By Cassandra Balentine
Building wraps are among the most visible wide format graphic applications. In addition to the attention they command, many present alternative purposes like masking unsightly construction.
“Advertising by way of building wraps is a big business and it speaks for itself all over the country, especially in larger metropolitan cities. These vivid works of art can be looked at as advertisements that transition a space on the side of a building into a marketing device, which not only grabs attention but results in generating sales,” says Fred Propp, marketing coordinator, Value Vinyls.
It is essential the right material is used to ensure a successful building wrap installation. Depending on the specific project, its projected lifespan, and environment, these graphics need to withstand extreme heat and cold, harsh winds, and longer life expectancies.
Above: Agfa’s Duratex Supreme Mesh is a 90/10 product that also has a blockout liner for double-sided printing.
A variety of different mesh types are suitable for building wrap applications, including PVC, vinyl, and fabric options. 8 and 9 oz mesh vinyl with and without liner are common.
Mike Compton, product marketing manager, Top Value Fabrics, says mesh media options are made up of different weights and construction. They are suitable for a range of applications including building wraps, stadium graphics, fence wraps, barricades, large banners for building wall graphics, backdrops, murals, and event marketing.
Using the right material makes a big difference in regards to the durability and the print quality of the displayed graphics. “Using a printable mesh with anywhere from 35 to 40 percent air flow allows normal wind conditions to blow through adequately, which can mean the difference of the material holding up or becoming tattered and torn due to wind,” offers Propp.
Kylie Schleicher, product manager, Ultraflex Systems, Inc., notes that PVC mesh banner material features varying scrim patterns. “The mesh materials have different percent openings for increased air flow through. The material should also have high tear and tensile strength for outdoor durability so that the material can hold up to the various elements,” she offers, adding that different scrim patterns also allow for varying printable areas.
Gary York, wide format product line manager, Agfa Graphics, believes there are different schools of thought for large graphics printed on mesh—one is a very tear resistant product known as 90/10. The opposite would be a 30/70 product—commonly known as speaker mesh. He says it does not trap as much air as other mesh products. Speaker mesh is popular for projects with a lot of empty air space behind the graphic, such as stadium wraps.
He adds that 90/10 mesh—though it is extremely tear resistant—can catch a lot of air. Therefore, if it’s insulated in an environment where it is blown from multiple directions it can put a major strain on grommet reinforcements. Conversely, the 30/70 mesh, which performs well in a windy environment, does not handle extremely cold weather as well as 90/10. “The thicker PVC coating on the 90/10 mesh helps it resist breakdown in subzero conditions,” he shares.
Phil Hursh, CEO, NuConCept, says mesh is the preferred choice for building wrap applications where the graphic is set off from the building wall or when the graphic is applied over the building’s windows. The set-off method is used when there is a need to access the area between the banner and the building wall—for example, when a building exterior is being repaired or refurbished and the project owner wants to give an image of the future appearance, announce various forms of corporate identity, partially hide the construction activity, or use the mesh banner as a safety barrier to keep construction materials from falling onto persons or property below. “When applied over building windows, the mesh has reasonably good view through property from inside the building during daylight hours,” he shares.
However, if there is no need for air blow through or view through from inside, most building wraps use a basic front lit banner, not mesh, according to Hursh.
Schleicher says PVC mesh material is printable on various platforms such as solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex. She explains that printability of a specific product depends on the material and printer. Certain mesh products include a backer that prevents ink spray if the printer is not outfitted with a mesh kit or ink collector. Machines that do have this feature do not need the backer on the mesh product.
Benefits of Mesh
As previously noted, mesh is a popular product for building wraps. “It’s grown in popularity in the past few years,” comments York. “The ease of use and lower cost of installation are important factors in this growth.”
Hursh explains that mesh is lighter than most front lit banner material, so it has a weight advantage for large graphics that will be attached and suspended from the top of a building. Like banner material, it is available in widths up to five meters and can be welded to widen the width, which is limited only by the installer’s method and equipment. It also allows circulation behind when installed as a set-off, or view through from inside windows. “But, it’s not opaque, so it is not the choice if the goal is to completely hide what is behind. And, it’s typically more expensive than an 8 or 10 oz front lit banner and the graphic images won’t appear as saturated to the viewer’s eye as will graphics on a front lit banner.”
For PVC coated mesh, Compton says advantages include long-term outdoor durability for buildings under construction, especially when the mesh is subject to high winds and extreme environmental conditions. “These types of mesh also offer print service providers (PSPs) added flexibility in ink sets and printing equipment utilized to produce excellent graphics. Limitations are mostly around the weight and relative shipping cost of the printed product as well as installation sometimes requiring extra reinforcement such as welding the finished product and adding heavy duty grommets for mounting.”
