Vibrant and colorful tension fabric graphics are everywhere – trade shows, retail displays, airports, sporting events, and art festivals. Just about any indoor or outdoor event. They’re lightweight, easy-to-transport, durable, and generally cost-effective. Even washable, under the right circumstances. Backlit fabric graphics, once an expensive option for exhibitors, are now commonplace on displays as small as a tabletop and as large as 40 x 50 islands.
The fabric printing process has evolved as printers have improved and fabric options increased. There are stretch fabrics, fabrics with blockers, and fabrics designed to minimize wrinkles (even when crumpled into a ball). They are now sustainable options using recycled fabric and low VOC inks. Exhibit design professionals understand the nuances of trade show supplies and displays and can assist with selecting the best fabric graphic, connection system, and hardware for your project.
Best Uses for a Fabric Display
To understand fabric graphics, it’s important to understand an alternative – Direct Print Graphics. Imagine a large ¼” thick white foam board. Many displays, whether at trade shows, events, or retail stores, use large foam board graphics. These attach to a metal frame with a hook and loop (think Velcro) or slide into a metal holder. They are easy to produce, relatively inexpensive, and offer sharp, detailed images. However, they can be costly to ship, require special packaging, and damage easily.
Fabric graphics, particularly dye-sublimated graphics, are more expensive but can ship in a small box, are lightweight, and are generally indestructible. In addition, they offer the added benefit of backlighting when combined with LED lights.
Fabric Graphics at Trade Shows and Events
- Small and Hassle-free. Nearly all tabletop displays use fabric graphics because they require minimal care and attach to the frame in minutes.
- Easy and Lightweight. Most portable 10 ft. and 20 ft. inlines rely on fabric graphics, The connection method will vary depending on the price point and supplier. For example, pop-up graphics typically use grommets or velcro. Tube systems rely on pillowcase fabric graphics. Portable modular systems often use silicone edge fabric graphics (SEG).
- Large and Seamless. Fabric is the best and really the only option for large graphics. Need a huge image at a trade show, then it’s 99% likely to be fabric.
- Big and Backlit. Backlighting has always been a challenge for trade shows, events, and wall-mounted advertising. Fabric graphics, and SEG graphics in particular, are the ideal solution. Simple, affordable, and the LED lights require little maintenance.
- Hanging Signs. Overhead signs have always relied on fabric graphics, but the proliferation of fabric printing has made hanging signs more cost-effective and accessible for exhibitors.
Tension Fabric Backdrop Design Tips
When going BIG, like in a large fabric graphic, your graphic designer will be tempted to create a painting complete with intimate details and a compelling story. Resist that urge. Unlike paintings, which invite careful inspection and may take multiple viewings to fully appreciate, trade show graphics are closer to billboards. They’re all about attracting attention, communicating a compelling message, and offering a logical solution.
Trade shows can be sensory overload. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of booths begging attendees to visit them. In this visual competition, not everyone wins which is why the graphics, especially large fabric graphics, may even be more important than the exhibit structure.
- Have a plan. Write down a strategy. What’s your trade show marketing goal for this trade show? Your graphics should support that goal or goals.
- Unless there’s a strategic reason, adhere to your branding guidelines. Those guidelines were created for a reason and serve as a convenient (and hopefully positive) shortcut to attendees about your products, services, features and benefits, and culture.
- Themes are great as long as they have a purpose and don’t confuse show attendees. Too often, designers become so focused on “nailing the theme” that they lose sight of the message. However, when done well, a clever, well-executed theme may be the talk of the show and a conversational touchpoint for exhibitors for years.
- Big fabric graphics will be seen from 100 yards away, 15 feet away, and 2 feet away. Each has to have a visual purpose that aligns with the overall message and design.
- Pharmaceutical companies are required by law to summarize the adverse effects of any medication. Which means lots of boring bullet points and fine print which no one reads. Academic or scientific trade shows often have something similar, not for legal reasons, but because those details are important to their audience. Assuming you’re not a pharmaceutical or scientific company or an academic research institution, then use text to inform, engage, and entertain in digestible chunks.
