Advancements in Substrates
Substrates are constantly being created and upgraded, offering PSPs untold opportunities to create new items to attract and please their client base while increasing the bottom line. One of the most common substrates in this arena is fabric. One should be aware that the types and styles of fabric use to create trade show and exhibit products has grown by leaps and bounds, particularly over the last several years.
“There are a lot of new fabrics that are coming out,” says Schopmeyer. “[A lot of suppliers] have people out there who are just really hunting and they are always coming up with new fabrics with different feels and textures. Sometimes when you say fabric people think of cotton t-shirt type of thing but there are a lot of interesting fabrics out there that have a shimmer to them when you dye sub onto them. There’s quite a wide variety of product to offer a customer.
“A lot of the stuff is starting to come down now to where you can touch it at trade show booths. For a while most of it was on hanging structures but now they’re starting to make walls out of it and cover the entire thing in fabric.”
Naturally, durability is a factor, particularly if people are going to be handling materials that were once hung from the ceiling. Schopmeyer says there are no worries about how the items will hold up. “You can throw them into a washing machine and put them into a dryer on delicate and usually that takes care of any problems that you’ve got. It’s hard to do that with traditional banner type things and rigid substrates.
“The big thing with the fabric is that it is so lightweight. One of my selling points when I have people in here is that if they buy something as simple as a 10x10-foot pop up from me with fabric and something were to happen I literally could wad a 10x10-foot backdrop in a FedEx overnight box and send it to them and within 30 minutes when they put it back on the hardware, the wrinkles will pretty much just fall right out of it.”
Cost effectiveness is always an issue and it is always contingent on the type of fabric used. “You need to lead your customer down the right road. Know your fabrics out there. There are a lot of green materials coming out,” says Schopmeyer.
Current and Future Trends
Much like the larger visual communication industry, the exhibit and trade show signage market will be affected by industry trends. UV inkjet printers, 3D printers, digital signage, and concerns about sustainability will make an impact on the types of products used and produced.
“In the near-term, we will see the continued improvement of the UV based inkjet printers,” says Polan. “Through increase and efficiency, quality and versatility, these devices will continue to further move screen printing, lithography and photo production into obsolescence. Over the longer term future we will see continued slimming down of physical width and cost of production of digital signage. This will allow retail stores to move toward full digitization of their environmental graphics. We also do 3D printing of physical products playing a greater role in packaging and visual production.”
“More green materials are going to be a big bonus going forward,” says Schopmeyer. “I think that’s what’s going to happen with the technology as more and more people are demanding more green materials. The manufacturing process will come down. The price points are starting to come down on that and it has to do with the manufacturers being able to predict how much of that is going to be utilized. As we ask more and more for it, the prices are going to start to drop on that.”