Correct Installation, Care, and Removal of Car and Truck Decals


Decals for Cars and Trucks – The Proper Ways to Install, Maintain, and Remove Them

Question:  Will car wax affect the window decal on my car’s window?

glass window sticker Not unless it is a VERY poor quality sticker, or an interior paper sticker or label. The wax should actually protect the decal to a point, especially if it’s a good quality exterior window decal.

Because the decals are printed on a PVC vinyl material, usually an inexpensive but decent quality substrate, and combined with an acrylic adhesive to keep them on your window, the was will not affect the glue, and will add some shine and protection to the ink and the vinyl, thus helping it to last maybe just a little bit longer.


Question:  How do I remove bubbles after installing vinyl graphics or decals on my vehicle?

The best way is not to have them there in the first place, but most amateur installers are prone to having bubbles trapped under the vinyl in the acrylic adhesive due to inexperience and not having the correct tools for the job.

However, if you’ve already installed the stickers, and it sounds like that may be the case, then there is one thing we do when we do, on a rare occasion, get a bubble under the vinyl. If you don’t have one, you should be able to purchase an Exacto knife with a 60º blade.

With this blade, carefully poke through the bubble, being careful not to push the tip deep enough to damage the paint on the vehicle. It is helpful at this point to apply heat from a hair dryer or heat gun over the knife prick to help the vinyl become supple and push the air out. Press the spot with your finger. Most of the bubble will have disappeared.


Question:  Can I clear coat over the vinyl decals on my truck?

Contact the paint seller or manufacturer whose clear coat you intend to use. I am quite certain, without making that call myself, that it is not a problem, but I also don’t want to be liable for an issues this might cause, although I know I’ve seen clear coating over car decals in the past.


Question: If I remove a vinyl truck decal, will it damage the paint or clear coat on my truck?

decal for trucks This is a good question, and one we get asked frequently. The answer is no, if you do it correctly. Yes if you do it wrong.

How You’re Doing It Wrong

The wrong way to remove an embedded vinyl sticker, one that’s been there for a long time, is with a scraper or another sharp object, like a screwdriver…unless you are going to repaint the vehicle anyway. Even then, I wouldn’t do it that way myself.

The Right Way to Remove Decals

The proper way to remove a decal or sticker from your vehicle will be to use a heat gun or hair dryer on medium heat. Caution: Do NOT leave the heat in one spot too long, especially if you use high heat, which I’m advising amateurs NOT to do, but if you do, I warned you – it may damage the underlying paint.

Once the metal is warm-ish, maybe in the 120ºF to 140ºF degree range (that’s about 49ºC to 60ºC), use your fingernails to get under the vinyl and slowly pull the decal off. You can continuously but carefully apply heat during this process if needed. The older the decal, the tougher it is to get to release, and the more glue it’ll be likely to leave.

Once the vinyl is off, if there is glue remaining, there’s a couple ways to deal with it. You can use a glue remover with an orange peel oil as the base…this is the best way as far as I’m concerned, as you can simply spray the remover onto the glue, allow it to set, repeat if needed, then take a plastic scraper or an old credit card and scrape the glue off. I usually take a paper towel and spray it with the remover and wipe over the area again to make sure there’s no glue residue left.

If Reapplying the Decals

If you’re reapplying new decals, you’ll want to use some isopropyl alcohol or warm soapy water to remove the oily film from the glue remover, or you may find that your new vinyl truck decals won’t stay on your truck for very long. Isopropyl alcohol is my recommendation over the warm, soapy water, in case you wondered.

Warning: If your truck was out in the sun a lot, and the decal was on for awhile, you may have a spot where the decal was that the paint looks much newer than the rest of your rig!

If you want to learn more about decals and stickers for trucks, check this; for cars windows and all, view here.


Car Decals – Window Defrosters, Tints, & Weather Resistance


Car Vinyl Decals: Effects of Your Defroster, Weather Resistance, Effects on Tinted Windows, and Strength of Adhesive Glue

Question: Will the rear window defroster affect the decal on the rear window?

It shouldn’t. Most rear car window decals on cars or trucks have an acrylic adhesive that should withstand temperature up to 180ºF (82ºC). Your rear window defroster, if functioning normally, is likely never to get near that temperature.


Question:  Are vinyl car decals and stickers weather proof?

polyvinyl letteringVinyl stickers are 100% weatherproof, and if the ink is of good quality, then there really shouldn’t be any problem with water at any temperature, or snow either for that matter. Sun is probably the hardest on decals as it causes ink to fade.

Vinyl decals, also known as PVC or polyvinyl chloride decals, are a supple plastic material that is either hot cast or cold rolled (calendared). The cast vinyl is more dimensionally stable as the calendared material has “memory” of it’s original shape and size and will tend to shrink over time (don’t worry, it will never get all the way back!).

Because cast vinyl is poured hot, the production process is costlier, the material is actually thinner than calendared, and it usually carries a longer warranty. However, most decal printers use calendared films, except for vehicle wraps or other high end graphics that most often are printed on cast vinyl.

