By Olivia Cahoon
Construction sites regularly use fencing to keep out unwanted visitors and create a defined perimeter for whatever project is in progress. The fencing provides an ideal canvas for advertisements and promotions.
To create superwide banners needed for construction areas, print service providers (PSPs) use grand format printers. Digital Output considers grand format printing anything over 95 inches in width.
Above: Materials used by Color Reflections include Agfa Duratex 13oz Scrim Vinyl Banner and Duratex Mesh.
At construction sites, superwide printed banners provide exposure for an advertiser and offer a venue to promote upcoming businesses, locations, and events. Additionally, banners are a versatile asset for construction projects by advertising to prospective clients and keeping employees safe by displaying safety requirements and instructions.
David Conrad, director of sales and marketing, Mutoh America, Inc., says printed construction site banners provide a number of benefits including protecting the surrounding area from debris and dust to maintaining a well-kept area that improves the overall look of messy construction spaces.
Randy Paar, marketing manager, display graphics, Canon Solutions America, agrees, citing two benefits of using printed media in construction sites. Banners can turn an otherwise ugly construction site into something more esthetically pleasing while providing an effective means to communicate information about the building under construction. “This can help in driving occupancy or business once the project is completed,” he adds.
“In addition, job site banners provide a level of security and privacy for the workers behind the fence,” shares Mike Kyritsi, president, swissQprint America.
However, construction site banners are prone to unusually high levels of wear and tear based on the nature of the construction. Conrad suggests PSPs use a durable material for construction banners to ensure the image is able to withstand the environment to maintain an effective and eye-pleasing site.
Like any outdoor installation, there are concerns about durability, installation challenges, potential city ordinances, and cost, according to Paar. PSPs and developers should consider city advertisement codes to ensure their banners can be used before printing.
More or Less
Printing superwide construction banners may be completed on a grand or wide format printer. However, using a grand format printer allows the PSP to print less banners for simpler production processes and maintenance.
While banners can be zip tied to the fence for easy installation, the number of grommets determines the amount of tension displayed across the banner’s surface. Banners produced on a wide format printer will require more grommets and additional installation to ensure it displays properly. “The smaller the format, the more seams that need to be dealt with, which can then result in increasing installation costs,” offers Paar.
According to Conrad, grand format printers like the Mutoh ValueJet 2638X make it easier to panel the length of construction site fences with larger sized prints versus numerous smaller panels that require maintenance.
The Mutoh ValueJet 2638X is a 104-inch eco-solvent printer that uses Mutoh eco-solvent or dye-sublimation inks. It includes a heavy-duty feed and take-up system, RIP, media cradle, and a one year onsite limited warranty. “With dual staggered printheads delivering print speeds of up to 1,186 square feet per hour (sf/h) and optional one-liter ink bags that save users almost 30 percent on overall ink costs, the Mutoh ValueJet 2638X is a productive solution for grand format billboard and construction banner printing,” shares Conrad. It is priced at $49,995.
Speeds and Resolutions
Construction site banners can be printed at high resolutions with low production speed or at low resolutions with higher production speeds. It’s recommended that PSPs balance speed and resolution options with the client’s demands.
“Image print quality really depends on the look and feel the developer is wanting to go for,” explains Conrad. He believes that since these banners are not viewed up close and for extended periods of time, they are commonly printed at lower resolutions for higher production speeds.
Paar agrees and says viewing distance is typically at a significant length away so lower resolutions and higher speeds can still produce very acceptable results. “Lower resolution files are easier to work with for a number of reasons—they transfer faster, take up less disk space, and can be more quickly interpreted by the RIP,” he offers.
However, Conrad points out that if the site is a high-end retail location or brand, the developer or management group may decide to have the images printed at a higher resolution for a more professional appearance in accordance with the site occupants or brand image.
“Lower resolution prints can be produced quicker and may use less ink, thus resulting in lower overall production costs and savings to the developer or management team,” adds Conrad. The opposite is true for higher resolution images.
Kyritsi provides the example of a swissQprint device printing in Speed mode at 2,217 sf/h for a banner that will wrap the skeleton of a building. Conversely, for a banner used on the edge of a sidewalk, the same swissQprint device could print at the same resolution but add one more pass at 1,109 square feet per hour.
swissQprint’s Nyala LED is ideal for construction fence signage. Released in May 2017, it prints in widths of up to 126 inches. The UV printer features nine freely configurable color channels and a real flatbed with a roll to roll and board option.
