Unleashing the Market Opportunities of Window Graphics in the Retail Industry
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Unleashing the Market Opportunities of Window Graphics in the Retail Industry

Retail displays and graphics have and will continue to represent a major opportunity for sign makers looking to increase revenue.

By By Jennifer Chagnon, Senior Marketing Manager, InteliCoat Technologies

Among the various retail applications utilized by today's sign professionals, many have begun to place an increased emphasis on window graphics.

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  • The plethora of new and improved inks, media, hardware and software has pushed the quality of window graphics to a new level - making them an increasingly attractive opportunity. In fact, according to SGIA's Benchmarking Report, "2012 SGIA Market Trends and Product Specialties: Graphics and Sign Community," window displays represent the second most served product area for graphics and sign producers.

    Today's window applications can be produced on a wide variety of media, from clear films and textiles to repositionable polypropylene and perforated films, using various printing technologies. Additionally, advancements have enabled the creation of one-of-a-kind window graphics in which pieces of a display can be altered to meet regional or industry-specific requirements for significant cost savings.

    Due to the emergence of these new media offerings, selecting the right window display media can be challenging. The digital media landscape features a range of materials, textures and adhesion options that can affect the look of the final graphic. The following article details the innovative media choices available to today's sign makers, and provides tips for creating eye-catching window graphics that can be easily mounted and displayed.

    Clear Films
    Featuring great black densities, clear films are becoming increasingly popular for a number of POS applications, including lightbox graphics, window graphics, color overlays and screen positives. There are numerous clear film solutions available on the market today for solvent, eco-solvent, latex, water and UV-cure printing systems. When choosing among clear film options, look for polyester films, which deliver the smoothest base uniformity and highest image resolution. Recyclable polyester films should be considered to ensure environmental responsibility.

    It is important to note that some printers cannot see clear films due to their optical sensing detection mechanisms. For printers that require edge media sensing, there are options available with stripe. For systems that require an interleaf for media sensing - or for end-users who prefer interleaf - there are media options available without stripe. For those sign makers that do not wish to use clear films with edge stripe or interleafs for their optical sensing printer systems, many manufacturers offer clear films featuring a slight level of opacity to eliminate the need for edge stripes.

    To adhere such clear films to windows, apply a two-sided, pressure-sensitive, optically clear adhesive. Once mounted, these clear films deliver eye-catching window graphics that can be easily displayed in any retail venue.

    Textiles are another popular option used for the creation of window graphics and displays as they yield high density with superb color gamut for a soft appearance. When choosing among textile offerings, look for media consisting of 100% polyester woven fabric.

    Use textiles that feature a low-tack, non-permanent, pressure sensitive adhesive with a paper liner for easy mounting. It is extremely important to choose repositionable options that print full bleed, won't shrink with heat and prevent edge curl. The low tack adhesive will allow the product to be repositioned and reapplied countless times, making it ideal for both window and wall decals.

    Repositionable Polypropylene
    Repositionable polypropylene products are also ideal for the creation of short and long-term promotional window graphics, personalized posters, retail displays and residential graphics. Polypropylene is durable for multiple uses, and unlike vinyl, it will not shrink with heat or have any edge curl off the surface.

    In addition to featuring low-tack adhesion, polypropylene is very well priced for low cost indoor and outdoor signage. For maximum cost effectiveness, choose polypropylene products that feature a universal coating. This can bring in one SKU that works across all platforms to reduce inventories and enhance production flexibility.

    Once a polypropylene image has been unrolled and allowed to flatten at a minimum air and surface temperature of 50°F, it can then simply be peeled back and placed in the desired location. Squeegee down the graphic with minimal pressure while removing the liner, and smooth out any wrinkles and bubbles while applying the image. Polypropylene window graphics can be reapplied by removing slowly and lifting at a 90°angle. These may also be applied to other smooth, flat, clean surfaces.

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    Perforated Window Film
    There are various perforated window films available for outside and inside-mounted window graphics, which are well suited for eco-solvent, solvent and latex printing systems. These enable sign makers to print directly on the window film for significant time savings.

    Select materials with an ideal ratio of hole perforations. In general, 60/40% hole perforations are crafted to trick the inside observer's eyes into seeing only what's happening outside - the outside viewer sees a vivid advertisement that appears to be a solid print; even though the film only covers a portion of the window.

    Clear liquid laminates are compatible and provide excellent surface protection for such perforated window films. For the application of these products, the temperature of the application surface should be above 40°F. The film can then be peeled and folded back from approximately 1" of the liner. Once the film is aligned to the window, the top edge should be tacked down. From there, installers can gently peel the remaining liner while using a smooth squeegee, roller or hand to evenly apply the graphic. The graphic can later be repositioned.

    Recent technological advancements have opened the door for perforated window films specifically designed to be printed on the adhesive side. This innovative design is both an adhesive and an ink receptive coating, allowing retailers to mount graphics inside the storefront to eliminate damage to their advertisements. As with outside mounted window graphics, sign makers should choose products that feature a 60/40% ratio and require no additional adhesives or mounting tapes.

    Since the image side is tacky, the printer and printer area should be cleaned prior to use to eliminate debris from settling on the print side. It is recommended to unwind a few wraps of the material to feed into the printer, and keep the media draped on the unwinding roll without the use of take-up reels. To prevent debris from collecting on the tacky substrate, place a clean silicone media on the floor under the printer.

    As with all other window graphic media, inside mounted window graphics should be applied to a clean, dry surface with an application surface temperature of above 40°F. Installers should hold the graphic toward the glass, without touching the application surface, and tack down the top edge. It can then be gently tacked down, working down and out, using a soft squeegee or roller, or by hand. After the graphic is installed, the liner can be removed and the graphic can be reapplied or repositioned.

    Today's media options enable the creation of softer-looking, high-end window graphics that are more environmentally friendly than traditional vinyl materials. There are a plethora of window graphic products designed for aqueous, eco-solvent, solvent, latex and UV-cure printing systems. By taking advantage of today's innovative media options, sign makers can create eye-catching window graphics that can be easily mounted and displayed.

    About the Author
    Jennifer Chagnon serves as senior marketing manager for InteliCoat Technologies. Chagnon has a strong background in commercialization of manufactured products, as well as experience in marketing and promoting consumer products. Chagnon is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and trade shows. For additional information, visit http://www.magicinkjet.com.

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