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In today’s market there is an outstanding range of products available to the sign maker, and manufacturers and resellers have never been busier working together with customers to develop ever more innovative and flexible solutions that continue to push out the boundaries of what is possible. However, all this development means that while the sign maker’s armoury has never been stronger – in terms of both hardware and substrates - it takes careful planning and a firm business strategy and focus to ensure they can make the most of all the opportunities now open to them.
Making the most of substrates in the market today must be about utilising this media more effectively and efficiently; using prepress technologies to assist in the smart bundling of jobs to minimise waste, and fitting the job to the right substrate. For example, if it’s a banner for a short term advertising campaign, having the option of not using a substrate with a five year life span, just because you have it.
To provide sign makers with ultimate flexibility in this regard, a few years ago we introduced ‘media by the metre’ to our customers, meaning sign makers can order as little as a metre of substrate if they have a small job that requires a very specific substrate. The response from our customers to this initiative has always been very positive, as it allows them to take on any job they can, safe in the knowledge they don’t have to purchase a whole roll (and tie up valuable cash flow and resources) just to undertake a single job.
Using this principle, we would recommend sign makers keep their base range simple and top it up where applicable with small units of media for jobs that fall outside this spectrum.
These days the overwhelming majority of non-board work is on Self Adhesive Vinyl (SAV). So, we would advise using one product that will cover the vast majority of applications such as a gloss white polymeric, a clear solvent acrylic adhesive and a good quality Kraft release liner. Clear solvent acrylic adhesives are suitable for 99% of applications and means you do not have to worry about wet, cold or external applications. By using a clear adhesive, this one product can also be used on windows as well as the usual substrates such as foam PVC and painted metal. The polymeric PVC face film has good resistance to weathering and shrinkage and the unprinted film is warranted for up to seven years. The polymeric SAV in our range that fits this bill is LD3920G from LG Hausys which is an outstanding product, has been used for many years in the UK and comes at a very competitive price.
In terms of banners, if the sign writer is looking for one broader performer, I would recommend a coated scrim banner, over 500gsm in weight, which has been formally fire rated. This coating process, although more expensive than the laminated banner process, ensures both higher print quality and resilient hanging characteristics and tends to be combined with a better scrim that can be used in more extreme locations such as ‘across the street’ applications. A laminated banner tends not to have the tear resistance for these applications where wind shear is a factor. The fire rating of banners is important as they are used in a wide variety of locations so we would recommend a banner vinyl such as our SFC550M which is a 550gsm coated smooth matt scrim high strength PVC banner that has been fire rated to BS5687.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for sign makers to recognise that, whether they are just considering what substrate to use for the next job, or they are planning their business strategy for the coming year, they are not alone and should seek the assistance of their supplier partners in these decisions. Good manufacturers and resellers are desperate to work closer in partnership with their customers to understand how their products are being used and performing on a day to day basis in the field, and this gives the sign maker access to a wealth of information, advice and market intelligence.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that in order to get more out of your substrates you have to get more out of your business, and this is where companies like APS can play a key advisory role for sign makers. In the end, the stronger the relationship between manufacturer, supplier, sign maker and end customer the better and more versatile the product will be and the more successful the overall industry will become.