Good, Better, Best: HEYtex Outdoor Banner Material

Summer is here, and that means more outdoor signage jobs for you! When it comes to outdoor banners, the key is long-lasting graphics that can stand up to the elements.

For this installation of our Good, Better, Best series, we’re looking at three excellent outdoor banner options from HEYtex Textiles: HEYtex 13 oz TopazFLX, HEYtex 15 oz Topaz DS and HEYtex 18 oz Pole Banner.

Each of these deliver consistent quality at an affordable price that are compatible with eco-solvent, solvent, UV and latex ink technologies. We chose the matte options for outdoor use to avoid any glare from the sun that you might get when used outside. Let’s dive in to these three options:

GOOD: HEYtex 13 oz TopazFLX — This is an affordable and durable frontlit banner that’s ideal for one-sided printing. While there are other 13 oz options on the market, our partners at HEYtex are known for their highly consistent product with a 1000×1000 denier and 9×9 knitted base material that looks great grommeted for hanging banners.

What users say: “It’s a nice, thick media. The denier count is really high compared to the different vinyl substrates, which is crucial for outdoor signage.”

BETTER: HEYtex 15 oz Topaz DS — A heavier frontlit option with the added value of double-sided printing capabilities, as well as a higher tensile strength and a nice, smooth, matte surface for exceptional print reproduction. Excellent option for a variety of applications, such as the barrier graphic used in a retail space, pictured at top.

What users say: “We definitely needed a durable product that would be tough and hold up to a lot of abuse.”

BEST: HEYtex 18 oz Pole Banner — With a 1,000-by-1,000 woven denier, this pole banner material has a high tensile strength for long-term indoor or outdoor sign and graphic applications. Plus, it’s two-sided printable and provides 100% blockout qualities that makes it the ideal option for pole banners that are viewed whether people are coming or going.

What users say: “The 18 oz offers a very high tensile strength that’s great for printing on both sides. It looks great sewn with pole pockets, as well.”

Liquid Lamination Made Easy with the StarLam Laminator

For print facilities looking to increase speed and consistency in liquid coating applications, the Marabu StarLam Liquid Laminator is the go-to solution for water-based coatings, such as ClearShield Liquid Coatings.

Watch the video above to learn how easy it is to set up the StarLam and get it rolling. The machine can handle a variety of substrates up to 64-inches wide, as well as various coatings, such as Marabu ClearShield for the StarLam.

The StarLam can coat printed substrates for many applications, such as banners, canvas prints, vehicle graphics, wallcoverings, trade shows and more. Because the StarLam includes a heater and roll-to-roll design, the prints are ready to go with a finished, consistent layer of coating that offers the benefits of film lamination at a budget-friendly cost.

Applying coating using the StarLam is designed to be a one-person process, and it speeds up workflow for high-production shops. Plus, the StarLam cleans up in less than 10 minutes — no roller or pail rinsing and cleaning needed.

To learn how to shut down and clean the StarLam, watch the video below. If you have any questions about how to incorporate the StarLam Liquid Laminator in your operation, give a LexJet print specialist a call at 800-453-9538.

Get to Know the Installation Location Before Shooting for Large-Format

Guest blog by Billy Elkins

Billy Elkins

In my last blog, I wrote about communication and went over the five-part process for photographing for large-format printing. Let’s look more specifically at scouting the final installation location. This is the part that is usually the most intimidating for photographers who are not used to photographing for large-format.

Often it is not a simple single surface. In fact, most of the time, the location is more complicated. As the photographer, we normally do not have access to the location of the installation so knowing as many details about the location as possible is important when capturing the image. The previous example from the Sarasota International Airport illustrates that perfectly.

Riverwalk image after final installation at the Sarasota Airport

The image for the airport had to be installed on the back wall directly behind the baggage claim area. This presented a few challenges because of the actual baggage claim window, a large advertising display screen, a column in the middle of the wall and the actual baggage claim conveyor belt system.

Like any other large format photography project, having a photograph of the installation location is useful for conceptually trying to decide how to capture the right image and from the right angle and the right size.

Understanding the location of the final image applies to all large-format photography projects. If you consider vehicle wraps, wall murals or trade show displays, they all have their own installation challenges that, as the image maker, we need to be aware of for the best results.

For this next example project, I was commissioned by LexJet to create an image for their “Carnival” themed trade show booth. The booth itself was 50-feet wide, and they wanted the photo to be the whole backdrop. The installation would be printed on LexJet Simple Flo Wrap Vinyl, and then installed on the back wall of the trade show exhibition floor.

The final image size ended up being 50-feet wide by 25-feet high. This was huge! When you entered the trade show floor, you could see the “Carnival” in the background and could smell the popcorn from the booth. I worked directly with the marketing team to create different versions of the background so they could integrate the best option with the rest of the booth design.

The fair image installed behind the LexJet trade show booth.

So how did we do it? We visited the Florida State Fair and spent most of the day capturing different scenes that were potential backdrops. I brought my full bag of lenses, and we decided on a focal length of 50mm, it is the closest focal length to what we actually see. I made very tight overlapping images so that we had as much resolution as possible knowing that final image size needed to be so big.

And because the marketing team was going to experiment with the concepts after the fact, we had to capture as many different scenes and as large as possible. The idea was to give the feel of walking right up to the carnival. In addition, we crafted images to be used for the rest of the booth and to be used for sample material give-aways.

Technical Details:

  • Camera – Nikon D800
  • Lens- Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
  • Focal Length – 50mm
  • F-Stop – f/9
  • Shutter – 1/650
  • ISO – 200
  • Frames – 20 overlapping NEF files

The image was merged using Adobe Photoshop CC Automate > Photomerge. I provided a final layered PSD file to the marketing team so they could make any adjustments for layout and for printing.