Either way, though, to answer your original question, yes, vinyl stickers are definitely weatherproof. And if you find whatever you stuck on your car is not weatherproof, then it wasn’t a vinyl sticker, but more likely a cheap laminated paper sticker.


Question: Do vinyl or polyester decals affect window tint?

Most normal vinyl or polyester stickers or decals should not affect your window tinting. Most factory tinting is done with liquid tinting now, but if you have an aftermarket tint, the adhesive is very aggressive and if you use some heat, like a hair dryer, the decal should release with relative ease, although it may leave adhesive on the window tint.

Most hardware stores have orange peel oil based glue removers that won’t harm the window tinting, but will remove the decal adhesive without hazing the window.

However, if you’re worried about it, then get only vinyl car window stickers that have back adhesive, and stick them to the outside of the car window, or, if you want interior decals, choose static cling which has no adhesive, or a removable sticker or decal.

However, be sure that the removable decal is removable for a long period of time if you plan to leave it on your car window, as many removables have a time limit on how long you’ll be able to remove the sticker.


Question: Do vinyl car window decals wash off?

vehicle windshield stickers Short answer is if they do, you probably don’t have a vinyl window decal, you probably have a paper decal with a laminate or varnish which was not supposed to be used on the outside of your cars.

Often companies will promote a product with an inexpensive paper label that works fine if you are sticking them to a notebook or a refrigerator, but they’re not good for sticking to things outside your home or school.

Vinyl stickers, made of PVC cast or calendared vinyl sheeting, should never wash off your car, and should last 2-3 years before the ink fades out completely. So if you’re ordering window decals for cars to promote your product or service, make sure you’re getting outdoor durable stickers.

For more about stickers and decals designed for cars and other types of automobiles, see here.


Fabric Banner Thickness, Sizes, Installation, and Usage


Fabric Banners – Material Thicknesses and Sizes, How to Display Them, and Why Choose Dye Sublimation Printed Cloth Displays

Question: How thick are fabric banners?

Cloth banners designed with superheroes

Fabric or Cloth Banners are not generally measured by the thickness of the material like many graphic substrates are, such as polyethylene, paper, or corrugated plastic. Rather, it is measured either by weight per square yard or square meter.

You will commonly hear or read when researching cloth banners that it is a 9oz. or a 250gsm material. This refers to the weight of the fabric only, and thickness isn’t factored because fabric is variegated in thickness naturally.

Various fabrics are different weights, and start in the neighborhood of 60 gsm and go up to 350 gsm for some of the heavier knits. The fabrics include poplins, velvets, knits, sheers, oxfords, and satins, to name some of the more popular fabrics, and virtually all of the cloth banners are made from polyester fabrics for dye sublimation printing.


Question: What are some standard dye sublimation cloth banner sizes?

Because cloth banners have such varied usage, not the least of which is being used as banners, there is really no such thing as a standard banner sizing, although, in our experience, some of the most common banner sizes are 4’ x 8’, 3’ x 10’, and 4’ x 12’.

Again, though, fabric banners are often used as part of a display at trade shows, or as hanging “fabric banner posters” in retail environments, so defining popular sizing for these banners is difficult to do, so much so that if we were to say what is the most popular or commons size, we’d have to look at whatever the largest order we’ve received in the past three years might have been.


Question: How do I hang my dye sub fabric banners?

Vinyl Mesh Banners Of course, this will depend on what you trying to accomplish. If you are using it as a banner solely, say, in a trade show or in your retail store, the most common ways to hang banners are from metal eyelets called grommets, or using a pole which slides through a “pole pocket” and is then hung from the ceiling.

Other methods include simply tacking the banner to the wall or using Velcro tabs on the wall and on the banner to hang it quickly, allowing it to be changed out frequently and easily.

If you have a trade show booth, however, that has a frame that you need to attach your banner to or stretch it around, you will typically need to use Velcro tabs sewn to the banner, hook on on side and loop on the other if it wraps around something, or loop only if it is going to attach to something. Adhesive hook Velcro would be used on whatever you were attaching to.

We have a client that annually puts up a big display and uses new graphics each year as well. They have some “pillars” as part of their display that they wrap a lightly stretch fabric around. On the front of the left side of the banner, we sew a strip of loop Velcro, and on the BACK of the right side we sew the strip of hook Velcro, so that it wraps the “pillar” entirely without actually attaching to the pillar. It makes a very attractive display.


Question: Why use fabric banners?

Because they just look better. Period.

The printing method used for fabric banners is almost always, now, dye sublimation printing, which is a continuous tone printing method used to transfer dye to fabric using a transfer paper, heat and pressure.

Vinyl banners not only look plasticky, they are printed using a digital inkjet printer which cannot match the colors and vibrancy of cloth banners.

In our opinion, there is no comparison to the visual quality of fabric versus vinyl banners. Subliminally, I believe that a person viewing your company’s offerings of products or services will see your company as cheap and plasticky if you use cheap vinyl banner graphics.

Conversely, using rich tones and colors on a fabric dye sublimation printed banners will subliminally send the message that you care enough to purchase high quality materials for your product, or that your services will be superior to your competitors.