Inks and Media
Outdoor durability for construction type signage is a concern addressed by ink and media options. These banners can be displayed for months at time and must withstand humidity, rain, and snow while maintaining quality and safety.
Paar says that substrates for construction site banners include a range of products like aluminum composite panels, fluted polypropylene, and plywood. Banners may be mesh, scrim vinyl, or textiles, and inks include solvent, latex, and UV-curable.
Canon Solutions America Océ Arizona 6100 HFV UV flatbed series features a High Flow Vacuum system to improve the draw down capability of warped plywood panels. The Océ Arizona 6100 HFV was released in May 2017 and includes a 98-inch maximum print width and two-inch media thickness. The press prints at 1,668 sf/h and includes seven independent ink channels. The Océ Arizona 6100 HFV series uses Arizona IJC261 and IJC252 UV-curable inks.
Conrad suggests that eco-solvent ink is best for large construction-type banners because it provides high-quality output and long-term durability for outdoor applications—especially in an area that experiences heavy wear and tear from the environment. “Eco-solvent inks also provide excellent fade resistance and will last outdoors much longer without lamination than other inks,” he adds.
Before purchasing a grand format printer for construction site graphics, PSPs should consider job volume and if additional applications will be produced on the printer.
According to Conrad, if construction site banners and barriers are the only applications the PSP intends to print, a grand format printer is ideal. “If only a smaller percent of overall jobs will be for this application, a smaller printer like one with a 64-inch maximum width might be the smarter choice,” he suggests.
New construction projects and unfamiliar locations require additional considerations. Each city has individual regulations and ordinances for signage. Paar suggests PSPs become familiar with their local economic conditions, zoning, and demographics to avoid delays and reprints. He offers, “having an alternate source of work for the printer is always beneficial—particularly in the Winter season.”
Using images rather than text is becoming increasingly popular for printed media in construction sites. “Especially since producing them on an inkjet printer is fast and simple and the output is incredible,” says Conrad. Fully printed graphics capture passerby attention and bring increased exposure to the construction site’s purpose.
A Customer’s Take
Located in Philadelphia, PA, Color Reflections is a digital print shop offering grand format printing services. The company provides design, printing, and installation from standard banners to vehicle wraps and custom projects.
Color Reflections creates banners and signage to conceal construction sites behind scrim vinyl while offering a marketing opportunity for commercial builders, developers, and interior designers. The company’s construction graphics include acrylic graphics and chrome stand offs, architectural faux vinyl films, building exteriors, custom printed acoustic panels and quiet walls, custom wallcoverings and murals, dimensional lettering, distraction graphics for glass, eco-friendly products, and installation services.
Construction signage is created using fabric mesh vinyl, vinyl mesh, and ridged goods including Agfa Graphics Duratex 13oz Scrim Vinyl Banner and Duratex Mesh. Duratex 13oz Scrim Vinyl Banner is a lightweight substrate with an outdoor life of up to three years. Duratex Mesh is offered with or without a backer and is a lightweight mesh material for window areas. The mesh weave minimizes wind resistance while allowing air to pass through the material.
The company uses a UV ink on its vinyl construction banners. Eric Berger, president, Color Reflections, says this combination holds up well in exterior applications. Color Reflections generally prints all of its signage in high-quality mode with lower production speeds, including construction site banners.
According to Berger, each construction site presents its own challenges. “Some might be high up on a scaffold or in high wind. Mounting points are always a challenge. If it’s a new construction, the client would not be happy with us driving screws into their new facade,” he offers.
He advises PSPs considering purchasing a grand format printer for construction sites not choose a printer for that sole application. “But if you were to base it on that, you want a unit that allows for ink to collect in a tray so that you can run a mesh,” he suggests.
Construction site banners display messages while concealing messy areas. These applications are best produced with grand format printers but can also be created with wide format devices. Because construction site banners are prone to high levels of weathering, it’s important that PSPs use materials that withstand harsh environments to keep the graphic engaging.
Dec2017, Digital Output