Tips and Tricks

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Applying Velcro Strips or Magnetic Tape

Before you apply full 1” Velcro strips to every edge of your tradeshow graphic, remember your graphics will likely be rolled and stored for an extended period of time. By applying Velcro in 1/2” strips and slitting the pieces every 12”-24” to align with the diameter of the roll you can prevent the Velcro from buckling during extended storage. This will ultimately help prevent any delaminating and extend the life of your graphics. Or follow this simple mantra... Don’t overuse Velcro.

Color Accurate Prints Without Color Measurement Devices

If you don’t have a color measurement device and your production uses on board generic driver or RIP settings instead of a custom ICC profile, skin tones are a great indicator of color accuracy as you test different settings.

Daily Maintenance

Each printer comes with maintenance instructions in the manual. Let’s be honest, though, we all use our printers at different workloads. Make sure you clean your machines on a regular basis (either daily or weekly depending on use). You should also check the alignment and registration before you begin printing on each media type. Each media type, thickness and smoothness will alter the media feed.

Drying

Allow solvent prints to dry and outgas thoroughly before handling. For extra protection against fingerprints and scuff marks, wear gloves when handling printed media during the first 12 hours. To maximize production, sometimes you need a little extra drying power. Try using a dehumidifier in the room and placing box fans in front of the printer. (Be careful with fan placement. Airflow under the media may cause head strikes during printing.)

How to Roll Overlaminated Tradeshow Graphics

Since tradeshow graphics go through a tremendous amount of stress from rolling and unrolling, everything that can be done to minimize this stress can help prevent delaminating and extend the life of your graphics. For shipping and storing, roll laminated graphics image side out (this refers to the side on which the ink is printed) no smaller than a 9” radius. If possible, store the graphic flat for longer storage periods. If Velcro is applied to the backside, place a slip sheet or protective paper next to the Velcro to prevent it from scratching your finished surface.

Matching Print Films and Overlaminates

The best way to create an ultra durable “sandwich” for your graphics is to match similar thickness and material types of print films, overlaminates and backers. For example, a 6 mil printable polyester with a 15 mil polycarbonate overlaminate is not a good solution. The rigid polycarbonate will ultimately delaminate from the polyester face film at the most inopportune time. For backwall displays (>20mil) start with a 9-12 mil film and pair it with a 10-15 mil laminate. For retractable displays (<12 mil) using an overlaminate, start with a 4-9 mil film and pair it with a flexible overlaminate (<5mil thick).

Preventing Head Crashes

Head crashes can have minor and major impact on your print production. Head crashes are most common in media that is overly thin (<4 mil) or overly thick ( >12 mil). The best prevention for head strikes is to be proactive. Feed the media out past the end of the platen by about six to ten inches. This is especially useful with solvent and latex printers that deliver extreme heat to the part of the roll that sits idle on the platen during the warm-up period. Another trick is to put weight clamps (something heavy enough to hold the media flat but not so heavy that it impacts the media feed) on the front edge of the media. This will assist the vacuum to keep the media flat against the platen, preventing the printer carriage from striking it as it travels back and forth. Balance the clamps evenly across the width of the roll to prevent skewing.

Roll Storage

It may sound silly, but the storage of media, especially media that you don’t use everyday, is very important. It is best to keep media inside the bag and the box it came in when not in use. This helps protect the coating and material itself from temperature and humidity changes that can degrade the coating and warp the media.

The Truth About Optical Brightener (OBA)

There are more myths than truths floating around the industry about optical brighteners and their impact on archivability. OBAs are not inherently bad and the presence or lack of OBAs does not inherently make something archival or not. OBAs do create the appearance of higher whiteness and richer printed colors. If unprotected, this will dissipate (fade) over a long period of time. In the case of canvas, the “faded” result will be similar to the original color of the base canvas. If you use a liquid overcoat, this will protect the enhanced whiteness and significantly minimize the fading over time.