Part 2: Fabric Covers, Graphics, and Printing
When you are in the process of purchasing a new tensioned fabric sign, be sure to pay attention to these important details regarding tensioned fabric covers and printed graphics.
The Art of the Tensioned Fabric Cover
The fabric cover is central to forming a visitor’s first impression of your exhibit. While an inferior frame may be camouflaged by the fabric cover, the cover itself is out in the open for all to see.
A well-made tensioned fabric sign will have a precisely calibrated tension across its surface — about one pound per linear inch along the outside edges—ensuring that the fabric surface is neither too tight nor too loose. Getting this tensioning right is critical. Even a fraction of an inch error can have a considerably negative impact on the professionalism of your sign.
Gauge the quality of a tensioned fabric cover by checking these details:
- A Good Fit – Is the sign surface smooth but not too tight? Is it easy to close the zippers or insert the SEG into the channels?
- Assembly Time – How easily does the cover or cover section install?
- Fabric Type – Does your fabric cover look sheer, translucent, rear-illuminated, or opaque? Using the right fabric is important in creating the cover type that will best communicate your message.
- Opaque Liner – Does your sign have an opaque liner? An opaque liner will make your cover appear more substantial, and your graphics will pop.
- Seam and Zipper Placement – Seams and zippers should be located where they will have minimal impact on the finished sign. Avoid placing seams through key graphics details such as faces and text. Zippers can be placed along the sign’s top edges, or wherever they will not be visible when the sign is installed.
The Art of Tensioned Fabric Printing and Graphics
Trade show signs are about communication, and for your graphics to make a positive impact, you want a smooth, taut fabric surface and a sturdy frame structure. The frame and fabric cover are ultimately just a platform for your graphics.
Critical issues to achieving high quality graphics on your tensioned fabric sign include:
- Print Technology – Quality fabric signs are currently printed using dye-sublimation technology. This method produces bright colors and sharp images, and the fabric remains soft and pliable. Dye-sublimation printing permits laundering of the fabric cover. Experience has taught us that dye-sublimation printing on foldable, washable, 100% polyester, IFR fabrics, delivers the best results.
- Pre-press Preparation – Every printer outputs colors slightly differently than another. Pre-press adjustments to the image files are important to getting your images to print accurately. Request a press proof to assure that your files will be printed as you expect. Tectonics will always deliver a press proof to our clients.
- Image Quality – File resolution is not the only factor in attaining premium quality graphics. Because of differences in printing facility climate conditions or equipment operation, two printers using the same equipment and the same graphics file can have wildly divergent results. Experienced printers work to match colors accurately and to maintain consistent color output across multiple projects. Tectonics print operators have 325 years of combined experience, and undergo hundreds of training hours annually to ensure unmatched capability and color consistency.
- Image Placement – Request a graphics layout that shows the size of key text elements and distances to the sign edges, so you can make sure that your graphics are output to the correct size and are precisely positioned on the fabric surface.
When your tensioned fabric sign is complete, your graphics should be bright and intense, with accurate colors and sharp edges. When you get the frame, cover, and graphics stages of production right, you are well on your way to having a high-performance tensioned fabric sign.
Contact us to see how we can help with your tensioned fabric sign.