Visit here to discover more about banners printed with the implementation of dye sublimation.


Dye Sublimation Fabric Printing Compared to Screen Printing


Screen Printing Versus Dye Sublimation, and How Pigment Inks Differ from Dye Sub Inks

Question: If cost is not a concern, what is better?  Screen printing or dye sublimation printing?

While you could, in theory, print a fabric banner using screen printing equipment (t-shirts are most often screen printed and they’re made of cloth), the wider variety of things you can screen print cannot be printed using the dye sublimation printing process.

Here’s a short explanation to back up what I’m saying. Dye sublimation banner or display printing is almost exclusively done on polyester fabrics, whether it’s an oxford, a knit, a poplin, a sheer, or a satin, to name a few styles of fabric.

CMYK Print Colors

The dye sub print process utilizes a 4-color printing process similar to an inkjet printer, except instead of using a CMYK (cyan magenta yellow black) color build, it uses CMYO, exactly the same except for the overprint clear.

An image or photograph is sent to the printer, and it prints the image, in reverse, onto a sheet of transfer media, a treated paper. It is then “married” to the chosen fabric, and sent through another unit with heated pressure rollers. These rollers heat up to around 400F, and with the heat and the pressure, the dye changes from a solid to a gas, and fuses itself to the polyester fabric, creating a continuous tone print much like a photograph.

In my opinion, the dye sublimation printing on fabric is the most attractive of all printing available currently, but as as I stated initially, you can’t print dye sublimation on many items, at least not cost effectively.

Screen printing can also be done as a 4CP print, but it uses a series of dots to create the CMYK print. Unless the printing is done with a very high LPI (lines per inch), it will appear to be much coarser than dye sub printing.

Screen printing is more often used for high volume, simple graphic runs. It is cost effective when run this way, but since cost is of no concern, if you can utilize a fabric banner material for your display, dye sublimation prints will always look much richer than screen printed prints.


Question: What’s the difference between pigment ink and dye sublimation ink?

CMYO Dye Inks Pigmented inks have been used for digital printing of vinyl and decals and similar substrates due to their colorfastness. They are more expensive than dyes, and have less of a color spectrum than dyes do.

Pigmented inks are typically weaker, as stated above, but dye inks will tend to run. However, over the past couple of decades, with the advances in digital printing technology, chemists improved dye inks by adding “hot” solvents which evaporate more rapidly, allowing dye to become the base of digital printing inks rather than pigment inks.

Most digital printers also use a heated platen, before, during, and/or after the printing process, as well as fans to aid quick drying and evaporation of the dye inks. Specially treated materials are also used that are “charged” opposite the dye inks which helps them cure more quickly.


Choosing a Dye Sublimation Fabric Display Printer


Recommendations for Choosing Dye Sublimation Printers – Starting a Fabric Printing Business

Question: Could you recommend a sublimation printer?

No. I post these Q & A articles on sites that won’t allow me to use brand names or shamelessly self-promote our company, so I have to tread lightly. However, I can tell you how we shop for equipment like dye sub printers.

Digital Printing First, determine your market. Do you need a 2.1 meter width printer, or a 3.2 meter. What is available? What do your clients need most consistently? If you know that most of your clients order dye sub fabric banners that are 8 feet wide or tall, then a wider printer may be a better investment. If you’re purchasing a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th unit, and you know that you have a lot of waste on your larger printers, you may need a smaller printer.

Next, we want to see our prospective printer in action. If you have a trusted rep at one company or more that can take you to some print shops that print with one of the printers or more that they sell.

If you can, talk to the press operator or the head of the printing department about the pros and cons of the equipment you’re looking at. You may find that he or she might prefer a dye sublimation printer that the rep who sent you there does not sell.

The more information we can gather, the better. It is best not to be in a hurry to purchase major equipment such as a dye sub printer, but take your time and research as much as possible before making a major purchase.

Also, if you are new and just getting into dye sublimation fabric printing, you may want to do some market research. Who are your clients? Are they currently purchasing dye sub cloth banners? If so, from whom, at for how much per square foot. Is there growing offshore competition driving pricing down?

What about government regulations? Have you factored in waste fees? You can never ask too many questions or do too much research. Unless you are the type who can’t make a decision. Ever. Then you have other issues. I don’t deal with those. Sorry.


Question: We’re just getting started with dye sublimation banner printing – what do we need?

Well, the obvious answer here is a dye sub printer. I know, my wife says the same thing!

Above I talked about how to shop for a dye sub printers, so I won’t rehash that question, but there are a few more items you need to examine.

Your facility. Where will you put the new printer? What is the footprint of the printer? How much space do you need on each side of the printer? Venting is also important. How is your shop ventilated? Do you need more general ventilation added, or a specific vent added for the new unit?

Creating Grommets You also need to know what you need for peripheral tasks. How many more persons will you need to add to your staff for the new printer? You’ll be asked to sew fabric dye sub banners in various ways, with pole pockets, as tubes, as squares, etc., as well has hemming and grommeting. Grommeting by hand is doable, but a pneumatic grommeter is much faster, but they don’t give them away either.

