Making a stand
Using graphics on walls, windows and floors can be an effective alternative to more traditional promotional signage, especially when businesses want to make a statement.
From following market trends and keeping abreast of customer requirements, materials manufacturers continue to develop products that perform to a higher standard.
“To an extent our products are always a reflection of what the market requires, and therefore, developments are driven by consumer demand and feedback,” says Paul French, chief executive officer of digital materials manufacturer, Metamark, adding:
However, innovation sometimes takes the lead and creates media and materials that forge a new path and create a market space of their own”
French, continues: “We were not being asked for printable etch effect films, for example, when we decided to make them available. Suddenly, a new area of application opens and customers everywhere are securing new business as a consequence of that.”
Metamark says the Etch Glass Effect vinyl and Forest vinyl offer a high quality, cost effective replacement for window manifestation, and can replicate traditional acid etching or sandblasting.
Using a range of Metamark materials, Swansea-based Hansign Custom Graphics recently completed a project that highlights what is possible for a sign-makers to produce with the tools and materials on the market, and the skills they already obtain.
Hansign was called in to advise re-branding tactics for what is now known as the Pure Salon and Spa in Swansea. The sign-maker produced the replacement graphics and decorations, using Metamark materials for the entire fit.
Many metres of Metamark Crystal Etch Effect film were cut, weeded and then carefully applied to the waiting acrylic panels. The salon’s walls were treated to a covering of Metamark MD-TX WallTex, a print receptive self-adhesive woven material that has been designed to be as easy to print and handle as vinyl.
Many metres of Metamark Crystal Etch Effect film were cut, weeded, and then carefully applied to the waiting acrylic panels
Manufacturers are continually looking for improvements that can be applied to an overarching goal of making materials perform to higher standards, yet these products must remain easy to use.
“A good example of this is bringing the benefits of our Apex class adhesives to our MetaScape materials ranges,” explains Metamark’s Paul French.
“This makes those materials not only easy to apply, but ensures they will remove cleanly, even after prolonged periods of use,” he adds.
The MetaScape adhesive system provides air with an exit route from under the graphic, aiming to make larger graphics easier and faster to apply. The manufacturer says the adhesive is suitable for a dry application method, resulting in a durable graphic much sooner after installation.
With markets changing and retail advertising taking priority in hard economic times, high street retailers are looking for window graphics to be vibrant, cost effective and quickly interchangeable.
Finishing solutions and display materials specialist, Drytac, has had to evolve to meet the demand from sign-makers entering the alternative graphics sector.
“Window graphics are one of the strongest growth areas that we have invested in,” comments Drytac Europe sales director, Steve Broad.
He adds: “Our window film product, WindowTac, has been on the market for a number of years now, and this has been very successful.
The film has a permanent adhesive one side and an easy to apply removable air release adhesive on the other side”
“It is very much like a standard mount film with the two sides of adhesive allowing a printed substrate to be applied to the front of the print,” he explains.
Once the gridded liner is removed, the clear adhesive can be applied to the inside of a window facing out.
In-line with product evolution throughout the alternative graphics sector, Drytac has now taken the WindowTac standard product and developed ViziPrint.
“This uses a clear air release adhesive on a high quality polyester for high-end clarity window graphics, and we have produced a direct printable version for UV printers that is even easier to apply,” says Broad.
The materials supplier says ViziPrint’s design reflects the demand for easy, quick and dry application, and claims the adhesive does not bubble or corner-peel overtime. It is also re-positionable, leaving no residue.
Broad adds: “The success of ViziPrint in the UK and Europe, as well as America, has really changed how Drytac view window adhesives. We have now produced and are ready to launch a cost effective version with an ink receptive coating for Eco, full solvent and Latex Printers. We think this will be a success due to the ease of printing, cost and ease of application and removal.”
Off the wall
Drytac’s window film product, WindowTac, has been on the market for a number of years now, and has proven to be a substantial growth area for the firm
Wall graphics are typically used in the retail sector, where promotional campaigns can last from as little as a few weeks to several months, and are replaced by in-store staff. Therefore, simplified solutions are essential.
Rene Bourgeois, international account manager at Fujifilm, says: “Our thinking behind developing self-adhesive graphics was so application is fast, clean and simple. The Euromedia Smooth Wall Sticky, a 100 percent PVC-free wallpaper, has a self-adhesive reverse side and can be removed ‘dry’ for up to four weeks after application.”
