What to Watch For When Distinguishing Trade Show Display Fabric Quality

by Bryan Kilpatrick

Fabric trade show displays have become all the rage because of the relative ease of setting up the display hardware and, perhaps more importantly, the beneficial characteristics of the graphic itself. Fabric, as opposed to vinyl and other banner materials, is usually a strong combination of wrinkle resistant, lightweight, and washable. Additionally, the material allows for a large graphic to be contained within a single piece, eliminating the need for multiple panels and creating a seamless display.

However, seeing the term “fabric” associated with a trade show display graphic shouldn’t always automatically trigger one to assume “quality.” Many trade show display manufacturers and print shops cut corners in key areas in order to lower costs. Sure, that kind of approach can make trade show fabric displays fit into almost any budget, but it can also cancel out any sort of benefit that choosing fabric would provide in the first place.

Several factors can affect the quality of an entire fabric trade show display, such as the caliber of materials used to manufacture the hardware. But, since we’re focusing on the fabric graphic itself, here are a couple of things to look for when attempting to differentiate the quality of the graphic:

Ink application

Dye-sublimation printing—a process during which the ink becomes part of the fabric—offers the best combination of durability (since the ink can’t be scratched) and color quality, since PMS color matching tends to be easier with that method of production. But there’s more to it than that; the level of effort implemented by a manufacturer or print shop—even before the printing process ever starts—can play a huge part in the overall constitution of the graphic. Color profiling each of the different types of fabric, for instance, ensures proper color accuracy and ink density during printing. And testing fabrics from different manufacturers, even if the materials are marketed as being the same, can yield results that make all of the difference.

In short, putting in the proper leg work ahead of time can take an ordinary dye-sublimated print and make it absolutely vibrant.

Finishing

How are the pole pockets, velcro, or SEG edging on your graphic sewn? Are the edges fraying? How many rows of stitching produce the best look and provide the most stability on the seams? These are all things that you should have in mind when choosing where to buy your fabric display graphic. Some companies, instead of sewing integral parts of the graphic, use adhesive SEG which can compromise the stability of the fabric. Not all manufacturers and print shops use top-of-the-line cutting processes—such as a laser—that ensure sealed edges. And many times, high-volume production facilities use sewing apparatuses that aren’t exactly thorough in terms of both strength and accuracy. This is often the case when ordering from overseas sources, as opposed to a more controlled domestic approach that includes on-site hand sewing and a greater ability to customize.

Paying attention to how fabric display graphics are finished is paramount because, with fabric display hardware (especially higher-end types and models), even a fraction of a inch—or something seemingly as minor as the quality of a zipper—can make a world of difference.

Have more questions about fabric display graphics? Contact a Power Graphics representative for additional information on how to choose the right fit for your timeline and budget.

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