Selecting and Printing Backlit Fabrics
Backlit graphics displays are everywhere these days. At a session yesterday on “Selecting and Printing Backlit Fabrics,” Michael Compton, Product Marketing Manager for Top Value Fabrics (Booth 2155), went over some of the best practices he’s learned in his 17 years of experience with printing on textiles.
He touched first on the value of knits versus wovens, with a clear preference for the former. For backlit frame systems, Compton pointed out, “knitted backlit fabrics typically offer better stretch characteristics.” This makes it easier to use them in curved frame structures.
Dense knit fabrics provide better opacity for backlit LED light diffusion, he added.
“What you don’t want when you have LED lights … are hot spots or any of the inconsistencies coming through,” Compton said. Woven fabrics can reveal hot spots when the finished image is viewed at an angle.
Another benefit of using knits, he pointed out, is their lock stitch construction, versus the loose-end construction of wovens, which can cause fraying. “You don’t have to hot knife them,” he said.
Using coated backlit fabrics is a good way to eliminate hot spots and pinholes, which will be visible under LED lights, he said. Coated fabrics also remove the need for an additional diffuser panel behind the finished fabric graphic.
Compton stressed the importance of profiling your printing system in order to provide superior graphics. Also, he encouraged printers to use a proofing frame for backlit graphics so they can see the print the way the customer will see it.
This applies even to the shipping of graphics. Avoid folding fabrics when shipping as creases will be visible once illuminated.
“What I recommend is rolling the fabric,” he advised. It will cost more, he acknowledges, “but at the end of the day you won’t be dealing with fractures and scuffs.”
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.