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Soft Signage

A staple part of production for many sign-making businesses, Rob Fletcher takes a closer look at some of the latest developments in the busy and booming soft signage sector

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Wave your flag

Soft signage is arguably one of the most diversified areas of the sign and graphics industry, with companies active in this segment producing a wide range of applications for clients in all sorts of markets.

From flags fluttering high above buildings, to giant banners adorning the side of buildings, the amount of work on offer in this area explains why it is so popular among sign-makers of all shapes and sizes.

This does, however, mean that competition for work is incredibly fierce and it is critical that sign-makers differentiate themselves in order to stand out. Here, we look at how the latest technological and material developments can help businesses gain an advantage in this busy segment.

Growing demand

First up, HP has a range of printer options on offer to those sign-makers that are already established in the soft signage market, as well as those looking to move into the sector and access the many opportunities available, particularly within the interior décor segment.

“The decorative print market is growing rapidly as homeowners and businesses look to enhance and customise their homes, workplaces, and brands,” HP says, adding: “Whether for a teenager’s bedroom, an office creative space, or a hotel lobby, today’s generation is gravitating toward solutions that offer adaptable, personalised services and environmentally responsible products.

“The growth in demand for printed décor presents an exciting market opportunity. Thanks to digital printing, you can provide the level of flexibility and customisation customers in this high-margin sector require.”

Within HP’s portfolio of solutions is the HP Stitch range, including the S300, S500 and S1000 models. The HP Stitch S300 64” printer has a maximum production speed of 34sq m/hr and top production quality speed of 22sq m/hr, while the HP Stitch S500 64” model can run at a top speed of 110sq m/hr and 43sq m/hr in quality mode.

O Factoid: The HP Stitch S1000 dye-sublimation printer has a top production speed of 220sq m/hr O

The HP Stitch S1000 is the largest option in the range, measuring in at 126” wide with a 10l cartridge size. The machine has a top speed of 220sq m/hr and 130sq m/hr in quality mode, which HP says opens up all sorts of projects for users.

The HP Stitch S1000 can print in high quality in speeds of up to 130sq m/hr

“HP Stitch dye-sub printers offer vibrant and accurate colours across the fleet,” HP says, adding: “They are ideal for large-format textile printing and allow applications such as curtains, cushions and upholstery,”

Launched in May 2021, the HP Stitch S1000 measures in at 126” wide and has a 10l cartridge

Aside from the print hardware, it is critical for sign-makers to consider the materials they are working with in this market. HP recognises this and offers a wide range of media for use in soft signage work.

“To achieve extraordinary results, it’s essential to pair the right media and printing technology,” HP says, adding: “That’s why HP offers a wide range of media that is designed and tested to work in sync with HP printing technologies. And with more than 2,000 media profiles available, you can get vibrant and accurate colours across your interior decoration jobs in just a few clicks.”

HP adds that sign-makers should also consider the rising demand for more sustainable and planet-friendly work in the soft signage market. For the green-minded businesses and their clients, HP recommends its HP Latex inks, which, as a water-based technology, is a more sustainable option than other methods.

“Water-based HP Latex inks offer an attractive environmental and health profile to both print-service-providers and their customers,” HP explains, adding: “With credentials addressing criteria related to human health and environmental considerations, HP Latex Inks produce odourless prints that are ideal for interior spaces, such as hotels, restaurants, hospitals, or homes.”

Profitable market

Elsewhere and specialist wide-format print solutions provider CMYUK has a host of printer and materials options available to those looking to strengthen their soft signage offering. Robin East, commercial director at CMYUK, says soft signage can be a very profitable business for companies that get it right when it comes to the type of kit they have in place.