The demand for high-quality, portable trade-show graphics is growing. Find out about the media for these applications and learn how to pair inks and substrates for maximum impact.
By Ed McCarron
Trade-show graphics are one of the most important applications in wide-format digital printing. These graphics take many forms, ranging from textiles (soft signage) to backlit films to paper- and film-based substrates. Today’s wide-format digital printers and the expanding variety of specialty media designed for them make the creative possibilities for trade-show graphics and displays seem endless.
Printers are using innovative media products for digital imaging to create portable trade-show displays, including pop-up stands, roll-ups, backlit graphics, and hanging signs, as well as directional signage and aisle markers. By simply investing in new imaging substrates, it is possible for screen printers to create high-quality, effective trade-show graphics with digital imaging. This article will examine the many considerations in selecting media for a variety of tradeshow signage and graphics applications.
Producing portable trade-show graphics
The adoption of wide-format inkjet printing for portable trade-show graphics, in particular, has resulted from the flexibility and affordability provided by digital imaging for short runs (Figure 1). Wide-format printers provide the ability to produce one-of-a-kind graphics and alter different portions/pieces of an exhibit based on various factors, including regional or trade-specific focuses.
As screen-printing professionals expand into the realm of producing one-off or short-run trade-show displays, they must keep in mind environmental factors, such as bright lighting and durability requirements, as well as the need to convey messages and attract exhibitors on the fast-paced show floor, where there are only a matter of seconds to make your mark. Add to that the plethora of new and improved combinations of inks, media, hardware, and software that have pushed the quality of wide-format, photorealistic graphics to a new level. Today, photorealistic images—those that contain continuous tone and color consistency, seamless gradients, and no visible dots—are getting bigger and better.
One of the major technological advancements in this arena is the availability of a range of media in assorted weights, textures, and finishes—all of which can affect how the final image looks and feels. Although it may seem like a daunting task, choosing the right media is critical to producing effective trade-show graphics that meet requirements for image quality and durability. While each substrate option has varying qualities, there are a few common characteristics to always consider when producing portable exhibition graphics:
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