- Use a professional designer and high-quality graphics. They’re both worth the money whether you have a 10 ft. display or a 40 x 50 custom island exhibit.
- Be a student of the large fabric graphics on other exhibits. Take notes about what you like and what you feel is especially effective. Then share those notes and any images with the graphic designer. It will make their job much easier and they won’t have to guess. A good point to start is Past Five Days, a gallery of past exhibits on the Exhibits Northwest website with 1000’s of actual projects.
10 Tension Fabric Display Examples
The VKN-5171 takes full advantage of backlit fabric graphics with a 16 ft. tower and lightboxes. The inviting, informative, and practical is available in multiple floor plans.
The GKN-5124 Gravitee Island is a contemporary display with large fabric graphics, practical accessories, and mostly tool-less assembly. The full-size panels slide together with attached connectors.
The VKN-5146 island has two eye-catching backlit SuperNova lightboxes. These light boxes feature SEG dye-sublimated fabric for crisp details and bright colors. High above, there’s an Aero Triangle Hanging Sign which is guaranteed to attract attention in the show hall.
The VKN-1971 innovative SuperNova™ LED Inline lightbox combines exceptionally bright LED lights, modular engineering, an aluminum frame, and silicone edge fabric graphics into a brilliant display.
The VKN-1354 blends bold fabric graphics, backlighting, practical features, and convenient storage. This exhibit offers a large graphic for high impact.
The VKN-2986 is an attractive, affordable, and flexible exhibit designed to maximize your trade show experience. The custom modular display comes with adjustable shelving, a monitor, large-format fabric graphics, and a freestanding pedestal with storage.
This Gravitee One-Step Inline features single or double-sided panels that connect without tools or loose parts, fabric graphics, and a wide range of accessories.
The TFN-523 has a powerful WOW! design with large pillowcase fabric graphics and practical accessories like a large monitor, backwall counter, and locking storage.
Need a portable with pizzazz? The Symphony Portable System combines modular flexibility, portable “no-tools” assembly, and easy SEG fabric graphics.
Unmistakable. The MODN-1614 shines bright with a 20 ft. backlit fabric graphic. The rugged but lightweight aluminum frame offers unsurpassed durability and strength to support large monitors.
8 Fabric Pop Up Displays
Tension fabric pop up displays, like the examples below, are lightweight, versatile, and portable. They’re perfect for exhibitors who want a quick, easy-to-assemble display at a local or regional trade show. They’re ideal as a backdrop for interviews at sporting events, conventions, and sales meetings. Looking for something even smaller? The tabletop versions can be set up in less than a minute for client presentations. All use fabric graphics attached with SEG, velcro, or grommets. The NEXT! Line can even be backlit.
1. NEXT! 10 ft. Backlit
A NEXT! 10 ft. Backlit Display combines a lightweight frame, large SEG fabric graphics, and dramatic backlighting. The stretch fabric ensures a perfect wrinkle-free graphic every time.
2. NEXT! 10 ft. Display
This silicone edge graphic (SEG) pop up offers a seamless, high-quality fabric graphic that’s perfect for local Chamber of Commerce events or industry trade shows.
3. V-Burst 8 ft. Flat
The V-Burst Fabric Pop Up comes with the graphic already attached to the frame. Just expand the portable frame and the vibrant fabric graphic does all the work.
4. V-Burst 10 ft. Curved
The V-Burst is available as either a flat or curved display in a variety of sizes from 5 ft x 5 ft table tops to enormous 12 ft x 7 ft standing displays! The fabric graphics eliminate any glare making them ideal for media backwalls. Every V-Burst comes with a nylon carrying bag and adjustable feet.
5. X1 8 ft. – 3 x 3 H
The X1 Display is a versatile no tools stretch fabric pop-up display system. The collapsible pop-up frame uses magnetic connectors with the option of J-hook connectors for more custom or weight-bearing displays. Stretch fabric graphics come pre-attached to the frame and are easily changed out in the field!
6. X1 10 ft. – 4 x 3 B
The X1 is easy to set up, ultra-lightweight and portable, and even easier to take down. Kits come with graphics, a frame and a drawstring carry bag.
