Enhancing your Market with Fabric: Identify fabric characteristics and suitability for finished product. Understand benefits of fabric as a printable material. Material presented to sign industry during International Sign Expo.
To enhance a project site intended for use by the public, architects and designers can turn to the family of specialty fabrics. The “active” or kinetic aspects of fabrics, together with their color and festivity, give them a powerful edge over “hard” materials that are inert and often restricted to earth tones.
Banners and flags provide colorful and economical ways to dress up a building or a boulevard. They can successfully integrate parts of a shopping district attractively and inexpensively. Seasonal decorating, special events and everyday activities all provide good opportunities for decorating with fabric pieces.
Brightly colored fabrics don’t have to be printed with advertisements to catch an eye and “sell” a business or service-a striking color often leaves a strong impression.
The movement of banners and flags is a major advantage over fixed billboards and signs. When something moves, the eye is inevitably drawn to it.
Frequent changes in familiar settings also attract attention, and since banners and flags are relatively easy to mount and remove, whole new looks can evolve from simply changing colors.
Fabric pieces can enhance a variety of locations and are available in many formats for installation across streets, on light poles or street lamps, on buildings, and on flagpoles. They can be one-or two-sided, mounted with rope or cable and come in any shape or size.
Listed are types of banner fabric
- Acrylic – Synthetic fiber, moderate durability, moderate abrasion resistance, moderate-high elongation, excellent resistance to the sun, water has no effect. Acrylic offers the aesthetics of cotton but is resistant to UV light, mildew and water. Weaving makes the fabric highly breathable so hot air and moisture will not be trapped.
- Modacrylic fibers – are modified acrylic. They are made from acrylonitriles, but a larger proportion of other polymers are added to make the copolymers. Modacrylics were the first inherently flame retardant synthetic fibers; they do not support combustion, are very difficult to ignite, are self extinguishing, and do not drip. Modacrylics have properties similar to acrylic. Major differences are that modacrylic is flame retardant and has better heat resistance compared to acrylic. Modacrylics are less durable than acrylics, do not wrinkle, moderate dimensional stability, high elastic recovery, and retain color well. Primary use is in applications where environmental resistance is needed or where flame retardancy is necessary or required by law or building codes.
- Solution – dyed acrylic-In solution dyeing, color pigments are added to the acrylic fibers while the fibers are in a semi-liquid state. As a result, the color becomes an integral part of the fiber, and unlike piece-dyed acrylic, won’t wash out. Solution dyeing reduces fading and deterioration due to UV exposure and is available in more than 100 solids, stripes and patters. Guaranteed to hold its color for five years, solution-dyed acrylic can create bright, long-term outdoor banners.
- Solution – dyed modacrylic-Shares many of solution-dyed acrylic’s characteristics but has significant differences including increased flame resistance and heat sensitivity.
- Polyester– are woven or knitted fibers. Filaments are high tenacity or regular, bright or delustered, white or solution dyed. The fibers are not as transparent as nylon fibers. Abrasion resistance and strength are excellent. Filaments are used in sheer fabrics where their excellent light resistance and fine denier make them particularly suitable for ninon and marquisette.
- Knit polyester – useful in outdoor flags and banners. Fabric is inexpensive to print; durable, knit construction allows air to pass through, rather than blocking or catching the wind. The fabric is less expensive to manufacture than nylon, which has been the fabric of choice.
- Vinyl-coated polyester – The manufacturer add chemical compounds to provide pigment, flame retardance, and UV, water, and mildew resistance to the liquid vinyl coating. The coating is applied to the polyester scrim, and then cured by passing through a heated chamber. Vinyl-coated polyesters most often are used to crate lightweight banners printed on one side.
- Acrylic-coated polyester – This dimensionally stable fabric can be used for interior or exterior banners. It comes in a wide range of colors and accepts silk-screening, applique and hand painting.
- Spun bonded polyolefin – look and feel much like paper. They are lightweight, weatherable and low-cost. Typically are used to create short-term, indoor/outdoor banners.
- Vinyl-coated mesh – Meshes, or a combination of solid and mesh fabrics make a good choice when wind loads are a major factor because wind passes through their open weave.
- Vinyl laminates – laminates offer the benefits of two or more materials in one. These fabrics are constructed by sandwiching polyester, nylon or fiberglass scrims between two layers of vinyl. Technically they are formed when the scrim is calendared between two layers of thermoplastic film, but generally they are manufactured by applying heat and pressure and including an adhesive layer between the film and scrim. The scrim provides tensile and tear strength, plus dimensional stability. The vinyl offers a smooth, uniform surface for printing graphics. The fabric can be sewn, heat-sealed, or RF welded. Most laminates meet the requirements of the California State Fire Marshal. Fabric doesn’t have a soft hand and comes in limited color choices. Fabrics are not translucent.
- Canvas and drill cloth – are natural fibers. Tend to last fairly well for indoor and outdoor applications and generally are less expensive than synthetics. Is less UV-resistant than synthetics, and some believe they are less capable of holding a variety of bright colors.
- Nylon – the first synthetic fiber. Fabric has excellent durability, abrasion resistance, tenacity and elongation. The fabric is also resilient and has excellent elastic recovery and comes in a variety of weights. This is a favorite fabric for flag making.
- Unsupported films – polyethylene and vinyl sheeting are lightweight inexpensive banner plastics without any fabric reinforcement. Their smooth surfaces make them suitable for screen-printing.