By Courtney Saba
Magnets provide a profitable income source in print shops. The high demand for this signage is due to the ease of use—specifically during install—and the ability to simplistically change out graphics. A new development within magnetic signage is presenting graphics in wider widths beyond 24 inches, an offering that is quickly being adopted by many manufacturers. However, media 24 inches in width is still popular.
This article looks at two options of magnetic signage—magnetic and magnetic-receptive media—and how width effects their usage. Traditional magnetic media is printed to directly. It can be magnetized before or after printing. Magnetic-receptive media is an overall magnetic display system, where a magnetic base is installed and magnetic-receptive graphics are printed and layered on top. Both are used in an increasing number of environments.
A common trend in the utilization of today’s magnetic signage is the introduction of wider width offerings. The width eliminates seams in large jobs and also makes smaller jobs more cost efficient. Media as wide as 48 and even 60 inches is now available.
Wider width media helps present graphics in new and appealing styles, eliminating seams in the final display product. “The wider width allows for a larger presence in the market. Customers are looking for alternative media options as compared to traditional banners,” believes Kylie Schleicher, marketing manager, Ultraflex Systems, Inc.
Specifically for wallcoverings and other very large format displays, Jim Cirigliano, marketing manager, Magnum Magnetics Corporation, agrees that some shops prefer to print to wider sheets in order to reduce the number of seams between panels. For others, the appeal of wider magnetic media is the improved yield on smaller cut pieces.
“Wider magnetic sheeting enables the wide format printer to maximize the material’s use by eliminating waste when laying out small format graphic print jobs,” says Darrell Adams, VP North America, Newlife Magnetics LLC. CAD cutting eliminates the need for old fashion cutting dies and makes quick and cost-effective print production layouts on wide magnetic sheeting possible. Production of small format print jobs on wider media is faster and more cost effective, he continues.
Adams suggests that advancements in printer technology, including new ink systems, printing widths up to 120 inches, CAD cutting systems, and online links to print profiles, open up a range of new uses beyond wider magnetic substrates for signage and graphics into décor and architecture.
Demand for wider width material comes from retail, restaurants, hotels, trade shows—basically anywhere the convenience of rapid change out of display advertising or designs is desirable, adds Jim Miller, technical sales, Adams Magnetic Products.
The Small Argument
Just because wider width options are becoming prevalent, doesn’t mean 24-inch material is irrelevant. There’s still a robust market for narrow media. It’s often the application or end use of the magnet that drives the decision on which width is ideal. In addition, wider width media does have its challenges.
“The market for 24-inch widths still far exceeds the market for wider format magnetic sheets at this time. Amid the evolution of magnetic-receptive materials in thinner, lighter, wider, and easier to print configurations, the 24-inch magnet widths are still highly utilized for the base product,” explains Miller.
According to Schleicher, weight plays a factor in the width of the magnetic media. Print providers are looking for low-cost, high-quality, effective ways to meet the demands of their customer. Smaller widths are often used because the wider material weighs more and is harder to handle.
The downside is the roll weight. In thicker gauges, magnetic media is heavy and becomes difficult to manage. “Also, because these pieces are magnetized, they could stick to some roll-to-roll equipment while being printed. It’s also thicker than most printable media, which can cause printhead height clearance issues,” notes Clay Reierson, project manager, Xcel Products, Inc.
In some cases, it isn’t easy to manufacture large format magnetic sheets. “Many magnet companies lack either the capital or will to invest in new technologies and are satisfied with their share of the classic market requirement for small format magnet widths of 30 inches wide or smaller,” suggests Adams.
At Magnum Magnetics, for example, superwide media was originally a challenge to accommodate at multiple levels of the manufacturing process, according to Cirigliano. But the company adapted based on customer demand for an American-made, wide-width product.
Magnetic-Receptive Versus Magnetic
Two types of magnetic media options are available. Each excels in certain applications. According to Michael Gertz, marketing manager, Master Magnetics, Inc., magnetic sheeting is ideal for magnetic vehicle signs, calendars, sports schedules, and business cards. Working together in a system, magnetic-receptive sheeting and magnetic media are ideal for retail point of purchase displays, menu boards, and bank interest rate signs to full wall mural graphics—all with easy installation and changeability, he continues.