If you’ve made the decision to purchase a printer, you’ll need to choose what polyester fabrics you’ll want to stock, and what size rolls. Hopefully, you’ve had enough experience to be able to know which fabrics are going to move the fastest, print the simplest, and give you the best margins.

For dye sublimation printing of polyester fabric banners, visit this page.


Dye Sublimation Printing Versus Screen Printing


How Dye Sublimation Differs from Screen Printing

Question: What is the difference between dye sublimation and screen printing?

The two styles of printing are markedly different. The similarities are that both are printed on substrates and both produce an image. Aside from that? Not so much.

The screen-printing process uses a very labor intensive set up that you don’t have with dye sublimation printing.

Screen Printing

I’ll walk you through the screen printing process as I know it quite intimately, since this is where I began my career in the graphics business.

The Screen

Screen Printing Mesh Central to the screen printing process is the screen (duh, right?). The screen is still often called a silkscreen, although silk has not been used for many decades since the advent of nylon thread.

There are many types of screen mesh, starting at around 100 threads per square inch and going up to several hundred threads per square inch. The more coarse mesh is becoming less common as it is used with oil-based enamel inks which have been replaced, by and large, with UV inks, which we run through a 220 mesh count as the ink particulates are much smaller than with the older solvent inks.

The Frame

The screen mesh is typically stretched and glued to a wood or aluminum frame, or attached to expandable frames or roller frames. When stretching the mesh over a frame, we typically take the pounds per square inch (as shown on a “Newton Meter) up to 25 or 26, and let the fabric stretch out over-night.

The Screen Tension

By the time 16 to 24 hours have passed, the meter will show that the tension has dropped off to around 15 pounds per square inch, and we repeat the process, and the screens should have about the proper tension at around 20-22 lbs. per square inch tension, creating a taut screen that will deliver a good, clean print.

Once the screen is tensioned and attached to a frame, we typically use a fabric tape to tape around the edges of the frame, both inside and out. This is a semi-permanent solution to having ink leak out around the edges of the emulsion.

Photo Sensitive Emulsion

On-Screen Printing Now the screen is ready for the photo sensitive emulsion, which is applied with a scoop coater, a variable length tray that emulsion is poured into. After applying the emulsion to the screen, we move the screen to a flat, curtained drying/storage cabinet, where it dries. Different systems of coated screen storage will dry the coated screens at different rates, but ours are usually ready to expose within a couple of hours unless we put a fan on them.

Post Emulsion and Moving to a Vacuum Frame

Once the emulsion-coated screens are dry, we can now place the film on the print side of the screen, in reverse, tape it in place, and move it to a vacuum frame. The vacuum frame has a large piece of glass upon which the screen is placed, print side against the glass. A “blanket” is placed over the screen frame, and a vacuum motor engaged, and the screen is pressed tight against the glass.

The vacuum frame is now rotated to face an exposure light, which is typically on a timer. The light is turned on, and the photo sensitive emulsion is exposed, but the areas that are behind the film positive remain susceptible to water. After the set amount of time, typically 6 to 10 minutes, the light will turn off, and the vacuum frame rotated back to laying flat, the pressure released, and the screen removed and moved to a washout tank.

Moving to a Washout Tank

There are semi-automated washout tanks which, once you put the screen into it, it will expose the image with water in a short amount of time. At this point we allow the screen to dry, and we’re ready to place it on the screen printing press.

After Checking for Pin Holes

After making sure there are no pin holes (if there are, we use a blockout emulsion to fill them in), we tape the edges to make sure ink won’t leak out around the edges of the print (more of an issue on a clamshell press than one that lifts up and down, leaving the screen flat at all times). We line up the substrate, put in blockers, micro-adjust the screen to the substrate, and we’re ready to print.

The biggest weakness of screen printing is that we have to make a new screen for every color printed, making the set up time for screen printing quite time consuming. However, because the printing process is very fast, if there are a large quantity of signs or decals or banners, etc.

Screen Printing Itself

Next, we pour ink onto the screen, and print whatever it is we’re printing, say, bumper stickers or car window decals or stickers, or window sticker for a business, or signs, or whatever our clients order.

After printing, the excess ink is scooped back into the ink bucket, and the screen removed to a washout tank, degreased, and prepped to repeat the process again.

Dye Sublimation Printing

dye sub printer Dye sublimation printing of displays and banners is virtually always done on polyester fabric because the chemistry of polyester is suited to dye sub printing. The chemistry involved in dye sublimation printing is fascinating to me, not just because it’s a complex process, but because the end result is by far the most perfect printing of cloth banners, posters, and displays available.

The Dyes

There are four dyes  involved, similar to an inkjet printer. The color coding for dye sublimate printing is a bit different that the CMYK printing that inkjet printers perform. The code for the dyes is CMYO (cyan magenta yellow overprint clear).

The Printing Process

These dyes are printed on a special transfer paper, then removed from the printer and matched up with an oxford, satin, knit, or other polyester material and sent through heated rollers at approx.. 400F combined with the pressure of the rollers. In this process, the dye converts to a gas, and with the aid of the heat and pressure, becomes fused with the polyester fibers, and creates an absolutely gorgeous print (assuming the dyes and polyester are good quality).

