When it comes to advertising, sign makers have plenty of options. However, one choice seems to be “attracting” more attention. The cost effectiveness to easily change and update ads with magnetic media has lead to a surge in the market.
“With regard to the printing industry, there are really two main categories of magnetic media—magnet and magnet-receptive,” explained Jodi Haugen, Xcel Products Inc. “The difference is that the first is magnetized and the second bonds to a magnet.”
There are several variables that can determine if magnet or magnetic-receptive should be used. The environment in which the graphics will be installed, the intended surface of application, and frequency of changeability are crucial for a successful install.
First, the customer needs to have a good understanding of how the magnet will be used. “Knowing how it will be used, the size and shape desired, how it will be printed, and what environment it will be exposed will help ensure that the proper magnet is selected for the application,” said Joe Stout, director of marketing and product development, Magnum Magnetics Corp.
Another option is magnetic sheets. “Images are printed on adhesive-backed vinyl and mounted to a very thin magnetic backer,” said Leah Bruhn, manager, brand strategy and communication, ACCO Brands. “The images can be rolled and shipped to be installed by store associates.”
It is important to know exactly where the images will be placed. “A metal surface has to be in place or one will have to be installed,” she said. “Magnetic-backed material is great choice for images that will be changed or updated often because the store personnel can do it themselves.”
Knowing the correct application also helps determine what precautionary means need to be taken.
One of the most popular applications is a car sign, however, certain restrictions do apply. “Magnetic media is suitable for road vehicles, but for safety reasons, must only be used on clean, flat surfaces without trapping any dirt or dust particles between the vehicle panels and the magnetic,” warned Martin Kugler, communications director, Hexis USA. Hexis produces a data sheet with a laundry list of precautions, including: do not use on the engine hood; remove at least once a week, clean, and re-apply to a slight off-set area; remove the magnet from the vehicle if the temperature exceeds 86°F in the shade.
Though direct digital printing (DDP) has made life easier, pre-testing is another highly recommended precaution. “Our products are all DDP capable,” said John C. Kanis, vice president and general manager, MagX America, Inc. “There is no need to print on vinyl and then laminate, which is expensive as well as time consuming.” Kanis recommends pre-testing all inks before doing a production run when using digital imaging and says MagX has a link on its website with tips for users.
“Making a small sample for the customer can avoid a lot of problems and confusion,” added Emily Conklin, marketing communications specialist, Drytac Corp.. “Users need to understand the application and use the correct self-adhesive magnetic material as a receptor surface.”
Up to the Challenge
Sometimes just the mention of magnetic media is enough to scare away some clients. It sounds complicated and there are concerns about how to print on magnets. The manufacturers have addressed these issues and, while admitting there are some challenges, say there is nothing to fear.
“For magnetic media the challenges are balancing magnetic strength and weight,” said Bruhn. “The stronger the magnetic force, the heavier the magnet.”
“Printing on magnet can be tricky depending on the type of printer. Be sure to check the print head adjustment to accommodate the different thicknesses. Also, it’s important to be aware that magnetic material will usually be heavier than most printing substrates and you should make any necessary adjustments to ensure the consistent tension and flow of the magnetic sheeting through the printer,” said Melissa Thompson, sales manager, flexible magnetic products, Master Magnetics Inc.