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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: Standee Gluing Options

I was on my hands and knees today assembling a standee (large format printed promotional display) for a new movie. It was a simple standee, just a flat card with an easel, but as I was carefully folding the corrugated board that had been spot glued to the back of the flat card to accept the easel backing, I thought about the importance of glue.

On this simple standee, the two banks of tabs that had been spot glued to the back of the board had also been scored to allow for easy folding. The tabs would be inserted into a separate cardboard easel attachment to make the standee stand erect.

As simple as this is, keep in mind that the glue holds the cardboard tightly and allows for folding, but occasionally, in dry weather, or if the spot gluing has not been applied correctly, the joined pieces come apart. In a pinch, several strips of hidden clear tape will make things right. However, even in the best of cases the tape will not hold as well or as long, or as cleanly for that matter, as the spot glue.

Not to belabor the point, but this very same spot glue holds together not only standee easel backs but any two pieces of cardboard that could not be produced with a single piece of cardboard or a single piece of printed litho paper laminated to chipboard. This is the case for attachments to the back of a printed “lug,” for example. Tabs on the backs of these diecut, printed additions are usually inserted into a large format print graphic comprising the front of a standee to give the image a sense of depth and dimension.

In other cases the tabs that fit into slots to hold the standee together are spot glued to other pieces of cardboard. If a particular portion of the standee is bent or curved during installation (to create a large channel letter, like the letter “O” or “R,” for instance), the ability of the glue to adhere to the cardboard and endure stress and movement is of paramount importance. Nothing is quite as frustrating as having a standee glue joint come apart during installation.

How Is the Glue Applied?

This question came to mind so I did a little research, only to find two methods. Spot glue can be applied through a nozzle attached to a hose through which the glue is drawn from a reservoir or container. It can also be rolled on in some way. However, one of the more important differences between glues is whether they are hot melt or cold applied glues.

Hot melt glues are perhaps the most familiar to those who do crafts as a hobby. Small glue guns that accept solid glue sticks are easily acquired for work with wood, fabric, or paper art. A hand-held spot glue gun can affix a bead of adhesive to almost anything, and the other piece of cardboard or wood will immediately be held fast as the glue quickly solidifies. Spot gluing with hot-melt glue in the creation of standees or corrugated cartons is analogous to this process. (In fact, hot melt glue is also often used in book binding. Again, it solidifies quickly as it cools, forming a tight bond between the spine and signatures of a print book.)

Another option, applied with a spray nozzle or roller, is cold glue. Unlike the cold glue found in craft stores for fabric work, bead work, or other crafts, cold glue for custom printing adheres quickly to corrugated board. This is used particularly in the making of corrugated board cartons, and presumably it can also be used in the making of movie standees, since they are composed of corrugated board and other materials. In fact, it is so strong that the application of a cold glue in the making of pre-glued corrugated cartons can proceed as quickly as 600 meters per minute (according to Bobst carton-making marketing collateral). So it’s not your basic white school glue.

Specialty Uses for Glue in Movie Standees

One of the more unique uses of spot gluing in many of the standees I’ve assembled is to reinforce fragile diecut pieces with a backing of chop sticks. For instance, if a movie character has an outstretched arm with a magic wand in its hand, and if a jolt of electricity is emanating from the wand, then this display might have a very thin piece of fragile material that must last for at least several weeks or months without sagging. In this case, if you look at the back of the diecut movie display character, you’ll see a series of chop sticks hot melt glued to the back of the fragile portions of the display. From the front of the standee, you see none of this. But the display will not collapse upon its own weight.

I’ve always pictured the inventors of this trick as frustrated standee installers at the end of a long night, who after eating take-out Chinese food with chopsticks had a eureka moment and glued them to the standee to support a fragile diecut character image.

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