Click here for screen printing and dye sublimation printing of graphic displays and the like.


Dye Sublimation Fabric Printing – THE Best Print Quality


Dye Sublimation Vs. Toner-Based, Liquid Inkjet, Solid Ink, and UV Printing Processes

Question:  What print technology produces the highest quality text and graphics? Toner-based, liquid inkjet, solid ink, dye sublimation, thermal, or UV printers?

Digital Printing That’s a very complex question. Off the cuff, dye sublimation would be my first answer, but that’s not very thorough of an answer because there are different substrates for different uses, and each has it’s own special ink set.

For instance, if you need a polyethylene OSHA warning sign, you are not going to be using dye sublimation printing. You’ll either screen print or use a flatbed digital printer, most likely an inkjet printer that uses liquid solvent inks. If you need a lot of signs, screen printing will probably be the most cost effective printing method, unless it is a 4 color process print.

Vinyl Printed Graphics

Vinyl decals and graphics are another item that has a few options for printing, including thermal dye sublimation printing, although it is only good for very small orders as it’s quite expensive compared to screen printing or digital inkjet printing.

Fabric Substrates

How about fabrics like nylon or cotton? Screen-printing is generally considered the best option, although different inks are used on nylon than on cotton or other fabrics generally used for shirts and such.

However, for sheer printing beauty, when required, there is nothing, in my opinion, that touches dye sublimation printing on fabric banners, posters, or displays. The continuous tone printing cannot, at this time, be matched by any other method of printing.

Brief Explanation of Dye Sublimation Printing

Continuous tone printing is accomplished with the dye sublimation process. Using the CMYO (cyan magenta yellow overprint clear), the dye is printed on a transfer paper. Then once the paper is printed, it is matched up to whichever fabric the client has ordered – banner, oxford, satin, outdoor, stretch – and sent through heated rollers at about 400F.

As the fabric and transfer paper go through this heat/pressure combination, the dye printed on the paper is converted from a solid to a gas instantaneously, and is fused to the fabric in a continuous tone print, similar to a photograph.

How Dye Sublimation is Different

The difference between most printing and dye sublimation fabric printing is that most printing, including screen printing, and all types of digital printing, use a dot pattern to create color, whereas dye sublimation cloth printing has a continuous tone, just like pictures that you get developed from your camera.

So, I guess that means that my first answer is correct, at least for fabric printing. The other substrates are good for certain things, but for the classiest look in printing, you will want to definitely consider dye sub fabric printing.

One other BIG Advantage of Dye Sublimated Fabric Displays

One other plug for dye sub printed displays – if you are at a competitive trade show, or similar, and your competitors have some nice graphics on vinyl or the like, and you show up with your continuous tone printed fabric display, you are going to win the subliminal war. Face it, if your display looks rich, and theirs looks middle-class, they’ll get some clients, maybe lots, but you’ll land the best clients at better margins.

Go here to view more about Dye Sublimation Fabric Printing. You can also leave your comments down below if you have anything more to share or questions you might have.


How Does Dye Sublimation Cloth Banner Printing Work?


Dye Sublimation Printing – The Process, Inks, and Fabrics Used

Question: How does sublimation printing work?

“Traditional” dye sublimation printing of cloth/fabric uses a print process that employs heat to transfer ink – or dye – onto synthetic fabrics or other materials.

Sublimation simply means that the dyes convert from a solid state to a gaseous state, although never becoming liquid. The process was developed to be able to transfer photographs and highly intricate designs onto fabric or cloth.

In our business, we print banners and fabric using dye sublimation mainly for banners or displays. The dye sublimation that we use uses heat and pressure to transfer designs to polyester fabrics mainly.

Dye Sublimation Printers

CMYK Print Colors Most dye sublimation printers use CMYO printing colors (Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Overcoating) which is different from inkjet banner printing (on vinyl or fabric) which uses CMYK (cyan-magenta-yellow-black) because the black is eliminated and the clear overcoat is used instead.

This overprint is both a UV protectant and helps to create a water-resistant coating for polyester banners and displays, t-shirts, table covers, sportswear, flags, and other items that require high definition printing.

Traditional dye sub printing utilizes a transfer paper which is printed with the CMYO inks in reverse, then, using a heated pressure roller at around 375F, “marries” the paper to the polyester fabric, and converts the dye to gas, and transfers the image onto the banner or other cloth.

Post Printing Process

After printing, this fabric can be washed without damaging the quality of the printing. Other advantages of dye sublimation fabric banner and display printing is that the images don’t peel or fade (permanency), the colors can be brilliant due to the amalgamation of the dye to the fibers of the polyester or other synthetic fabric.

Another major advantage of dye sub printing is that the colors can be brilliant due to the continuous tones that make the printing appear photographic. These images also can be printed all the way to the edges of the fabric.

Printing a dye sub banner is slower than other printing methods, which is why the cost can be higher for fabric banners. It is also more difficult if the material creases as it leaves blank spots.

