By Lisa Guerriero
You’ve slaved over the graphic, font, paper, and ink. Yet there’s a final step in presenting your printed display—the mounting. Ill-suited accessories distract from a product, while the right mounting tools can blend with or even enhance its appearance. With so many methods of exhibition, and so many accessory variations, how do you find the right one for you?
The Icing on the Display Cake
Too often, print professionals underestimate the importance of mounting hardware and its impact on the product, says Dave Harris, VP/GM, ImageOne Impact. “I spend a significant amount of time at trade shows and in our local showroom with print shop owners helping them learn how to dramatically increase their income by asking just one more question to each of their buying customers,” explains Harris. “That question is ‘How are you going to hang it?’”
Manufacturers say the right mounting tools don’t just get the job done in terms of displaying an item; they also boost the overall appearance.
Kristin Kachur, marketing/publications coordinator, Rowmark LLC, parent company of ClearPath Signage Systems, says mounting tools even contribute to the “wow factor” of a display. “Fabricators and print professionals can easily be imaginative and make a design creation with just a few small touches or add-ons.” ClearPath also sells signmaking products, so the mounting accessories can be used in concert with them.
Kachur adds that creating a strong visual through good mounting isn’t just for interiors. “Decorative mounting hardware can be suited for much more than indoor use. It is now seen in outdoor display and directional applications, including the sides of buildings, parking lots, and public outdoor venues.”
Choosing the right hardware accessories can make all the difference in how signage is viewed, and even add to a printer’s bottom line. It’s “a limited investment that greatly increases the vision and perceived value of any graphic,” says Paul Bernstein, VP, Metomic Corporation, which makes standoffs, caps, and related components for installation, all manufactured in the U.S. Its products come in polish chrome or brushed anodized aluminum, and are available in virtually any size needed, from 3/8- to one-and-a-half-inch diameters, making them ideal for print professionals creating large and varied projects.
While some companies specialize in just one area—either standoffs and caps or mounting alternatives, for example—many provide a range of options for mounting flat or three-dimensional displays. Gyford Productions, LLC is one of these. “Our clients want an attractive, secure way to mount their project and appreciate aesthetics and build quality, whether they’re hanging a family portrait, supporting a reception counter, or creating something completely new,” explains Scott Murdock, marketing assistant, Gyford.
Most vendors agree on the need for mounting tools to evolve and improve based on demand.
“By and large, over the past few years, end users have expressed an ongoing desire for manufacturers to introduce a greater number of innovative, newly conceived items,” says Joey Shimm, director of marketing, Outwater Plastics Industries, Inc., “as well as to modernize current, mature products that have been in the marketplace for some time by implementing fresh designs and enhanced functionality in an attempt to attract new end users and hopefully entice existing customers to update their current applications.”
Stand and Deliver
Functionality is important, but “on a deeper level, the choice of hardware also helps fulfill a particular design vision or desired look. Today’s signmaking and print professionals are fortunate because there are many types of signage hardware, mounting, and cable systems to enhance project displays and designs,” explains Kachur.
Standoffs are one of the most popular mounting methods—a trend that most producers say is only increasing. ClearPath’s standoffs come in a variety to allow mounting to be customized, including triangle, square, and hexagon shaped standoffs from its Fisso line, with options for single- and double-panel displays. Many of the standoffs are available in multiple finishes. For imperceptible standoffs, offerings include the Fisso Fixxo, which is a transparent polycarbonate, and the Fisso Ghost, which is affixed to the back of the display to hide it. The company also offers a selection of other mounting fixtures, including rod and cable systems, screw caps, hooks, easel systems, clamps, clips, and grippers.
A big part of standoffs’ appeal is the numerous interior and outdoor display applications they’re suited for—banners, artwork, menu boards, product displays, and directories.
“Standoffs provide a cost-effective, elegant, and versatile solution,” notes David Pountney, principal, Pizazz International Ltd.
That’s why standoffs, and the accessories to augment them, are Pizazz’s focus when it comes to mounting tools. Its mono•mounts are intended for panel mounting, while the multi•mounts are best for graphic displays and allow for easy change outs. Both options are produced in aluminum, brass, resin, and hybrid, and there are several finish options. Pizazz augments these with d•parts that interact with the two kinds of mounts to increase the standoff distance or increase the visual impact by multi-laying or offsetting some panels. “multi•mounts enhance the graphics visual impact and their unique functionality makes installation fast and simple,” says Pountney.
Outwater Plastics offers numerous standoff sizes, with either polished chrome or a satin stainless finish to suit a display’s aesthetics. It also introduced LED integrated standoffs. Ideal for signage in lobbies and reception areas, the LED standoffs are sold with screws and anchors and hold panel material up to a half-inch. This approach “employs acrylic or Plexiglas sign holders to LED integrated standoffs that affix as the medium by which to diffuse backlit illumination to mounted graphics, posters, and promotional messages,” shares Shimm.
