If your shop is new to wide-format inkjet printing, it’s helpful to know the many different ways flexible vinyl, polypropylene, and fabric banners can be converted into ready-to-use display graphics.
The type of equipment and supplies used will depend on the size of the banner, how the banner will be displayed, where it will be displayed, and how long it will be displayed. For example, the materials used to hang temporary, indoor event banners don’t need the same strength and durability as the processes used to make multi-panel ready-to-hang outdoor banners that must withstand damaging winds.
Banner designers should know in advance how the banner will be finished, so they avoid placing important text or design elements in areas of the banner that will be grommeted or stitched.
Banner Welding Equipment. These devices fuse two layers of PVC or polypropylene banner material together without the use of tape of chemicals. Hot-air banner welders create the fusion by heating two pressed-together layers to the melting point. RF welding equipment uses high frequency electromagnetic energy to join the two layers.
Banner welding joins multiple panels together to create one giant banner or hem the edges of the banner for strength and durability. If the banner will be displayed on poles, a “pole pocket” can be created by leaving a gap between the sealed portion of the hem and the edge of the banner. The poles are then inserted into the gap.
Banner welding equipment can also be used to join PVC-coated fabrics to make awnings, tents, inflatables, and tarps. Leading manufacturers of different sizes and types of banner welding equipment include Miller Weldmaster and Leister Technologies.
Grommet Press. Available in manual or automatic models, a grommet press is used to make metal-ringed holes in the corners and outer edges of banners. The holes enable the banner to be hung with cords, twine, rope, zip ties, bungee cords, fence clips, or S banner hooks.
The two-part metal ring that keeps the hole round and open is called grommet. The front-facing side of the grommet has a raised metal strip that fits into the recessed groove in the back-side “washer” piece. The grommet press joins the grommet piece placed on the front of the banner to the piece on the back of the banner by squeezing them together. The pressing process punches out the banner material in the center of the ring. The grommets keep the punched holes from tearing when the banner is stretched or exposed to high winds.
Industrial Sewing Equipment. These machines are used to hem banners made from polyester or other textiles. Grommets can be punched through the hems of the banners. Or, “pole-pocket” hems can be sewn to accommodate the insertion of poles that can be used to hang the banner.
Some industrial sewing machines are used to add strips of silicone edging (keder) that will be inserted into the grooves of display frames built specifically for silicone-edged fabrics. The display frames keep the fabric taut and wrinkle-free.
Industrial sewing machines for silicone-edge graphics include Impulsa Synchromatic Plus Atas; Singer 300W205; and SK Highlead GC-0618-B-SEG. Miller Weldmaster’s Digitran finishing equipment is equipped with both welding equipment for vinyl banners and sewing equipment for fabric banners.
Banner Display Hardware
Banner Hanging Rails. Available in different widths and decorative finishes, banner hanging rails clip on the top edges of banners printed on thin flexible substrates such as polypropylene or display films.
Pole Banner Systems. These kits are designed to mount banners either to walls or streetside poles, such a light poles. Dowels inserted through pole-pocket hems at the top and bottom edges of a banner keep the graphics taut and readable even in windy conditions.
Stretch Banner Frames. The decorative frames are designed to keep grommeted banners stretched taut. Some frames keep the grommets hidden from view.
X-Banner Stands. These lightweight, free-standing, pop-up display systems are designed to hold banners that have grommets in each corner.
Banner Fence Clips. A variety of clips are available to securely fasten grommeted banners to chain link fences.
SEG Frames. These free-standing or wall-mounted framing systems are designed specifically to hold silicone-edge fabric banners. Some print-service providers purchase standard-sized frames; other print shops fabricate SEG frames to meet whatever size a customer may request. Many SEG frames can be edge lit or backlit with static or dynamic LED lighting. The dynamic LED lighting can be programmed to light up different sections of a printed graphic to create the look of motion.
Teardrop Flag Stands. These eye-catching, free-standing display systems enable colorful, vertical fabric banners to flap in the breeze. The banners are hemmed on all sides, with a pole pocket on the side where the banner stand hardware will be inserted.
Banner Finishing Supplies
Some innovative banner finishing supplies have been developed to meet the full range of indoor and outdoor conditions in which vinyl and fabric banners will be displayed.
Banner Tape. Double-sided banner tape can be used to hem or seam vinyl banners without the use of banner-welding equipment. Single-sided banner tape can reinforce the edges of a banner that will be stitched. Banner tape is best for smaller indoor banners and short-term outdoor event banners.
Fabric Tape. This double-sided tape has an adhesive designed to join banner fabrics together to form hems or seams. It can be used on small banners in shops that aren’t equipped with industrial sewing equipment.
Grommets. These two-piece snap-together metal, plastic, or rubber rings are available in a variety of sizes, colors, and finishes. Metal grommets are popular for vinyl banners because their sharp edges create a hole in the banner material when the grommet pieces are pressed together. Metal grommets are available in black, white, nickel silver, brass, gold, red, and other popular colors. Clear plastic grommets allow the banner colors to show through.
Adhesive Grommet Tabs. Shops without a grommet press can use adhesive grommet tabs to hang banners. The plastic grommet tab adheres to both sides of a banner corner. The cord used to hang the banner can be inserted through a plastic loop attached to the tab or through a hole punched through the grommet tab and banner.
Hook-and-Loop Fasteners. Fasteners such as Velcro® can be used to hang smaller, temporary lighter weight banners on walls that can’t hold grommeted banners.
Keder. This is the strip of silicone gasket material sewn to the edges of fabric banners that will be inserted in SEG (silicone edge graphics) frames.
Keder Tape. This specialty product from BannerUps enables shops to make fabrics graphics for SEG frames without investing in a sewing machine and training people to run it.
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Ongoing changes in printing and finishing processes affect how printed materials are produced and estimated. This series of print-business glossaries can help you make sense of the changing competitive landscape for printing services. Follow Ordant on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to learn when the next post in this glossary series is published.
Print Business Glossary: Laminators and Laminating Films
Print Business Glossary: Post-Press Coatings and Coating Equipment
Print Business Glossary: Automated Wide-Format Graphics Cutters
Print Business Glossary: Finishing Equipment for Offset Presses
Print Business Glossary: Emerging and Niche Print Processes