Where to Use Dye Sublimated Printed Displays

Uses for dye sublimation printed graphics are varied, but one of the most popular uses for these fabric displays is as tradeshow graphics. This may include, but not be limited to, table top displays, pop up displays, roll up or pop up banner stands, flat panel displays, hanging banner displays, or a multitude of other types of displays utilizing printed cloth/fabric.

If you are budgeting for your tradeshow display, locate and contact a competent dye sub fabric printer, provide detailed measurements if needed, and the graphics you wish printed. Most printers will provide a small prototype of your printed banner if they are reputable. This will give you the peace of mind needed to proceed with your project, knowing you’ll get exactly what you ordered.

Major Advantage of Dye Sublimated Fabric Banners

Note that if you use fabric banners or graphics for your booth, you will be separating yourself from the competition who may be using cheaper graphics, thus making themselves look cheap. No one wants a cheap company – just a cheap price with great services or products. Good luck!

You can view here for tradeshow displays that can be printed through dye sublimation.


How to Use Dye Sublimation Printing and Find a Good Printer


Printing From Dye-Sublimation Dyes to Regular Inks, & Finding a Good Dye Sub Printer

Question:  Can a printer be used for Dye-Sublimation after already having been used with regular inks?

No. The two types of printers are mutually exclusive to the types of material that are being printed.

First, traditional dye sublimation printing of cloths and fabrics is done with a CMYO ink set, which is different from CMYK. The CMYO (“O” stands for the clear overprint) printing is printed to a transfer paper, and then applied to the fabric using heat and pressure. The “O” then becomes the black, so the net result is CMYK.

Newer dye sub printers use a CMYK print configuration as they are direct-to-fabric printing, but they are still different inks than what you would print vinyl banners or decals with. The chemical formulation of the inks used for direct dye sub printing are specifically for synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester.


Question: Hi. I’m looking for suggestions on a dye sublimation printer?

dye sub printer Are you looking for the printer itself, or are you looking for a printer that prints using dye sublimation?

Unit of Printer

I’ll answer both questions. First, if you want a printing unit, I would suggest only looking at Japanese or Korean printers, and stay away from the rest. This would include many good makes, including Seiko, Mimaki, and Canon, to name a few.

Avoid these Printers

Secondly, I would steer clear of printers that use the older method of dye sub printing as elucidated in the above question. Direct-to-fabric or cloth dye sublimation printing is much less complicated with much less chance for expensive errors.

How to Find that Dye Sublimation Printer

Now, if you’re looking for a dye sublimation fabric or cloth banner or display printer, a company that actually does the printing, this will be a different subject, as you’re talking about the company itself as well as the printers they use.

First, ask what printers are being used. Printers manufactured, for instance, in India or China are currently simply not up to snuff when it comes to print quality. The inks are sub-par, which in turn creates sub-par appearing banners. I’ve seen this first hand, and it’s not pretty.

Second, the quality of the company itself should be investigated. Google the name of the company, and go at least 10 pages deep on Google. If there are no complaints on consumer watchdog sites like the Better Business Bureau website, or sites like or, then you can predict that this is a good company.

If there is a complaint, though, do read the company point of view. There are ocassional clients who have unrealistic expectations, and no one could please them. This reminds me of my friend and colleague, Bob, who had a client who wanted his colors to be super specific. After several tries at printing the right color, Bob, exasperated, finally said to the client, “John, I simply cannot get any closer than this to the color you want!” To which John responded. “Oh, OK….well, I’m color-blind anyway, so just go with these colors then! Doh!

One Last Thing to Do

The last thing you can do, when seeking a company to work with, is to request samples. Some companies will send them free of charge, while others will charge a nominal fee to print the file on the correct banner fabric ahead of time, then refund the fee when the order is placed. And some simply charge for a prototype, with nothing refunded on the order. You can choose which company you prefer when going through the quote process.

Check this out for dye sub printing of banners of vinyl and fabric types. Also, feel free to leave your thoughts or any questions you have on the comment form below.


Dye Sublimation Printing of Fabric Explained in Simple Terms


Trade Show Booth Designs – Differences between Flags & Banners – Are Banners Fire Resistant – Durability of Dye Sub Fabric Displays

Question: What are the basic styles of fabric construction for tradeshow exhibit booths?

trade show booth

That is a very broad question. Kind of like how do you build a house? But let’s give it a whirl.

Most fabrics that are used for trade show displays are a polyester knit fabric with a small amount of a stretchy material called lycra in it to promote stretchiness.

Why would you want stretchy polyester fabric for your tradeshow display? First, it does print very nicely when using the dye sublimation printing method. Dye sublimation is the transfer of ink from a carrier paper to synthetic fabrics (most typically polyester or nylon) using heat and pressure, although more recently, direct-to-fabric dye sub printing has become very popular due to it’s comparative speed and ease of production compared to the heat/pressure method.

Secondly, dye sublimation printing for tradeshow displays on stretchy materials will give you a banner or fabric that will conform to varying shapes of displays, and all without wrinkles. This is why sublimation fabric banner prints have become immensely popular with many companies seeking to out-pull the competition with dynamite cloth banners.


Question: What is the difference between a banner and a flag?