A visually appealing alternative to standoffs is Outwater Plastics’ Cap It Off caps, made from impact-resistant, UV-stabilized polypropylene. Sold in sets of four and offered in 20 colors, they’re ideal for enhancing or blending with a display. They snap onto the attached base and cover any screws that affix the signage to the base. The company also sells a variety of rod systems, wire and cable systems, and grips.
Gyford features options for standoffs in aluminum, stainless steel, black, and brass. However, it also offers a veritable rainbow of colors on a custom-order basis, with materials including chrome, stainless, aluminum, and nickel plate. Caps come sized in one-and-a-quarter- or two-and-a-half-inch diameters, and can also be custom ordered for color and finish.
It All Hangs on the Details
Alternatives to standoffs also adjust to meet buyers’ aesthetic preferences. ImageOne Impact changed its SpiderFeet—a standup steel base where the substrate is affixed with screws—to black so it blends better and puts the focus on the display.
“We used to sell a variety of colors in SpiderFeet but the only time they sold was at a trade show. Everyone wanted black for their signage needs because black just disappears and doesn’t distract from the message on the substrate,” explains Harris.
ImageOne Impact also use to make two of its hook systems in white, the Pick N’ Hook for corrugated sheet hanging and the Twist N’ Hook for foamboard hanging. It added a black option for the same reason—when the mounting tool needs to vanish against a darker substrate.
Hiding brackets is something ImageOne Impact is focusing on for next year, partly because of the visual appeal it would lend to the finished job. “We are looking at about a half dozen new mounting bracket designs that are all intended to be hidden from view when mounted,” says Harris.
The company also produces an array of brackets, hook systems, clips, A-frame hinges, and other products made for displays that need to be mounted on everything from a wall to a flagpole or a chain-link fence.
Even options for wire and cable systems have expanded. Companies like Outwater Plastics and Gyford offer systems that are almost imperceptible.
“For example, I’ve seen wire suspension systems, which use our smallest wire, almost make displays appear to float mid-air. On the other hand, wire can also be used to create an industrial design that is a feature in and of itself. In general, I find that our customers choose our products because they want them to be seen and contribute an element of class and creativity that just can’t be achieved by traditional mounting hardware,” adds Murdock.
In addition to standoffs, caps, and suspension systems, Gyford also offers a variety of grips, clamps, hinges, rods, and brackets, as well as kits to make installation easier for smaller scale print jobs. The company has several options for extrusions that come in lengths of eight, 12, or 16 feet, but can be custom cut on request, and are available in multiple diameters. Like its other products, they can be custom ordered in various colors and finishes. “Our clients constantly find new ways to present their work, and it’s our job to provide them with the best possible means to accomplish that,” says Murdock.
ClearPath’s cable systems, from the Fly family of products, are ideal for creating “interesting custom floor-to-ceiling and wall mount systems that can span an entire wall,” shares Kachur.
For those looking to preserve the integrity of a display—especially expensive substrates and panels—ClearPath offers many drill-free solutions. Some of the popular options are the Dimensional design edge gripper and the IX Bond panel connector, well suited for tight spaces and last-minute dimensional displays. Another big seller is its Fisso Clamper, available in seven sizes and able to secure sensitive materials without requiring drilling.
ClearPath recently introduced a new suspension product, the Fisso Flag, which allows the display to be suspended from a ceiling, such as a directional sign in a parking lot. These anodized aluminum panels come in three sizes, from 5.91 up to 17.62 inches, and can be installed several ways.
Durable products are in demand, and that’s especially true for outdoor displays. Nearly every standoff producer has at least one line that’s stainless steel and rust resistant.
Two examples from ClearPath belong to its Fisso collection. Fisso Steel is durable and corrosion resistant. It’s a capped, stainless steel standoff. It can bear a recommended load per piece of 66 pounds and is available in five sizes, ranging up to 1.97 inches in diameter. Fisso Mix is designed for mounting in hard-to-reach areas like corners and niches. The cap is tightened from the face of the display and doesn’t require set screws. It comes in four sizes, ranging from 0.51 to 1.57 inches in diameter. The latter accommodates up to 33 pounds. Many of ClearPath’s standoffs and mounting fixtures also offer a tamper-proof feature.
Outdoor durability isn’t just for standoffs. “If you use a steel bracket, you run the risk of being liable a year later to paint your customer’s building from all the rust that occurred. We sell that specific bracket in aluminum. There are no welds to break and no rust,” adds Harris.
Mounting accessories play an increased role in the presentation of printed displays. The finished product needs to strike a balance between functionality and fashion—and mounting tools are part of that.
Print providers must weigh many factors when choosing the right tool. Is the display permanent, or does it need to be changed out quickly and conveniently? Are weather and humidity a factor? Should a wall hanging lie flat against the background or be elevated? Moreover, should the mounting blend or enhance the signage? Whatever the answer, these tiny accessories make a big difference in presentation.
Oct2014, Digital Output