By Melissa Donovan
Superwide graphic projects continue to make a big impression in the out-of-home advertising market. Building wraps or large banners and/or signs that take up a large portion of the side of a building are a big attraction.
While advancements in adhesive technology make it possible for pressure-sensitive vinyl and non-vinyl material to edge into this market, traditional banner materials still remain large players. Banner material is available as mesh, fabric, or vinyl—and sometimes a combination of two or all three.
Mesh is a popular choice for outdoor projects because it allows the wind to pass through and is a lighter weight. Fabric is increasing in popularity due to its eco-friendly characteristics, in addition to light weight that makes it ideal for both shipping and storage Vinyl banner material is popular for outdoor signage, particularly building wraps, due to its durability and longevity.
Above: BP Graphics of Phoenix, AZ regularly works with Cooley material for its building wrap projects.
Banner material in general is a great option for building wraps simply because of the amount of durability it offers in regards to withstanding wind, weather, and UV glare over an extended period of time in harsh conditions. Different scrim patterns and construction characteristics are offered for mesh, fabric, and vinyl. All of these choices enable meeting any specific application requirement.
“Selecting a banner material over another media option for a building wrap or outdoor project is dependent on different variables. In many cases, the product selected is based on durability, length of time in use, as well as exposure to outdoor elements at the given installation sites,” says Mike Compton, print media product marketing manager, Top Value Fabrics.
Tommy Thornton, national account manager, Polymershapes, believes the most popular material within the banner category for building wraps is mesh banner. “Mesh banner offers strength and durability with the added benefit of less stress on the building, the ability for wind to pass through it, and some view through properties. Often a building owner will not allow adhesive vinyl to be applied to the exterior of the building for fear that residue will be left behind after de-installation. Mesh banner provides a solution to this problem.”
The material’s tear and tensile strength as well as denier are important factors to consider when determining what to use. “The tear and tensile strength are the characteristics of how much force it will take to tear the material in the warp and weft directions. Another characteristic of the media is the denier. For outdoor use you want to make sure that the material has a high denier such as 1,000×1,000 for durability,” recommends Kylie Schleicher, product manager, Ultraflex Systems, Inc.
For example, Arlon Graphics, LLC offers its DPF 314 in two different denier options—500 or 1,000 depending on the durability the project necessitates. The scrim PVC banner material is available in either a matte or gloss finish, offering an opacity of 97 percent. It is compatible with eco-solvent, solvent, UV, and latex ink.
Grimco, which recently acquired Agfa’s Duratex line of media products, promotes Duratex 12oz. Supreme Mesh for building wraps. It is a 12 oz., heavy-duty coated polyester scrim mesh banner made to withstand harsh, windy environments. The tear-resistant product is constructed of 1,500×1,500 denier scrim reinforcement.
Ultraflex’s UltraMesh Premium 100 is a 10 oz. PVC-coated polyester scrim mesh banner material. Its basket weave appearance allows 30 percent air flow through, making it ideal for large building, stadium, and fence wraps. UltraMesh Premium 100 may be printed on both sides using solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex inks on printers that have mesh kits.
When a print provider is deciding on the correct banner material for a building wrap job, beyond the media’s qualifications, other things need to be taken into account.
Building wraps or structural wraps, as Compton refers to them, also require the understanding of how and where the finished graphic will be installed. Weight restrictions play into this and help to figure out whether grommets or corner tabs will be added for tying the graphic down to ensure structural integrity.
Thornton suggests specific measurements of the building as a factor, as it may lead to discovering that a certain material cannot be used. It is also important to determine what system(s) already exist on the building in question for securing the banner material to the building.
New and Hot
Building wraps and similar applications are influenced by current trends in design, branding, and promotional advertising.
Echoing the graphic arts’ overall trend toward textile-based graphics, Compton believes there is a growing utilization of fabric banner material for wrap projects. Top Value Fabrics offers PVC-Free Mesh 2582GFS, an eyelet mesh fabric constructed of high-tenacity PVC-free yarns engineered
with openings to withstand outdoor elements and provide excellent air flow properties. The 100 percent mesh polyester fabric is recyclable, flame resistant, REACH Compliant, and OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 Certified.
Bryan Rose, VP/GM, new business development, Cooley Group, notices customers using lighter weight vinyl more frequently in building wraps. “The newer, lighter weight materials are proving just as strong—if not stronger—than the standard materials.”
For example, the Cooley CoolFlex Seamless Frontlit is a digitally printable, lightweight, durable, reinforced vinyl substrate that can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications. It offers a smooth high-quality surface, which results in sharp printed images.
Viewing capabilities are another trend specifically addressed in some of the more recently introduced products. “Ultraflex UltraMesh Blockout offers the ability to print images on both sides; applications might include festival banners, concert banners, or open-air parking garages where graphics are seen from two directions. Ultraflex UltraMesh Eclipse, much like perforated window film, offers the ability to view through the mesh banner. You might have seen this material used at sporting events on interior fences or construction fences along with building wraps for its ability to provide 100 percent opacity,” explains Thornton.
Philadelphia, PA-based Big Mountain Imaging celebrates over 20 years in business offering grand and large format printing services in addition to an in-house installation department. About 25 percent of its work is considered building wraps. A typical customer, according to Jason Cardonick, president, Big Mountain Imaging, is anyone who needs a rush job done.
This was the case when the PSP was tasked with a building wrap for The Met Philadelphia by Live Nation. The request was for a 27×80-foot banner to promote Madonna’s upcoming tour—specifically the multiple shows that would be held at The Met Philadelphia. The PSP had 24 hours to print the graphic and 12 hours to install. Production began on a Friday at 6 a.m. and finishing completed by 3 a.m. that Saturday. By 5 a.m. Monday morning, the hardware installation was completed and three hours later the banner was unveiled to the public.
Big Mountain Imaging turned to Cooley CoolMesh for the project, which is a common choice for any of its building wrap jobs, mainly due to the material’s durability, consistency, and weight. “CoolMesh is always our go-to product for this application. It is light weight and allows for excellent ink coverage while maximizing air flow. In addition, it is 100 percent recyclable and radio frequency weldable. The superior graphic reproduction produces vibrant, sharp images,” explains Cardonick. A Durst Image Technology US LLC Rho 500R UV device handled the printing.
To maximize time, the in-house installation department performed a full site survey during the print and finishing process. They reviewed options for cabling and hardware, as well as confirming exact sizing of the banner. Over 200 linear feet of cable was used to hang the graphic.
The Madonna building wrap for The Met Philadelphia is just one example of how influential superwide graphics can be. “Our clients are looking for ways to guarantee their products are seen and building wraps give them this guarantee. They can’t be swiped up, turned off, or ignored. They are massive and in your face—a tremendously effective medium for branding,” shares Cardonick.
Combinations for Durability
The correct combination of mesh, fabric, and/or vinyl in a banner material makes for the right media for the job. In the case of building or structural wraps, the level of durability offered is paramount. Combining a material’s tear and tensile strength, in addition to denier, are considerations that must be taken into account during the decision process. In addition, outside factors like how the graphic is hung to weight requirements and how much wind it may experience while installed all influence material selection.
Dec2019, Digital Output