On the other hand, fabric mesh products represent a good option for more temporary applications, such as building and fence wraps for marketing purposes. “Examples include golf tournaments, sporting event playoffs, concerts, trade show banners, and major theme park venues. Fabric mesh is lighter weight, saving in shipping costs and ease of installation. For these reasons, our fabric mesh products continue to see growth across many applications,” shares Compton.
In his opinion, PVC coated mesh and fabric mesh are both great options for building wrap applications, each offering specific features attractive to building wraps and banner applications including relative strength and durability. “As PVC coated mesh increases in weight, the openings for air flow decreases in size. Added weight provides features such as increased durability as well as a more printable surface, allowing PSPs to produce brilliant graphics.”
When it comes to billboard-style advertising, building wraps have become a popular method of showcasing a colorful graphic with a message on the side of a tall building. “This is mega marketing at its best,” exclaims Propp.
Hursh says the trends affecting the use of mesh materials are the same as those driving most of wide format print—the recognition that just about every flat surface can potentially be used as an advertising platform. That, and the understanding that wide format technology is able to cost-effectively deliver on demand graphic images in run quantity as little as one unique image.
Apply those two fundamental drivers to buildings—big, flat surfaces viewed randomly by thousands of passersby—and you have thousands of potential venues. “The fact is, it’s nothing new. Sign painters were putting calls to action and corporate identity on building walls hundreds of years ago. What has changed is the technology. And, unlike painting a nearly permanent message on a building wall, mesh and banner installations allow ease of installation, change, and removal,” explains Hursh.
“We see current trends affecting the use of mesh materials, increasing the demand of our fabric mesh products due to cost of savings in shipping and installation as well as increased durability for longer term use,” adds Compton.
York admits the industry is seeing a reduction in installation labor costs for mesh, which is helping with its growth.
Several mesh solutions are marketed for building wraps.
Agfa offers four products routinely used for building wraps. Duratex Supreme Mesh is a 90/10 product that also has a blockout liner for double-sided printing. Duratex Speaker Mesh is a 30/70 product. Duratex Premium Mesh is an 80/20 product sometimes used for building applications as a happy medium, says York. “Duratex Premium Mesh is stronger than standard 8 oz 70/30 mesh and allows more air flow than the 90/10 product,” he offers. Duratex Black Back Mesh is a specialty product featuring a black back that allows for ease of viewing and is printable on both sides. “Duratex Black Back Mesh is much easier to see out of than traditional all-white mesh. It has a 70/30 airflow and at 8 oz is not typically suited for large building wraps, but it’s popular for scaffold coverings in this particular market segment.” All four products are compatible with most solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and UV-curable inkjet printers.
NuConCept sources a line of banner, mesh, and specialty print substrates for wide and grand format digital print. Products are sold under private labels through select merchants and sign wholesalers nationwide. Its product line includes standard mesh, fine mesh, and a full range of front lit banners in a variety of weights and performance features.
Hursh says the mesh products supplied by NuConCept are compatible with solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and UV-curable inks.
The company intentionally sources fully cross-compatible products with all of the commonly used ink sets.
Top Value Fabrics’ PVC coated mesh lineup includes its 8 oz Denier Mesh with and without liner, 9 oz 1000 Denier Mesh, and 11 oz 500×1000 Denier Mesh with liner—all capable of being printed with UV, solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and screenprinting inks. Its 6 oz speaker mesh is printable with UV, solvent, eco-solvent, and latex inks.
The company’s polyester mesh product line includes its 6.8 oz Geo Mesh, 3.4 oz Pes-Mesh 6953GS, and its new PVC-Free Mesh 2582GFS. These mesh products feature proprietary coatings for excellent image sharpness and quality printable with direct disperse, dye-sublimation transfer, UV, and the newest generation of latex inks.
Ultraflex offers a range of mesh products, each with a unique scrim pattern and construction characteristics. The company’s flexible mesh PVC materials work with solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and UV printers and come in a variety of styles and widths to meet specific application requirements.
Value Vinyls offers its Rio mesh fabrics designed to provide eye-catching graphics with durability for outdoor use in vigorous weather conditions and feature adequate air flow for holding up in normal turbulent winds. The products have digital printability using solvent, UV, or latex inks and vinyl mesh is available with a film liner for large format print that requires a backing.
The Rio 8 oz. Mesh Deluxe and Rio 9 oz Mesh Supreme are available with and without liner. Both Rio mesh products have superior digital printability using solvent, UV, or latex inks and the Rio 9 oz Mesh Supreme is available with a film liner for large format printers that require a backing. Rio mesh are available in 126- and 196-inch roll widths to accommodate large building surface areas.
Building wraps are impressive applications that serve more than one purpose. Mesh materials are popular because they allow for wind to blow through. Fabric and PVC are available.
Dec2018, Digital Output