Mainly usage and finishing.

A flag is typically mounted vertically on a pole, whether using metal grommets or a sewn pole pocket or other fastening styles. Flags are most often used outdoors on vertical poles. They are most often constructed of nylon or polyester, similar to dye sublimation printed cloth banners.

Cloth banners, as well as vinyl banners, can be used for decoration (as can flags), advertising (more effective than flags), and are typically hung from a horizontal axis – the top of the banner rather than the side of a flag. Banners are also typically larger than flags, as they are often tacked to the side of a wall or across a street.

The largest flags sold “off the shelf” would be flags such as the 20’ x 30’ US Flag, but very few facilities can afford the cost of the gargantuan flag pole that would fly this flag. Most flags are 18’ x 12’ and smaller, whereas many banners are this size or larger.


Question: Can banner fabric be made fire resistant?

Yes. You simply need to specify, if your specifications require fire retardency as part of the makeup of your dye sub cloth or fabric banner, that a banner or banners you’re ordering are going to need to be fire retardant. This is becoming increasingly common, particularly in areas that are expecting large crowd of people.

The cloth banner material is treated in the manufacturing process with a fire retardant spray, and then sent to printers who print fire retardant banners as specified by the client.


Question: How long will my dye sublimation printed fabric banners last?

That will depend on how your using them. If you order an outdoor fabric banner, it is likely that you could get two to three years out of it, if it is not in a high wind area, it is not always being beaten upon by the sun, and small children are not able to jump up and hang from it.

Indoors, if there is not too much sunlight coming in from skylights or large windows, these cloth dye sub banners could last even longer. The good news with dye sub printing is that the ink is sublimated into the fabric. The bad news is that ink, of any type, will fade over time in the sunlight. But you should still get many months of good usage from your banners.

For more about dye sublimation printed fabric banners, check hereIf you got questions, you can leave them on the comment form below.


Wind Load Ratings for Flags and Street Pole Banners


Choosing the Right Pole – Flag Size Matters plus Wind Load Ratings for Light Pole Banners

Question: How do you choose the right size flag for different pole heights?

If you are speaking of national or state flags, there is a specific formula for each flag pole.

Wind Speed

First, wind speed is the the first consideration. Regionally, the West Coast of the US is considered the lowest wind area, base on a 50 year high wind speed at 30 feet above ground, times 30% for wind gusts. So, if you want a 12’ x 18’ flag in Seattle, WA, it will need to be determined whether the flag pole you want to use can withstand an 85 mph wind x 1.3, or 111 mph winds.

Miami, on the other hand needs to be rated at 150 mph winds time 1.3, or 195 mph winds. They have more hurricanes in Florida than happens in Seattle.  Maybe I could write a new song…”in Harborton, Hampton, and Hillsboro (OR), hurricanes hardly happen” (apologies to Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady).

Wall Thickness of the Pole

Banners and flags

The next consideration is the wall thickness of the pole itself. As the height of pole goes up, the wall thickness will also increase. For instance, a 20’ pole, wind-rated for 120 mph while flying a 5’ x 8’ flag, will have an aluminum wall thickness of .188”; a 60’ pole will increase to a wall thickness of .25” to retain the same rating for the 120 mph wind with a 12’ x 18’ flag. And an 80’ flagpole, flying a 20’ x 30’ flag, will lose some wind speed rating to 105 mph, even though the wall thickness is now .375”.

The Size of the Flag

Finally, as indicated above, the size of the flag will also be reflected in the wind load rating. The larger the size, the more pull the wind will put on the pole. The sizes indicated above are the maximum size recommended for the stated pole sizes.

The Base of the Pole

The other factor will be the amount of ballast around the base of the pole. This will include concrete, the pole sleeve, and sand (and a little bit of mastic to keep the water from saturating the sand in the pole sleeve).

The company you purchase your flag and flag pole from will give you the proper calculations (usually in cubic yards) for the amount of pre-mixed concrete you’ll need to use to make sure the pole you select will give you the right amount of ballast weight for wind speed required by your state, municipal or county regulations.


Question:  How do you install banners and flags on lamp poles?

Typically you’ll use either a single arm or double arm horizontal pole that’s attached to light pole or similar. There are fixed arm pole banner mounting arms and flexible arms.

Most pole banners are no larger than 36” x 72”, so the wind load is not the same as the flag poles discussed previously, but there can still be significant wind load on these banners. Generally, the top of these flags is no more than 20 feet above the ground, but if you have two 3 foot by 6 foot banners attached to a pole, watch out…you have a close equivalent 6 foot by 6 foot flag. Make sure the pole you’re attaching these banners to are able to withstand this type of wind, and if not, you may want to consider purchasing the spring-loaded arm type banner pole arms that will flex with the wind to release a strong wind load.


Choosing the Right Fabric for Your Dye Sublimated Cloth Banner


Various Cloth Fabric Items Suitable For Banner Printing

Question:  There are a lot of fabric choices when selecting a banner fabric. What factors should I consider?

