By Cassandra Balentine
Part 1 of 2
The industry offers many options for graphic displays. One example is silicone edge graphic (SEG) solutions. These typically feature a fabric print and a sturdy, reusable frame. SEG systems are made up of three prime components—frame extrusions, corner keys and splices, and the graphic with a silicone beading.
Ideal settings for SEG include trade shows, retail, airports, malls, and museums. Further, providers add backlighting for added impact when appropriate.
In business since 1941, Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures, Inc. provides fabric and metal structures for displays, buildings, and outdoor areas. The company services designers, contractors, and architects from around North America. The organization is located in St. Louis, MO, operating out of a 69,000 square foot facility that employs a staff of 80.
“For 80 years, architects, designers, and contractors have trusted Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures. for both functional and artistic fabric and metal structures,” comment Jeni Anders Jaster and Jim Knoche, Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures. “We are the premier manufacturer of fabric and all-metal awnings and canopies, fabric and metal exhibit components, fabric banners, tension fabric exhibits, fabric architecture, tensile structures, industrial fabric products, and architectural ornamentation.”
With its expertise in fabric and structures, the inclusion of SEG was a natural progression. The company added the service about six to eight years ago when it noticed increased demand and did not want to see the work go elsewhere. Today, SEG represents a small, but effective offering for Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures. Jaster and Knoche note that less than ten percent of its business is SEG, but this is a variable estimate.
Graphics for its SEG displays are printed using dye-sublimation (dye-sub) printers and finished with a heat press, cut table, and sewing machines from Brother International Corporation and Juki. The company operates both EFI and d.gen printers.
Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures prefers water-based inks because they are void of chemicals and safe for all environments, including hospitals, schools, and museums. It also favors Fisher Textiles polyester fabrics due to their durability and quality.
For displays, Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures manufactures and purchases SEG extrusions. A portion of the SEG sales are recovers. Therefore, it purchases from various vendors depending on clients existing hardware.
All About SEG
Jaster and Knoche note that the biggest selling points for SEG include removability, ease of installation, and changeability. The most challenging elements include finding the correct formulation for stretch and sizing as well as determining the proper gasket for each existing system they encounter.
Some of the most common questions presented by interested clients include how much frame exposure there will be, if the frames are portable and paintable, if they break down for shipping, and if they are free standing or wall mounted. The company also receives many requests for backlit SEG displays.
Typically, once an SEG order is submitted, a work order is written up. Then a pattern or template is created and sent to the client so the graphics can be setup and sized properly.
After the client has completed the file setup process, they upload the graphic file via Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures’ website.
The company then receives and reviews the file and generates a digital proof for client approval. After the digital proof is approved, the order is released for production.
While the graphic is printed and sublimated on the specified material, cut, marked for sewing, sewn, and the frame is pieced together by the weld shop.
Once sewn, the graphic is fit on the frame. It then goes through a quality control inspection. After approval by the inspector, the frame and/or graphic is released for packaging and labeled for shipping.
Depending on the size of the project and whether it is just the fabric or a frame as well, the turnaround time is typically about two weeks for SEG products.
Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures offers high-quality fabric and metal products, including SEG displays. One thing that sets it apart is its approach and ability to stray from the cookie-cutter designs in favor of custom manufacturing.
The path of the company awaits the winding down of the current COVID-19 pandemic. But it feels fortunate to be considered an essential business, remain open, and continue to fabricate and install products. “The hope is that when the COVID -19 epidemic ends, our exhibits and experiential display markets flourish,” conclude Jaster and Knoche.
Mar2021, Digital Output