Cutting and trimming: Always cut through the softer material first, when applicable. Use a sharp blade, trim the graphics with a straight edge at a 90-degree angle on tempered glass or a similar surface, and score the material instead of trying to slice through it in one pass. Self-healing mats and other softer surfaces will compromise the bond between the laminate and the print.
Rolling graphics: Always roll the graphics with the thinnest material facing out. For instance, when using a 7 mil display film with a 15-mil laminate, the display film should be on the outside as the graphic is being rolled up for shipment. When both materials are the same thickness, always roll them the same way every time, and don’t roll them in the reverse direction to make them lay flat. Also, roll the graphics at a minimum 12-inch diameter. Make sure to provide the customer with simple rolling and packaging instructions.
Sledding: Use a sled when you laminate. A sled—which should be made of a hard substrate such as Masonite, acrylic, or aluminum—helps ensure even pressure across the web. Apply a release liner to the sled to prevent adhesive build-up. The release liner will allow you to easily clean off the adhesive.
Eliminating curl: If you’re having a problem with curling when you apply pressure-sensitive laminates and backers, either reduce the speed of your take-up reel or put less pressure on the rollers.
Printing on film: The best material choice for rollable trade show graphics is an inkjet film, such as polycarbonate, polyester, or polypropylene. Fibrous paper tends to split, tear, and curl.
Ultimately, anyone who provides graphics for trade shows, meetings and conferences should be solutions-oriented. That may sound cliché, but driving new and repeat business requires more than simply fulfilling the order. It means providing informed consultative services so the customer maximizes their presence at the event.
If, for instance, the customer asks for banner stand graphics, find out why they’re placing the order in the first place. Context is everything, and a solutions-oriented graphics provider will circle back and not only provide the graphics requested, but will look for ways to help their customer draw traffic to their booth or table.
According to Rick Nerenhausen of LexJet, there are a number of questions you should ask the customer about their overall goals and future use of the graphics, including:
- Is your primary goal to sell as much as possible, create brand awareness, or to promote a new product or technology?
- Is your messaging simple? If not, how can it be simplified?
- Will the graphics be re-used for other events? And, can they be repurposed for presentations, meetings, and other venues?
- Would an interactive element, such as a demonstration video, be appropriate and reinforce your messaging?
- How will the graphics be set up in the booth? It’s important that the message can be seen from every possible angle and that the graphics help differentiate your products and services. Plus, you want the booth to be open enough to let people in, but not so open that it seems like no one is in it.
- Can you use your printers to create small peel-and-stick graphics for promotional products such as mugs, candy bar wraps, and so forth?
The point is to promote your expertise and improve your customer’s presence at the event. This can unlock additional opportunities, like adding a backlit display to the mix, but more importantly it establishes you as the go-to source for more than just graphics.