Tradeshow Graphics: Fabric Displays

Tradeshow graphics are one of the most important elements of any exhibit. They set the tone and determine how your company will be perceived. You want to select graphics that will not only reinforce your company's brand image, but effectively communicate to your audience what your company or product can do for them. 

You can use graphics to create interest and depth within your exhibit, which makes it more visually stimulating. To amplify your message, tradeshow graphics should have excellent color, clarity, and detail.

Innovations in tradeshow graphics continue to provide better mediums for displaying quality graphics. Fabric has been introduced as a great alternative to traditional visuals.

Today the older styles of inkjet-laminated panels are being replaced with more durable fabric types. Many exhibitors are making the switch to fabric coverings because they offer a number of benefits to the user, including eliminating the possibility of glare or scratched finishes. A softer more elegant look can be achieved with fabric that makes some displays more appealing.

Although the practice of using fabric is still relatively new, there are a couple of ways to have your images printed. Images can be created through a dye sublimation process or a direct printing process.

Dye Sublimation Process: With a dye sublimation process, the ink is permanently bonded to polyester fibers with a heat transfer. Photographic images look more realistic with this form of printing because the colors are not laid down as individual dots, as they are with inkjet printers. However, this process can only be used on polyester fabrics.

Direct Printing: If sharper, more brilliant images are desired, direct printing should be used rather than dye sublimation, which gives a softer, more muted appearance. Direct printing uses a steam process to embed the ink into the fabric -- and can be used on fabrics like silk and cotton.

Fabric graphics eliminate many of the problems that can occur with traditional tradeshow graphics. They are a more durable, lightweight, versatile, and affordable medium for displaying quality color graphics.

Fabric graphics are so durable that they can be stored easily and reused again and again. They can even be machine washed or dry cleaned, depending on the fabric and printing process. These graphics are a great display investment because many are wrinkle, stain, and fade resistant.

The usual concerns that are associated with vinyl graphics are no longer an issue when fabric is chosen. Wrinkles can easily be removed from fabrics with an iron, and there is no need to worry about the substrate cracking as vinyl does with repeated use.

Since fabric graphics are so lightweight, they make transportation, drayage, and storage simple. They can also be folded and packed into compact cases and stored in smaller spaces than those usually required by other types of graphic panels.

Fabric graphics offer more versatility than laminated panels ever could because they:

  • Allow you to capture different moods and looks by varying textures
  • Are available in endless shape and size possibilities
  • Are more lightweight so they can be hung more easily and packed more compactly, saving storage fees as well as transportation and drayage charges.

Fabric is also more suitable for interior displays, whereas vinyl is better for exterior promotions. Vinyl can sometimes appear to look cheap when indoors, while fabric creates a more elegant appearance.

There is also an added element of safety to be aware of when you choose fabric graphics for your exhibit. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has certain regulatory codes for the use of fabric structures at tradeshows and conventions. Be sure that your graphics comply with these regulations and your fabric is made from flame retardant materials.

Fabric visuals can also add movement and elegance to banners, and can even create unique structures with dramatic flair. Design possibilities for tradeshow exhibits are endless when fabric graphics are incorporated.

Although fabric visuals may initially be more expensive than other traditional tradeshow graphics, they are a great investment for exhibitors. The durability makes them worth buying since they offer more repeat use.

This article was written by Elizabeth Catalanotto of Nimlok-Louisiana, a provider of tradeshow display and exhibit solutions.

More on Tradeshow Graphics
How to Choose a Design Firm for Your Display
Tradeshow Lighting

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