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Tips for Producing Portable Trade-Show Graphics

(December 2007) posted on Wed Dec 05, 2007

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.

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By Ed McCarron

Matte or lustre finishes are preferred in this environment, because trade-show graphics are exposed to bright lighting and therefore susceptible to glare. Matte and lustre finishes maximize the visibility of the message from all angles under bright lighting (Figure 2). An additional way to refract lighting is to use a textured laminate over the graphic.

Fire-resistant or fire-retardant materials are often required by law for graphics in many venues. Prior to producing graphics you should ensure that the materials you choose meet the trade show’s requirements.

Rigidity is an important component for choosing media for trade-show graphics, because printed media are typically mounted to the framework after applying stiffeners to both the top and bottom of each panel. Appropriate rigidity ensures that graphics display properly and can be rolled for easy transport.

Opacity is an important factor to consider when producing trade-show graphics, because these applications are exposed to bright lighting. Applying a suitable backer prevents light from shining through the panels.

Proper thickness is critical to ensuring that a panel construction is both heavy enough to stand firm in the stand framing and durable/protected enough to be rolled up, shipped, and reused for multiple trade shows. Final construction of flexible panels should target a composition of 20 mils thick.

In the case of portable trade-show graphics, there are several common applications listed below, along with advice on how you can most effectively produce high-quality graphics.


Portable trade-show booths/pop-up stands

The final construction of graphic panels for portable trade-show booths generally consists of an opaque backing layer, imaging layer, and textured laminate. As mentioned earlier, you should target a total material composition of 20 mils thick. Portable trade-show booths can be completed in one of three ways.

Inkjet-receptive paper or film encapsulated between an adhesive backer and textured laminate is the oldest method. Today, most graphics houses have switched to the other two methods described below, because fewer materials and steps are required. Paper, in particular, as an image layer is weak, because workers can easily crack an edge or corner during the packing process.

Reverse printing on inkjet-compatible polycarbonate and laminate with opaque backer is another option. It works best with dye-based inks. Dyes penetrate the image coating very well and rest against the film surface, thereby allowing for vivid colors when reverse printed and viewed through the film.


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