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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: Banner Stands and Table Throws

My print brokering client has branched out. She started with business cards and then a brochure. From there she has extended her order to retractable banner stands and table throws, and she may even need custom screen printing for t-shirts.

To prepare myself for discussions with both my client and various commercial printing vendors, I went to school on the subject. Here is some of what I learned.

Retractable Banner Stands

Consider whether you want fabric or vinyl as a banner substrate for this large format print graphic. The base is a metal container that holds a spring loaded, rolled up vertical banner. The graphic effect is dramatic, and it draws the viewer into the convention booth. These banner stands come in various sizes and work as follows.

You extend the telescoping pole vertically, then pull the graphic out of the base and hang the metal pull tab from the extended pole. Just under the pull tab, a horizontal brace attached to the banner holds the graphic open and taut, while the base gives the graphic dimensional stability from below. This way, the extended banner presents as a tall and narrow rectangle. If you want a larger image, you can set two or more of these side by side with large format print graphics that appear to cross from one banner stand to the other.

These retractable banner stands come with either vinyl banners or polyester banners. From my research online and from speaking to printers, it seems that the polyester banners may have less likelihood of curling at the edges. Curling may be a problem for vinyl banners, so you may wish to do your own research.

The custom printing technique of choice for vinyl banners is inkjet, and for a polyester banner you would use dye sublimation digital printing. Ask your suppliers which would be better for indoor vs. outdoor displays, which will last longer, and which will be less affected by sunlight, fingerprints, etc.

Keep in mind that these are not inexpensive (i.e., several hundred dollars or more), so you will want to protect the banners from degradation and the retractable banner stands from wear and tear in transit. Make sure the banner stand comes with a hard or soft case that can withstand air travel and baggage handlers.

Fortunately, the banners can be removed from the metal display and replaced with new large format print graphics.

One thing to keep in mind as you design such a presentation is that convention goers will be close to the banner stand. Therefore, the resolution of the images needs to be be higher than you might expect. For a poster seen from across the room, slightly lower resolution images are fine, but retractable banner stand images will look fuzzy if seen up close. So keep to the usual 300 dpi rule of thumb (or twice the halftone line screen).

Table Throws

The most interesting thing I learned from a printer with whom I discussed these products was that a customer logo printed on the front might not be seen in a crowded convention. With hoards of people standing in front of the table, the most visible spot for the logo, according to this printer, is the top of the table. He suggests printing the logo on the back of 1/16” plastic sheeting and laying it on top of the table. Of course, branded signage would also need to be set up behind the table for passersby to see as they approach the table.

Another thing to consider is the length of the table. Usually they are either six or eight feet long. Some table throws are even convertible, folding up to fit either table length. This would be useful if you do multiple conventions with different sized tables. However, in most cases the tables will be eight feet long in order to fit in a standard ten-foot convention booth.

Finally, look into inkjet, dye sublimation, and screen printing for your table throw graphic. Screen printing is not cost effective if you’re only printing one table throw, but the inks are vibrant and durable if you can share the cost among three or four table throws.

The other two options, inkjet and dye sublimation, are used for cotton and polyester substrates respectively, although table throws seem more often than not to be made of synthetics.

Also ask for stain-resistant, fire-resistant material, and make sure you can wash the throws without reducing their lifespan.

In short, think of both of these products as investments, and make sure they will last a long time if treated well. Your printer can answer these questions for you, or you can find a large format printer online or through referrals.

Beyond their design and logistical qualities, consider these products to be advertisements for your brand. Just like a business card or a refrigerator magnet, the purpose of table throws and retractable banner stands is to reinforce your company image in the minds of prospective customers.

4 Responses to “Large Format Printing: Banner Stands and Table Throws”

  1. PVC Banners says:

    Yes you are perfectly right.

    Retractable banner stands and table throws are both certainly very good long-term advertising investments. I agree.

    There are many technical things [that] need to be taken care of, which are mentioned [in the article] for an attractive and professional advertising product.

    As I am in the printing industry [for a] long [time], I know about all the facts mentioned in this blog.

    Anyway, overall good post. Keep posting.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your comment and your support. With printing in general in a state of flux, I think that large format printed products (particularly digital signage, packaging, etc.) are actually having a growth spurt.

      Keep reading the blog.

  2. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but
    after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing
    all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say great blog!

    • admin says:

      Sorry about your misfortune. Computers can be frustrating. But I do appreciate your support. Thanks for your comment.


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