The last time we spoke with Formula Boats, the marketing department – led by director of communications Tonya Hamilton – had just completed a spectacular wall mural for the front lobby of its headquarters in Decatur, Ind.
While the wall mural is an amazing accent that wows visitors and brings passersby on the nearby road in for a closer look, where the rubber really meets the road (or the rudder meets the water in this case) is at boat shows.
For a classy look that brings out the best in the boats the company is showcasing, Hamilton has been using LexJet Poly Select Heavy SUV. The inkjet printable fabric also images well and is lighter and easier to transport to the more than 50 shows at which Formula Boats exhibits its wares.
“We’re trying to draw attention to the booth and to the dealers in the booth. The banners provide the quick information they need to know about us and our dealers beyond picking up a catalog,” says Hamilton. “The Poly Select fabric is so much richer and nicer than a regular banner material or decals; it makes our boats pop better and gives the banners more visibility.”
But fabric can have a Beauty and the Beast quality about it. The Beast factor is the same one that makes it a Beauty. Since most fabrics are relatively light, it can be difficult to get enough tension for a smooth print.
“We’ve had some problems with the tension on certain fabrics. The take-up reel will fight against the main roller on the printer, where the head is located. We figured out a way to correct the issue by taping a few inches of the fabric in the center to the take-up reel. Then, we cut the edges of the fabric off in a 45-degree angle from the tape to the edge of the fabric so the leading edge taped to the take-up reel comes to a point and looks like an envelope, which gives it more tension as it prints,” explains Hamilton.
P.S. I asked our technical support director, Adam Hannig, about the tensioning issue, and he uses the same basic method on all substrates, fabric or not, to ensure smooth printing all the way through. However, he cuts in a half circle from where the leading edge is taped to the take-up reel, creating a smoother edge that’s less likely to get caught in the rollers (see photo). Also, Hannig adds, be sure to use just one piece of tape in the center.
Problem solved, and Hamilton adds that she prints a lot of duplicates since the company attends so many boat shows each year. For instance, she printed 15 of the 13-foot-long Formula banners, which you can see in the righthand side of the first photo. She also prints banners for dealer showrooms and for the dealer to use after the show at their own follow-up event.