By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 2
Fabric-based backdrops are easy to print, use, install, and take down. It comes as no surprise that more end users are requesting them. Sometimes these backdrops need a frame to hang or be displayed on. Frames must be heavy duty to hold the weight of the fabric, while simultaneously light in appearance to not distract from the graphic. In addition, they should be easy to assemble the end user will put everything together without any assistance in most scenarios. All of the above is especially true in regards to large—20 feet wide and over—fabric structures.
High Impact and Unique
With the increase in fabric printing requests, it is only natural that larger fabric structures are becoming more popular. Features that print providers and their customers look for include high-impact visuals and unique options that help them stand out.
“Our network of print providers request solutions for large fabric structures that are easy to setup, breakdown is compact as possible, lightweight, sturdy, and can be easily re-configured,” shares Michael Kurilec, managing director, Expolinc.
“Over the past few years we’ve experienced an increase in demand from print service providers sourcing fabric structures for their clients that are visually impactful, and feature both commonplace and unusual and organic shapes. Large scale fabric structures provide the versatility and flexibility to create custom shapes that align with logos or brands to ensure that the booth or structure stands out,” explains Natalie Whited, VP of marketing, Orbus Exhibit & Display Group.
Beyond the usual requests for ease of use and stability, Ed Marquez, president, Mark Bric Display Corp., says modularity, functionality, and the ability of supporting different media for frontlit, backlit, and light blocking graphics are all important features to the end user.
Heavy Duty Weight
Frames should be heavy duty to hold the graphics, but small in structure. This is achieved on today’s products in a number of ways.
According to Marquez, lower weight aluminum alloy and design extrusions provide the needed strength, but use less metal. This is a common type of metal utilized by most large scale frame manufacturers. “The answer is in the engineering and intricacy of the profile and it is invisible to the user,” he shares.
“High-grade aluminum alloy is typically used in systems to ensure stability without adding excess weight. The best approach is to develop a system that minimizes the amount of hardware required, yet be sturdy,” continues Kurilec.
Whited adds that aluminum extrusion frames also address stability issues. “These are nearly 100 percent covered by push-fit, silicone edge graphics (SEGs). By doing so, the right balance between strength and profile is met.”
All in all, “the art is in coupling a frame that is heavy duty enough to securely hold the fabric graphics, but is still lightweight and packs and ships easily,” shares Whited.
Print providers look for large fabric structures that are easy to assemble, especially because customers will often put it together on their own. Common features found on large fabric structures play into ease of assembly.
Orbus’ fabric structure line, Formulate, features push-button connectors that allow for ease of use and storage. “Tubes quickly and securely link with the help of push-button connectors, and store and ship compactly. This allows for easy assembly, whether the person doing so is an expert or using the display for the first time,” says Whited.
“SEGs are a very popular solution because they easily attach to the structures. Another key feature people seek are systems that do not require tools to setup. Also, people like to reconfigure the system without significant incremental expense,” suggests Kurilec.
No matter how the pieces are connected, Marquez says the number one requirement for ease of assembly is lack of tools. “Even small Allen wrenches can be left behind and cause trouble in assembly, hex heads can be damaged and won’t provide a good placement of the tool—so no tools is always best.”
“The frame construction needs to be intuitive. If you need to study a book to put it together it is no good. There needs to be a balance between fewer parts to build a frame and parts small enough to fit in shippable cases,” he continues.
Printer providers—and their customers—look for unique, heavy duty, and easy to assemble framing systems when it comes to acquiring large-scale fabric holders. Hitting these three criteria accomplishes exactly what is needed for a safe, high-quality display.
The next part in this Web-exclusive series reviews some of the top framing systems over 20 feet in width for fabric graphics.
Jan2016, Digital Output DOLSF1601