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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Large Format Printing: Options for Backwall Exhibits

I can’t help but think of movie “standees” when I see a “backwall” display at a tradeshow. These large format print products are most often composed of a stretch fabric that has been printed using dye sublimation technology and then stretched over a collapsible aluminum frame.

Some of these exhibits look just like printed fabric walls, in that the fabric is stretched across (and completely obscures) the lattice of black or silver aluminum supports underneath the graphic.

Other displays of this sort showcase the geometric patterns and futuristic look of the frames by leaving portions of the aluminum struts visible to passersby. These also allow you to hang, or stretch, difference large format print graphics across different portions of the metal structure to create a “modular” design effect.

Still other displays are composed of multiple retractable banner stands placed side by side, creating one overall image.

In all cases, the goal is to present a powerful graphic image that captures the look and feel of your business, like an indoor billboard, and brings passersby into your tradeshow booth.

Options for the Display and Its Surroundings

A large percentage of rented spaces at tradeshows provide room for a ten-foot backwall exhibit. These convention venues also have width and height requirements to allow visibility to adjacent booths.

Other display spaces are much larger, and the backwalls can be augmented by adding additional units. You can even add tables, podiums, printed floor graphics, or a tower display. Some of the larger units even have multiple rooms (product demonstration rooms and rooms with theater seating for presentations), hook-ups for large format digital signage, or even a bridge coming off the front of the display wall (to create a more three-dimensional, immersive experience). The larger backwalls truly are environments as well as signage, although the graphic presentation is always the most important element in order to present the company’s brand image.

Adding Sound Effects and Light to the Environment

Many of these backwalls are curved. This contains the space visually but also acts to focus the sound within the booth, improving acoustics and making presentations easier to hear over the din of the convention center.

Marketers can also enhance the visual effect by adding LED lighting to the top of the backwall, thus showcasing the large format print graphics.

Portability of the Display Is Essential

The life of a trade show participant is an itinerant one, so being able to pack up the exhibit and transport it by air freight to the next staging location is of paramount importance. In all cases, these structures come apart into the graphic elements and the geometric frames. The frames are light and collapsible, and the images and frames can fit in hard plastic transport cases, which can be wrapped with graphic panels to double as podiums. The cases are durable and have wheels. Simplicity is key, since a display product has to make a quick change from a dramatic environment to a collection of easily moved boxes that will withstand abuse until the next presentation.

Designing Backwall Graphics

The best thing I can suggest is that you study photos of backwalls in Google Images to get an overview of your options. Some are large and wide, providing one uninterrupted image space. Others have wrap-around sections that might be ideal for alternate graphics or text. Still others provide a modular design incorporating multiple smaller images. Depending on the fabric used (cotton or polyester), you can decide whether to use inkjet technology or dye sublimation in your large format print graphic presentation.

Consider the overall look you’re trying to achieve, and make smaller mock-ups of the physical space (like an architect’s scale model). This will help you determine the best set up and structure for your backwall display as well as the most efficient placement of such elements as product literature tables, podiums, spotlights, digital signage panels, and such.

Above all else, remember that this is a product in physical space. Consider how participants will travel through the space to make sure your tables do not block either the people or the graphics.

Many firms deal specifically with this kind of large format print display work, and they are well equipped to provide experience and knowledge to help you achieve your goals.

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