Width availability overwhelming affects magnetic-receptive media, as opposed to magnetic. “The cost of calendar rolls versus demand of product is a key factor. When magnetic-receptive technology pushed the envelope of in-store wide format, lifestyle graphics magnet companies saw an opportunity to try to capture market share. This allowed them to invest in the expense of wider technology,” explains Joe Deetz, CEO, Visual Magnetics LP.
Width limitations are evident in the manufacturing and installation of the product, says Schleicher, as magnetic-receptive media can be wider than magnetic media due to the lighter weight of the product.
Miller explains that magnetic-receptive media is typically .010 to .013 inches thick, making it lighter and easier to ship, handle, install, and store.
These thicknesses are typical at even wider widths of 54, 60, and 74 inches wide, according to Reierson. “Having a variety of widths is important for both products, one size does not fit all. That said, magnetic media will be more negatively affected because of the slightly higher cost associated with the wider widths, mainly due to the weight and shipping costs,” he continues.
Adams adds that in many cases magnetic sheets—especially those used as the magnet base in a magnetic-receptive system—don’t need to be much wider than 30 inches. “The magnetic-receptive media will hide all the seams within the magnet base. In this case, magnetic sheeting widths of 30 inches or less are preferred because install is easier if the widths are smaller.”
Wider Widths for You
Adams Magnetic Products’ MAGbond Magnet Media System consists of three components—the magnetic-receptive sheet, magnet base, and MAGbond magnetic paint. Magnetic-receptive sheets are available in 50, 54, and 60 inches in either white paper, PET, or canvas lamination.
Magnum Magnetics offers DigiMaxx, a superwide printable magnetic material. It allows printing directly to magnets up to 40 and 48 inches wide. Made in the U.S., the media is a 20- or 30-mil thickness and available in both matte and gloss finishes.
MagX America, Inc. sells magnetic-receptive products in 50-, 54-, and 60-inch widths. Roll weight is 58, 60, and 64 lbs, respectively. The material is a 10-mil matte white polyester laminate. The company also offers printable magnetic sheeting under its Xtrawide product line, in widths of 24, 30, 40, and 48 inches.
Master Magnetics’ magnetic graphic system is comprised of its PrintMagnetVinyl magnetic sheeting and FlexIRON magnetic-receptive sheeting. FlexIRON is available up to 48 inches in width and standard roll lengths of ten, 25, or 50 feet.
Newlife Magnetics’ printable magnetic sheeting is now available up to 50 inches wide. It features a vinyl print surface with either a matte or gloss finish. The company also offers its Maco magnetic system, made up of high-quality steel sheeting Ino-Steel and a magnetic base referred to as Wall-Mag. Width ranges from 24 to 60 inches and standard thickness is 10 to 13 mil.
Ultraflex recently announced its magnetic-receptive line of media, Signetics. Signetics Select is available in roll widths of 54, 60, and 74 inches. Signetics Duo is printable on two sides and available in widths of 54 and 60 inches. Signetics LTX is for use with latex ink and available in widths of 54 and 60 inches.
Visual Magnetics offers its VM-Graphic System, which uses a magnetic-receptive Micro-Iron based primer called ActiveWall, a flexible magnet backer called InvisiLock, and a magnetic-receptive line of print media referred to as MagnaMedia. MagnaMedia ranges in width from 42 to 60 inches, depending on the finish used.
Xcel Products’ XMR v2.0 magnetic-receptive media is available in 54-, 60-, and 74-inch widths. This newest iteration of the company’s product incorporates enhancements like a brighter white, enhanced stiffness, and improved durability. It also offers XMR DS, a double-sided magnetic receptive, available in a 60 inch width.
Width is a hot topic that enables seamless, larger signs and smaller runs that can be effortlessly ganged up to print quicker. It doesn’t come without its challenges, however, as handling and manufacturing are issues. In both cases—magnetic and magnetic-receptive media—demand is due to ease of use, cost savings, and the capability to effortlessly change out graphics.
Jul2016, Digital Output