In part one; The Marketer’s Guide to Printed Banners, we reviewed the marketing opportunities available to advertising professionals and brand managers using soft signage. Selecting the right materials and the proper finishing techniques is the keystone to an effective and appealing campaign. For years the standard material for banners has been PVC vinyl, however today our choices range from vinyl to mesh to polyethylene and even fabric. Let’s take a look at the selection of materials available to achieve soft signage success!
The go to material for single-sided short term outdoor banners remains 13oz scrim vinyl. The weight when referring to a banner material is the number of ounces per square yard that the material weighs. The vinyl is manufactured by coating both sides of a heavy fabric scrim (woven material) with PVC vinyl, with additional vinyl applied to the front side to make a smoother surface for printing.
For longer term or double-sided outdoor applications, such as light pole banners, we recommend using an 18oz block-out vinyl. This vinyl has additional PVC coating on both the front and back, making it ideal for printing on both sides, and also incorporates a block-out material sandwiched in the middle to provide complete opacity.
If your banner is being installed in a windy location or weight is a concern due to its large size, consider using vinyl mesh. Made using the same raw materials as traditional PVC scrim vinyl, vinyl mesh uses a more open scrim, or weave, that has the individual strands of fabric coated with PVC while leaving the gap between the scrim threads open. This creates tiny holes throughout the material that allow wind to pass through the banner and significantly reduce the weight. Need to cover a construction fence, wrap a building or create an enormous banner graphic outdoors? Vinyl mesh is economical, light weight and can be produced seamless up to 16’ wide or seamed together to create a virtually unlimited size canvas.
From retail environments to trade shows, textural appearance and image quality is paramount. Presenting your message in a premium fashion requires an elegant, smooth finish for your soft signage. Engineered primarily for indoor use, 12oz to 14oz Super Smooth block-out vinyl is a great choice. Available in a variety of widths up to 126”, the fabric scrim used is much finer than that used in traditional outdoor scrim vinyl, so the surface is smooth and printable on both sides and it incorporates a block-out layer to make it opaque.
Looking for the right material for a retractable or pop-up banner stand? Consider “no curl” banner vinyl made from a blend of polypropylene and polyethylene. These substrates leave out the fabric scrim, so they’re not suitable for outdoor use, but the edges won’t curl when installed in a banner stand. Available in both single-sided and double-sided blockout versions, scrim-less PE vinyl is also recyclable for the added green benefit.
Fabric is not just for clothing anymore – for the ultimate high-end look in soft signage, consider dye sublimated fabric. Knit or woven, dye sublimated fabric banners drape beautifully and provide bright, accurate colors that are breahtaking for indoor or outdoor use. Since dye sub fabric has a soft look it won’t give you trouble with glare plus the lightweight of the fabric lowers shipping costs and improves ease of handling.
Another great benefit of printed fabric is all of the finishes and styles available. Printable fabric is available as poplin, soft knit, heavy knit and poly duck to name just a few. Each fabric choice has its own unique look and feel, making it easy to create the exact effect you’re looking to achieve. And fabric is not just for indoor use – the curved teardrop flags, feather flags, and wind waver flags you see so often these days outside of retail establishments are printed on fabric flag cloth.
Look for next week’s bonus article: How To Achieve Banner Nirvana With The Right Finishing Techniques!
About the author: Peter Fradin is a 25 year industry veteran and a display solutions print specialist with BPGraphics. BPGraphics is a nationally recognized screen and digital graphics printer offering large, wide and grand format print solutions for 55 years. From fabric to vinyl – to rigid substrates of all kinds – big or small, BPGraphics’ knowledge and experience in the industry is unparalleled. You can reach Peter at 602-272-7907 or [email protected]