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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: Display Marketing Options

I just received a catalog from a trade show and marketing display printer, and it has given me a number of new ideas for large format print jobs. Here are some options you might want to consider:

Roll-Up Banner Stands

You’ve probably seen a number of these, anywhere from apartment lobbies to trade shows. First you extend a vertical, telescoping pole. Then then you grab a loop at the center of the horizontal case on the floor. When you pull up on the loop, a spring-loaded banner rolls out of the aluminum case. The bottom of the banner stays fixed in the case while the banner extends. When you reach the top of the vertical pole, you hook the loop onto the hook at the top of the extended pole. A horizontal bar parallel to the aluminum case on the floor keeps the banner dimensionally stable. Once you hook the top cross bar onto the hook, the banner is open and flat, and you’re done.

According to this particular catalog, you can buy stands that will contain banners from 24” x 80” to 62” x 96”. Some are even double sided. When you line up two or three side by side, you can create one giant image out of a number of smaller ones. Prices in this particular catalog range from just over $240 to $405, so this is an economical choice for a trade show.

One thing to note is that some makers of banner stands will let you pay a fraction of the cost to upgrade the banner stand by swapping out the original large format print banner for a new one. This is a useful feature if you update the content year to year.

X-Frame Displays

This is a bargain-priced alternative to a retractable banner stand. You have to hook grommets at the four corners of your large format print banner into hooks on the “X” support stand, but the background frame folds easily, and it keeps the banner dimensionally stable when it’s up and open. It’s not spring loaded like the retractable banner stands, but there are no moving parts to damage. It’s simple and elegant as well as inexpensive. (The grommets keep the hooks from damaging the large format print when it’s open.)

Table Top Displays

These are adorable when compared to the retractable banner stands on the floor. They’re miniatures in every way. Consider buying a big one for your trade show booth (usually a 10′ x 10′ space) and then a few of the miniatures for your display table. Keep in mind that they won’t be seen well enough to stand alone. You will need to get passersby into your booth with larger signage, but once your prospects have arrived, a table-top unit can show them useful branding imagery and information.

Table Throws

Under the table top displays noted above, you might want to spread out a table covering (perhaps a single color cloth) with a smaller printed runner on top. A runner might take up a third of the horizontal space and display an image and text on the top and also on the front of your fold-up table.

Or, you can produce a full-color table throw with a much larger image that extends across the top, front, and sides of the entire table.

A third option is the fitted table throw, which provides space for images and text on the top, sides, and front but hugs the legs of the display table as it slopes inward and down from the table top. This option looks more like a futuristic podium and less like a table covered with a table cloth.

Trade Show Displays

These printed walls can cost upwards of $980, according to the catalog I received, but they are large and dramatic. That is, they can attract customers. Picture a straight or curved wall of support struts covered with a fabric sleeve. The image on the sleeve can end before the curved “end caps,” or the full-color printed fabric can wrap around the entire large panel. You would use such a device for the background wall of your booth, then add lights on top, then either use the display case as a podium or perhaps add a table with a table throw in front of this large format print display.

Other variants have the fabric printed artwork attached to the fold-up background stand. In this case the image is on the front, and the geometric background struts are visible. Since the banner is already attached to the stand, you can open and install the entire display in seconds. Not only are such display walls lighter than those mentioned above, but they are also much less expensive, ranging from $225 to $1,100 in this particular catalog.

Other Large Displays

Some of the displays in the catalog include banners printed on the back and front of a pillow-case-like slip-on bag. This fits snugly on the aluminum display structure, which can be curved around your podium for larger banners. For smaller banners, the fabric sleeve can just be slipped onto a narrow vertical support structure. Some of the banner stands are even “S” shaped for a unique twist.

Feather Flag and Tear-Drop Stands

If you take an aluminum pole and curve it around like a shepherd’s crook (and then add a banner in the curve and down the straight part of the pipe), you have a feather flag or teardrop flag (depending on the shape). You can set these up with outdoor water bags (as ballast, to ensure stability of the base) or with stakes that can be jammed into the dirt if you’re outside on grass. For indoor use, there are bases with support arms.

Event Tents

You can even buy an entire printed tent. The structure comprises a matrix of interlocking, adjustable aluminum poles around which you can attach a printed roof and walls. Maybe you’ll attach just a back wall, or maybe three walls to create a more intimate, enclosed space. These are pricey but dramatic.

General Information

In most cases you’ll get the structure, a hard or soft case (a hard case for the larger format displays, and some cases that even come with wheels due to the overall weight of the display), and the graphic panels. As noted before, some of the panels can be pre-attached to the geometric display structures while others will be slipped on like a pillowcase or sock. Most of the large format displays I’ve mentioned are produced on polyester fabric for their stretch. Therefore, the printing technology used is dye sublimation, which provides astounding color brilliance.

2 Responses to “Large Format Printing: Display Marketing Options”

  1. Jordan says:

    Excellent points on large format printing. It’s so important to make sure you put in that extra effort when working in large format.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on the PIE Blog. I agree with you. In fact, in recent years I think a lot of energy has been going into making superior large-format prints because this has been such a popular aspect of the printing world. Marketing managers have been seeing its value, and manufacturers have been improving the technology and the inks. So I’m very excited about where this technology will go over the next several years.


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