According to Bourgeois, Fujifilm has also seen a substantial rise in demand for interior materials recently: “Businesses are looking for anything that can give them an individual style, so they stand out from the crowd, whether this is a textile or a wall paper, this is a strong trend that we think will continue to grow in the coming months, and so further material developments in this area are inevitable.”
Euromedia’s flexible, printable textile, FlowTex, can be used with lightboxes and frame systems. Bourgeois says the material’s special coating is totally resistant to creasing: “FlowTex can also be folded and easily transported, saving on packaging and carriage charges.”
In-keeping with this requirement, Fujifilm’s DecoFrame offers a picture and frame in one.
“The lightweight frame can be assembled very quickly, even by inexperienced users, and no tools are required,” explains Bourgeois, adding: “The flat sheets of the DecoFrame also make it a space-saver.
“Response to this product line has been very good, which is clearly due to the easy handling and the price.
Simplified materials is a demand driven development, and this will continue to evolve in the coming months”
Wall graphics are also in development at Drytac, where new targeted products are beginning to emerge.
Broad continues: “We are close to launching an outdoor a wall vinyl. This line will be suitable for most outdoor print technologies by combining a very strong bonding adhesive it can be applied to brick and many other difficult building materials, hopefully offering another alternative graphic advertising solution.”
On the market
HP Satin Canvas for photographic and fine art reproductions; HP White Satin Poster Paper to produce menus, and HP Light Textile Display Banner for curtains and tablecloths, were also used in the Coffee House re-brand project
In addition to these new developments, a host of easy to use print technologies are currently available to sign-makers looking to tap into the alternative graphics market.
A rebrand assignment on the Afryka Coffee and Tea House in Wroclaw, Poland, which saw all the interior graphics produced on HP Latex machines, highlights what can be achieved on user-friendly and efficient equipment.
The project required giving the coffee shop a new look, including walls, floors, ceilings, and furnishings. The African-themed graphics were printed on the HP Designjet L26500 Printer.
Materials distributor, Integart, produced the graphics for the project. Malgorzata Jarosz, project manager at Integart, says: “HP PVC-free Wall Paper had great characteristics to fulfil the brief. We printed about 121m2 of ceiling and wall coverings in 30 hours. Image quality is high and it is easy to apply.”
Integart created textile decorations using Neschen SolvoTex Theatre 310 Plus media.
“The profile for the textile was programmed in the HP Designjet L26500 Printer. This means the printer optimises output for the material, quickly giving us the best image quality we needed for the project,” explains Jarosz.
Walk on by
Euromedia’s FlowTex can also be folded and easily transported, saving on packaging charges
Floor graphics have changed considerably in recent years, due to heath and safety regulation in public areas and work places.
“Companies installing these graphics need to know that the days of applying just a normal self adhesive printable vinyl to floor with a scuff resistant over laminate have gone,” says Drytac’s Steve Broad.
Drytac has developed a printable floor vinyl for UV, eco/full and now latex print technologies. This, the company says, has a special formulated high tack adhesive that does not lift.
Broad adds: “Our Drytac Emerytex over laminate is a scuff resistant product that has passed all the anti-slip testing to gain a certificate for insurance. Combined with the printable adhesive, it is a matched component giving retailers and installers confidence of performance.”
Fujifilm has also introduced a full range of floor graphics. The company claim that by combining MonoVinyl removable with Floor Graphics Laminate, smooth indoor surfaces will be anti-slip certified for up to three month. For rough outdoor surfaces, Street Vinyl and Street Laminate are available, which Fujifilm say can be applied starting at ground temperatures of 10°C and lasts up to six month.
“With the Euromedia Street Vinyl and Street Laminate we have introduced a floor graphic media for rough surfaces which is very successful at events of all kinds. The combination of both indoor and outdoor floor graphics for a campaign is very attractive. In the case of a supermarket, you catch the customer at the car park and guide him right to the product,” says Fujifilm’s Bourgeois.
In response to market trends and customer needs, manufacturers have developed simplified products without compromising on quality. The versatility of these materials, and what they can create, are attracting businesses from around the world, providing endless opportunities for sign-makers to expand their offering, increase market share and create new revenue streams.