By Melissa Donovan
Silicone edge graphic (SEG) frames are used in display and point of purchase (POP) to trade shows and even as wall dividers during times of crisis, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are often paired with fabric graphics. Visually attractive, the framing systems are also practical—ease of setup, light weight to ship, and graphics can be switched out fairly simply.
Many SEG frames are outfitted with illumination—backlit, front lit, or edge lit. The added feature elevates a graphic’s appearance and provides ease of viewing at night or in dark lighting conditions.
Above: Banner Ups by Budnick offers SEGDesign frames made from a durable ABS polymer.
SEG frames outfitted with fabric offer a host of advantages. A clean look, easy installation techniques, inexpensive shipping, and application versatility are main reasons to offer this product.
“SEG frames with printed fabric graphics are a top pick because of graphic quality, cost effectiveness, and ease of assembly. All of this combines to create a bright, clean, and upscale appearance. Printing advances create brilliant colors and rich imagery with fabric media,” say Blake Fangel and Amber Rousselow, senior account managers, Xcel Products, Inc.
Nothing compares to the high-end look of a fabric graphic in a frame. “The ease in using a display more than once and still maintaining its professional look is important. SEG frames with fabric graphics provide a clean look,” agrees Candice Lucio, sales manager, Birttani Display.
“It’s the stretch created from certain fabrics to produce the perfectly snug drum fit. Nothing but fabric could create such a beautiful look,” admits Paula Goodelman, VP of sales, Testrite Visual Products.
The stretch paired with how the graphic is attached to the frame achieves a flawless appearance. “The hidden edge of SEG eliminates the frame and puts the focus exclusively on the graphic to produce eye-catchingly beautiful and modern images,” adds Darius Augustine, president, Alpina Manufacturing LLC.
Installation techniques for the unexperienced are generally not an issue. “The SEG/fabric method is easy to install as the components are relatively simple. Once the frame is installed, the fabric face is easy to remove and swap out with a new image for seasonal promotion or a fresh look,” shares Rick Hatton, business development manager sign and graphics, Budnick Converting, Inc.
“When it comes to installation, many systems are assembled without tools. Graphics can also be easily updated in the field,” notes Michael Kurilec, managing director, Expolinc Corp.
Fabrics are light weight and the frames breakdown into manageable pieces for shipping. “This gives print service providers (PSPs) the ability to convert client budget that previously was used for freight and installation to bigger, richer graphics to get changed out more frequently,” explains Karen Gaconnier, director of sales and business development, Brite Frame Fabricators.
The versatility of SEG frames allows them to be used for nearly every application in any environment. For example, one of the more popular frame configurations, according to Tara Lamb, president, Global Imaging, Inc., is a double-sided, free standing frame. “These may provide descriptive signage helping people learn about new products, provide direction to a specific area, or help with engaging customers.”
Many frames with silicone edges are outfit with lights making them either backlit, edge lit, or front lit. The added light source enhances the cleanliness and quality of the graphic further.
According to Goodelman, customers love illuminated frames because the light gives the graphic a sharpness that couldn’t be achieved otherwise.
“When a ‘wow’ factor is desired, customers need a sturdy light box frame to provide illumination from behind the textile print. These can be any size and the grand format folks specify massive light boxes to support prints. A properly designed light box system provides a clean, sleek look with bright, even illumination,” shares Gaconnier.
Oversized light boxes as well as those fitting into custom spaces like a window or gondola displays are popular, according to Fangel and Rousselow.
Mike Morrison, national sales director, WS Display, shares that one of the more recent hybrid applications seen with light boxes in particular is a combination of branded message and POP product placement. “For instance, a light box with a shoe brand will also use shelving and shoe placement on the box itself, doubling the impact with virtual usage. Hanging or suspended backlit applications are popular as well as wall mounted versions.”
“Some companies offer and use programmable LED lighting with movement or color changes for additional enhancement and eye-catching qualities. These are typically done with a larger extrusion size for the frame to accommodate the lighting,” suggests Lamb.
The demand for illuminated SEG frames has grown over the years. At Expolinc, Kurilec says about half of the frame systems it sells are illuminated. However, he cautions that there is an additional cost involved but to avoid cutting corners to lessen the expense. “If not done correctly, uneven lighting, dark spots, and color mismatch can occur—thus wasting the true impact of illuminating the graphics.”
Hatton admits that while illuminated frames are popular since they add “pop” they are more expensive and complicated to produce; therefore non-lit SEG signs are still widely preferred.
“Both options are popular, depending on the goal. Non-lit frames make a great impact while being economical. Backlit frames can be more popular because they effectively steal attention from shoppers,” adds Fangel and Rousselow.
