Are you cracking up? More accurately speaking, is your image cracking up?
From time to time we see window lettering, vehicle graphics, and business signs looking tattered and just plan worn-out past it's prime. This cracking is the result if years of element and sun exposure to the material - vinyl films.
A bit on vinyl films. There are several different manufactures of both cast and calendared pressure sensitive vinyl films, all of which bond to surfaces with a thin adhesive film right on the material. The cast films will give you much longer life than the calendared films. Don't be fooled, they look and feel identical, except in price. If you want longevity always seek out cast, or high performance films. They will crack overtime but hopefully a lot less than what you are witnessing here.
We just installed a recently completed, custom 4 layer, colored acrylic sign for a twin cites media company. Take a look, this creative project really turned out nice!
What really makes a sign like this pop out from other acrylic sign options is all the colored layers. The sign started out with a custom shaped white acrylic base. from there it grew in elevation with 1/4" blue acrylic for the main name. On top of that was a raised, two tier "peacock", the iconic symbol for NBC. Getting everything to line up perfectly involved precision laser cutting each of the shapes and a steady hand with both liquid adhesive and acrylic placement. To finish this project off we decided to hang the sign using a stand-off puck hanging system. The raised puck mount hanging system not only creates interesting shadows on the wall which helps draw attention to the sign, but the puck fasteners add a nice touch of elegance too.
To quote the late Charles Mingus: "Making the simple awesomely simple, that is creativity."
Not all banner materials are the same. There is so much to chose from these days: vinyl, polyester, satin, canvas, nylon, the list goes on. The graphic application processes are also numerous with vinyl films, screen printing, and direct digital printing taking the lead.
Big Idea is located in St. Paul, MN. If you have been paying attention to the weather this winter, especially if you live in Minnesota, the temperatures sure have kept people from talking about global warming. We have had numerous below zero days this year already. This picture was taken on a windy -7°f day. If you pay attention to wind chill it had a "feels like" -20°f.
Back to banners. The banner pictured here is made of a tough polyester material. It is lightweight and serves the purpose of a sail flag banner very well. It can be folded for storage yet still displays nice, the lightweight material allows it to flutter and move freely while on display, and the graphics take on a rich vibrant tone. The added value for us cold weather folks is that the material holds up in the coldest of temperatures. The ever popular vinyl banner materials on the other hand, if not mounted tight and flat to a stationary surface, will crack and break down in the extreme cold. Trust us on this, we have seen the destruction first hand. "I had a call years ago from someone in Grand Marais. They had a 20' x 3', 18oz. vinyl banner with pressure-sensitive vinyl graphics displayed over a dog sledding trail. The temperature was -20°f and the wind was gusting at 25mph. That is a "feels like" -50°f! The extreme cold along with the wind is no match for vinyl banners. Their banner was literally frozen while being snapped in the wind. Needless to say, it made it for 2 hours before it fell apart. It literally cracked and pealed into hundreds of pieces." Our experience says stick with fabric based materials if you plan to display a banner in below freezing conditions. It works today as well as it worked for Will Steger and team years ago on a trek to the North Pole. Yes, our owner was behind this project as well!
You also should pay close attention to the graphic application, making sure it has some sort of UV inhibiting characteristic. Investing in a banner should not end short because a "banner guy" took a short cut on printing.