Quick Tip: How to Hand-roll Liquid Coating

If your next print is going to be exposed to the elements or needs extra handling — like wrapping it on stretcher bars — you’ll want to add a protective layer of coating to keep that print looking sharp for a longer duration. This is especially true for images and graphics output on an aqueous printer.

Liquid coating is a cost-effective option for print protection, and is especially handy for canvas prints that need to be gallery wrapped. Check out the video above to see how easy it is to get a consistent, even application of liquid coating that looks great and lasts.

At LexJet, we’ve got the most comprehensive line of print protection products from the brands you know and love: Marabu ClearShield and Sunset. Check out our Print Protection page and browse through out “Water Based Liquid” coatings to see all the options for everything from canvas and photos to signage and wallpaper.

Opt for a gloss option to bring out the density in blacks and a matte finish to cut down on glare. We’ve also got options for anti-graffiti and transit graphics.

A few more hand-rolling tips:

  • When rolling, opt for a high-density white foam roller to help reduce bubbling — these come in a variety of widths for your needs
  • When rolling on the coating, opt for two thinner coats, rather than one thick one
  • Overlap your coating in a few passes, but not so many that the coating becomes tacky or bumpy
  • Small bubbles should dissipate, but if you get larger ones, try blowing on them to remove them
  • Rinse your roller until the water runs clear, and you’ll be able to reuse your roller for about six months

Not sure which coating to choose? Give us a call at 800-453-9538 for some expert advice.

NEW BLOG SERIES: Good, Better & Best eSatin Photo Papers

When comparing photo papers, canvas and other media options, we know it’s not always easy to determine what the best option is for your production volume, output expectations and price point considerations.

That’s why we’re starting our “Good, Better, Best” series to look at some ideal products for your needs. We’re kicking off with one of our most popular categories: eSatin Photo Papers.

These papers are in high demand for professional photographers and reproduction studios who want classic photographic results without excessive gloss and glare. eSatin Photo Papers look great in a frame or on their own, whether you’re producing larger-than-life prints or handy 8x10s. Take a look at our Good, Better and Best options before you buy your next roll:

GOOD: LexJet 8 Mil Production Satin Photo Paper — This all-around high-performing photo paper is a lightweight option for everyday use in large-production volume printing.

Posters fine art inkjet printing
Posters printed on LexJet 8 mil Production Satin Photo Paper

It’s ideal for high-volume thanks to a microporous inkjet coating that dries fast, so you don’t have to wait to handle and finish your graphics. Plus, it’s resistant to smudges and fingerprints — an excellent choice for high-traffic environments. Starting at $0.34 per square foot, it has a subtle satin finish for a natural look, and many users choose to finish it with a film laminate for extra protection.

What users say: “It’s similar in look and feel to Sunset Photo eSatin, but it’s less expensive and thinner. In other words, it’s a good alternative for more economical photo products like posters or even test prints.”

BETTER:  LexJet Sunset Production eSatin 250g — Great results paired with an excellent price point make this photo paper our “Better” choice. Professional photographers turn to this resin-coated option when they need a slightly lighter-weight version that works for both portraits and commercial graphics. At $0.45 per square foot, this paper delivers a larger color gamut with pin-sharp detail.

What users say: “On our initial trials it held its own when we did our side-by-side comparisons with a similar photo paper, and we like the Sunset Production eSatin better. The paper is brighter and just as durable and so far has proven to be a winner.”

Portraits printed on LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper 300g

BEST: LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper 300g — This professional-grade, heavy-weight paper sets the industry standard as the ideal product for photo printing for portrait work to museum exhibits that can last for years. Its consistency has made it the go-to option for years for single prints or framed photos in black-and-white or full-blown color. Some customers have had great success face-mounting it to plex-glass. Starting at $0.61 per square foot (and available in sheets) Sunset Photo eSatin provides excellent ink retention for realistic and accurate colors.

What users say: “The heavier weight and wide color gamut of eSatin is exactly what I’m after in a print; I just love how that print medium presents.”

Keep Those Banners High & Dry with Water-Resistant Media

Sure, April Showers are supposed to be coming to an end, but let’s be honest: We all know that with our wacky weather this year, the rainy days will continue. When it comes to outdoor signage, water-resistance is a key factor for graphics that can stand up to the elements. We gathered three of our top-performing outdoor media in vinyl, polyethylene and mesh that’ll resist the rain:

LexJet TOUGHcoat Blockout ThriftyBanner: This cost-effective, aqueous-compatible scrim vinyl option not only handles the outdoors for up to six month, it also provides a black backing for 100% opacity. With a great color gamut and smooth surface, it’s an excellent option for event signage or when you need to keep unsightly areas covered, like construction sites or even old signage.

HP HDPE Reinforced Banner: A great option for your environmentally conscious customers who care about recycling, this high density polyethylene reinforced banner is a cost-conscious option (starting at $0.33/sq ft). An alternative to scrim vinyl, this lightweight banner material resists the elements thanks to an HP media surface treatment that’s durable and provides great-looking graphics, too.

HEYtex Mesh w/ Liner: This latex-friendly banner option not only withstands the rain, but can take on the wind, too. This 360gsm polyester base with a 60/40 mesh pattern is an attractive alternative that maintains the integrity of your graphics without having to cut wind vents. It’s easy to grommet and hang, making it a go-to for latex, solvent, eco-solvent or UV-curable print technologies.

Learn about these and other water-resistant materials, give a LexJet print specialist a call at 800-453-9538.