When collaborating on an illuminated SEG project, SEG frame providers, the PSP, and the customer need to keep a few things top of mind. These include the design of the frame around the lights, choosing how many lights to use and where they will be placed, the amount of power necessary to run the lights, and the density of the printed images—to prevent being washed out.
When thinking about the design of the frame around the lights, size must be considered. “A larger frame requires more lights or a special type of light. Without the correct amount the result could be spotty and unacceptable,” explains Fangel and Rousselow.
Lucio adds that a clean design is great to have. This includes the lighting being completely concealed and not exposed.
Simple is better, stresses Morrison. “More often than not, a majority of backlit applications are square or rectangular. In general, keeping it simple versus complicated works out best most of the time from a design perspective.”
Choosing how many lights to use and where they will be placed depends on the style of lights. For example, Global Imaging’s lights have roughly a 48- and 60-inch throw. “So how many lights needed depends on the graphic, the size and shape of the frame, and which lighting system is used,” says Lamb.
At WS Display, light treatment is determined by the size of the frame. “Most edge lights have an approximate four-foot throw of light. So if a frame is 4×4 feet, edge lights on one side of the frame will suffice, whereas if the frame is 10×8 feet, opposing lights across the top and bottom will work,” outlines Morrison.
The energy necessary to run the lighting depends on type of lighting and power used, as well as the end location of the power. “Some customers opt for external power supplies so the frame can be as thin as possible and have even lighting throughout the configuration,” share Fangel and Rousselow.
According to Lucio, the power required to run a display or a few displays at once should be able to run on a standard outlet and not need an additional amount of electricity.
“There are a variety of options including a standard wall outlet to internal adapters that can run multiple lights in a row and save on the number of outlets that are needed. Overall, the required power is minimal but the consideration to be made is the location of the power sources and outlets,” suggests Lamb.
To ensure when the light hits the image it won’t be washed out, the density of the image should be considered. Fangel and Rousselow admit meeting customer expectations here can be a challenge. “Sometimes if an image is mostly white, with light gray lines and not much contrast, plus placed in a bright environment, the result might not meet the customer’s vision. Landscapes and colorful images with contrast and offsetting colors are the best in finished appearance.”
Brite Frame Fabricators developed a software program specifically for light box design, which helps achieve the correct number of lights, accurate lumen levels, placement, wattage, and efficiency. “Using our computer generated process, all a customer needs to know is the size, application, and orientation of the light box. The lighting for that specific project is then automatically designed to create the best, most even illumination,” says Gaconnier.
Social distancing is the new normal and many graphics products are used to promote and educate on safety habits in public spaces. SEG frames are integral in this and used in a number of ways—whether illuminated or not.
Found in public areas like lobbies, service counters, hair salons, as well as restaurants, “freestanding SEG frames are the ideal platform for creating social distancing structures. Frames with footprints can sit on the floor or on desks and workstations to help create separation between office workers or assembly workers,” says Gaconnier.
“SEG frames provide the ability to create securely standing mobile room or hospital dividers, screening chambers, or even desk dividers to create a safer working environment. They are used as barriers, freestanding moving walls, sneeze guards, and protection signage,” explains Lamb.
For images, there are opportunities to include branding messages, background art, or nothing at all. “Frames can be covered with printed graphics or they can be set up with acrylic or clear PVC to create a lighter, more open feeling in any situation,” shares Gaconnier.
Lucio notes that with the fabric graphics in SEG frames so easy to change out, this is ideal for social distancing restrictions, since rules continually change and the displays can be updated easily.
Portability is an advantage, especially as business owners adapt to evolving guidelines. “Since SEG frames are lightweight, they are easily placed and moved to help businesses guide and/or re-direct patrons throughout their store,” notes Augustine.
Also, don’t forget about cleanability. “Aluminum frames can be wiped down easily to keep them germ free while SEG fabrics are washable and easy to maintain,” adds Morrison.
SEG frame usage will only increase as a result of social distancing, according to Hatton. “The bottom line is that customer facilities will not be as open to outside contractors coming into their locations as in the past. SEG signs are attractive because they don’t need an installer to change the faces—anyone can do it. That reduces cost, time, and risk—something everyone is keenly pursuing now.”
“The unlimited potential for SEG frames to be installed almost anywhere, at any size with a custom message for a variety of environments, especially in changing times, makes them an attractive choice,” agrees Fangel and Rousselow.
SEG frames are ideal for product advertising in retail or at a trade show. They also act as barriers and informational pieces in public spaces, more so now than ever as COVID-19 remains in our society.
Offering ease of installation and graphic change outs, cost-effective shipping due to low weight, and a clean, elevated appearance, SEG frames provide unlimited potential for PSPs and their customers.
Oct2020, Digital Output