7. SalesMate 4×3 Table Top
The SalesMate Table Top is compact, convenient, and easy to set up. It’s so small you’ll wonder how you lived without it! Just unpack the display from the portable bag and expand it. Each SalesMate display comes with graphics already attached to the frame.
8. SalesMate 2×2 Table Top
Traveling with a full-size display is not always possible. Choose a SalesMate table top kit and eliminate the stress of setting up your displays at your next show or event.
How Much Do Pop Up Fabric Displays Cost?
Prices vary, but the difference between a cheap pop-up and a moderate one is rarely more than $1000. Before purchasing a pop-up display, consider how often you plan to use it, whether it will be for local shows or shipped to national events, and your relationship with the supplier. If this is a one-time purchase, then it may not matter if you buy it online.
However, if you plan to use it for several years and expect to replace the graphic(s) as your marketing campaigns evolve, then a local exhibit supplier makes more sense. They’ll be able to support you with printing, changing out graphics, and replacing any damaged or lost hardware. They also ensure additional display purchases are compatible with your existing properties and not a hodgepodge of mismatched and random pop up frames.
6 of Our Favorite Fabric Display Stand Options
Have you ever wondered if there are attractive alternatives to traditional retractable banner stands? There are. Retractable banner stands, while convenient and cost-effective, are not always visually appropriate for every situation. Fabric Banner Stands and Product Displays offer exhibitors, show organizers, and retailers a lightweight, more upscale option.
Like retractables, they are lightweight and easy to assemble. The MODN-1618D, for example, is a double-sided backlit fabric display with shelves. The VKN-1860 resembles a traditional banner stand but with the added benefit of double-sided graphics. The aluminum frame offers a more stable structure while the seamless fabric graphic is wrinkle-free, vibrant, and upscale. The X1 and NEXT! Designs are excellent alternatives to retractable banner stands. Both use a collapsible pop-up frame, making them super simple to set up, with the added benefit of fabric graphics.
1. MODN-1618D Lightbox with Shelves
SuperNova Lightboxes take a familiar concept, and transform them into a two-sided billboard using lightweight aluminum and tension fabric graphics. Better yet, these are not ordinary graphics. They are silicone edge graphics or SEG. With SEG, your graphics are perfect every time; there’s no guesswork since the silicone fits into the pre-existing aluminum channel.
2. VKN-1860 Sunrise Banner Stand
The Sunrise Banner Stand offers all the advantages of a traditional banner stand — portability, ease of set-up, and a large graphic – with the benefits of a large format tension fabric graphic, durable aluminum frame, and no-tools assembly.
3. TFN-605 Banner Stand
Unlike traditional banner stands which are rectangular and single-sided, tension fabric banner stands can be almost any shape and are almost always two-sided. The frame assembles with push-button connectors, requiring no tools. The graphic slides over the frame like a pillowcase and secures with a zipper. It’s that easy.
4. MODN-1602 Double-sided Lightbox
This double-sided SuperNova lightbox offers twice the branding on a lightweight aluminum frame. The graphics are tension fabric printed using the dye-sublimation process for vibrant colors and vivid backlighting. The lightbox assembles without tools and durable LED modules are attached to the frame.
5. X1 2.5 ft. Pop-up Display
The X1 Display is a versatile no tools stretch fabric pop-up display system. Available designs and custom display options bring excitement and flexibility to your exhibit. The X1 is easy to set up, ultra lightweight and portable and even easier to take down.
6. NEXT! 3 ft Display
The NEXT Modular SEG Fabric System is truly the best of both worlds. Combine the upmarket hard panel looks of custom SEG Extrusion Systems with the lightweight, no tools, ultra portable world of pop-ups.
Fabric Display Support from Exhibits NW
Let Exhibits NW be your guide to exploring fabric graphics and displays… whether you need a custom island exhibit or a cost-effective banner stand. Or both. When you’re ready to take your exhibit design and trade show marketing program to the next level, contact us so we can help! Our team has the experience and the creativity to get you noticed.