the banner stand is installed, it could also be exposed to changes in temperature and humidity.
All of these conditions, according to McCarron, can impact the stability of some media types leading to curl, warping, or sagging. “Polyester is a stable, flat medium that is not affected by moderately wide changes in temperature. It’s also very durable and will not stretch or tear,” he adds.
Jaycox explains that polyester features excellent lay flat properties, so the media used should have some amount of polyester built into it to resist curling.
Canon Solutions America’s Océ 10DF is a 10-mil blockout display film for aqueous inkjet printing. It is water resistant and offers no-curl features, making it ideal for rollable displays. The material is available in 36- and 50-inch roll widths.
DAF Roll-up Banner Film is an 8-mil 100 percent polyester film that offers side-to-side anti-curl gray back for light blocking purposes. It is ideal for retractable banner stands and other tensioned displays. Compatible with solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex printers, it is available in 36- and 50-inch roll widths.
Dietzgen POSPRO+200 is a 10.5-mil film composite that includes a metalized polyester layer. It features universal print compatibility. Printable on both sides with UV-curable printers, it is designed for retractable banner stands. The metalized layer in the construction provides 100 percent light block and can be used with or without lamination. POSPRO+LX is an 8-mil, 100 percent polyester blockout film. It’s designed for latex and UV-curable printers. The polyester construction stays stable and is not affected by the heat produced in latex equipment. It features a gray back that increases the film opacity and is single-side printable.
Earth Smart Eclipse from Drytac is a polypropylene blockout banner media. Available in 54-inch widths, it is compatible with UV printers. The material can be recycled in commercial plastics recycling programs.
Gans SRUF9-GB lays flat and doesn’t require lamination. Single-side printable, it is a premium satin textured polyester film with a gray back coat to optimize blockout. Available in 36×150 and 60×150 feet, it is priced at $0.33 per square foot. It is compatible with latex, solvent, and UV ink systems. PUM11-GB is a non-curl gray back film in a matte finish, offering single-side printing. Available in 36×100 and 60×100 feet, it sells for $0.47 per square foot. The material is compatible with latex, aqueous, and UV ink systems.
GBC’s SurePrint Polyester Ultra Dry Light Barrier is designed for aqueous inkjet printers. At $1.69 per square foot, prominent features include quick drying and an opaque gray back that prevents light from showing through. It is available in roll widths of 24 and 36 inches.
HP Everyday Blockout Display Film is $0.64 per square foot and compatible with aqueous and latex inks. It can be printed double sided with latex inks. According to the company, it produces rigid, durable displays with excellent lay flat properties. It is available in widths of 36, 50, and 60 inches.
LexJet Production Display Film SUV is $0.60 per square foot. Compatible with eco-solvent/solvent, latex, and UV-curable inks, it can be printed double sided with latex and UV-curable ink. The 10-mil film does not need to be laminated, so users can print, trim, and ship. Available widths include 36, 54, and 60 inches.
Piedmont Plastics SupraFLEX Eclipse is a blockout mater designed for high-resolution, durable double-sided printing. It is available in weights of 13 and 18 oz. and printable with solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex.
Que Media offers a full line of blockout media for aqueous, UV, latex, and eco-solvent ink sets. Its newest product is QM-HDSB, which is a silver back, 100 percent PET product in its Motif portfolio. It is available in roll widths of 24, 36, 42, 50, and 60 inches.
For double-sided printing, SEAL offers Gotham PVC Blockout with eco-solvent, UV, latex, and solvent ink options. At $0.45 per square foot it is a stiff, no-curl product. 100 percent opaque, it is quick drying and features a bright white point for indoor or outdoor use. There are also three blockout banner options available in the company’s NoLite series of products. They range in price from $0.82 to $1.24 per square foot.
Ultraflex Systems’ SuperSmooth PET Blockout is a 15 oz. scrimless, blockout banner material. The media is engineered for indoor use and features a non-curl formula that provides a lay flat appearance without the use of hemming tapes. The blockout layer in SuperSmooth PET Blockout is made from matted PET, allowing for easier separation during the recycling process. The material is well suited for double-sided signs and banners installed in banner stands. SuperSmooth PET Blockout is compatible for use with solvent, eco-solvent, and UV and available in widths from 38 to 126 inches.
Blockout for Banner Stands
Blockout media is designed to withstand being rolled in and out and handled multiple times. It also is created with high-resolution printing in mind since the signage will be viewed up close. Lay flat and no-curl properties are also of importance. Specifically for environments where light may affect the intended message, blockout film or vinyl is an ideal option for retractable banner stands in particular.
Oct2017, Digital Output