This is a very good question, and one which we have some very valuable experience in. First off, let me congratulate you for your intelligent choice in selecting fabric banners. For the price, which is about what vinyl banners cost per square foot in the 90’s, these banners make whatever you’re doing look far more polished and professional than any vinyl banner could accomplish.

The Look of the Fabric Banner

Cloth banners designed with superheroes The first factor, in our opinion, is how it looks. Of course, the cloth banners that are available now are almost always dye sublimation printed cloth banners, and if the printer and the ink are high quality (generally the printers are made in S. Korea or Japan, and the inks are from Europe, the US, or Japan), the print itself shouldn’t be an issue.

Part of the look of any fabric banner will be heavily influenced by the fabric itself. There are satin fabrics that have a sheen to them, which is a very nice look. There are fabrics that are sheer, like a privacy curtain (so named because they really don’t make a room private, but they do make whatever you see kind of hazy). There are mostly opaque materials that are a heavier polyester. These are popular because they don’t wrinkle easily.

The Wrinkle Factor

I am not a big fan of many of the fabrics because of the wrinkle factor. The satins have a real issue with developing “perma-wrinkles” in the shipping process, as a lot of these banners come thousands of miles before being hung up. The sheer materials also can have this issue. The soft polyester, however, rarely has this issue.

The good thing about these polyester or nylon fabrics is that they can be washed and dryed, so it is possible to wash all but the most stubborn wrinkles out. Still, we have a disclaimer for those wanting these materials that we are NOT responsible for wrinkles!

The Lack of Opacity

As touched on earlier, opacity or lack of opacity will be a factor you want to consider. If you need a double-sided banner, typically you’ll have two single sided banners sewn together with a layer of lightweight dark or black fabric between the two sides. This prevents shadowing if there is a bright light or natural light behind the display.

The Stretchability Factor

Another factor is “stretchiness.” If your fabric banner needs to fit onto a frame or display of some sort, you may need a polyester fabric with some lycra in it to give it a bit of stretchability so it will fit tightly on a frame. It is unlikely, in most cases any more, that you’ll find anything other than polyester or nylon fabric being used to cover tradeshow displays.

If you are hanging dye sub cloth banners or posters in a retail environment, a satin or lighter weight polyester knit fabric may be just what you need. Fabric posters are becoming increasingly common in upscale department stores and chain specialty clothing stores. Even some of the “big box” home improvement centers have jumped on the bandwagon and ordered some cloth banners for aisle displays.

How about the Cost Factor?

Is cost a factor to consider if you’re leaning toward dye sublimate fabric banners? Not really. Most of the fabrics have similar price per square meter or square foot. The satin is not much different than a knit which is not much different than a sheer, although level of difficulty to print some materials may affect the cost to some degree.

See here for custom printing of and more facts about polyester cloth flags and banner displays.


What You Need to Know When Designing an Outdoor Sign


Factors to Consider when Purchasing an Outdoor Sign

Question:  Are there any special considerations when designing an Outdoor Display?

Absolutely yes. This is a pretty broad question in the way it’s stated, but let me give you some pointers on a couple different displays that would be used out-of-doors.

Signs, large signs, main I.D. signs for businesses, billboards would be one broad category. So what considerations would we give when giving you advice on these types of signs?

Durability of the Material

First, durability is a concern, as you don’t want to replace a sign real soon, as these types of signs can easily cost $10K to $100K and more. You’ll need to select a company with a good reputation bolstered by some good testimonials. If it’s a local firm, people that you can call, or even go look at their signs.

The Quality of the Material

The materials are important. If it’s an internally illuminated sign, what is the cabinet made of? Aluminum? Good choice, but expensive. Galvanized steel wrapping an angle iron frame is probably currently the most popular as the cost is lower than aluminum. It is also a durable material. We approve!

The Face of the Signage

For the face, you can use an impact resistant acrylic, either back-sprayed with a special paint, or decorated with digitally printed translucent graphics, which is becoming more and more popular with many shops who don’t want to have to mess with an EPA-approved spray booth and all the governmental requirements that go with the less expensive method.

However, I personally would recommend polycarbonate plastic faces that go by several brand names and come on rolls – usually around 76” and 100” or thereabouts, depending on the manufacturer. Polycarbonate plastic is virtually unbreakable, and is the same material “bulletproof” glass and airliner windshield “glass” is made from. We approve!

The Graphic Design

Large Format Billboard Display Of course, there are graphical considerations as well. Face it, you might hire me personally to write a decent marketing piece, a brochure, or come up with some good verbiage for your sign, but you don’t want me designing your sign, because, well, I suck at it! So whomever you retain to build your main ID sign should have a competent or better graphic designer on staff.

However, do not let the graphic designer have overall control of the way the sign will look. They’re great for making signs attractive, but they’re rarely good marketers, and the message may get lost in the design.

When you are having your main ID sign designed, you need to look at the location where the sign goes. Is it on a street where the speed limit is 35mph, or fronting an interstate highway where traffic whizzes by at 75mph. Either way, your traffic has just enough time to glance at your sign, so make your info brief and to the point.

If you’re not a major brand company, say your company is Joe’s Carpet Cleaning, you may want to have a graphic of a person cleaning a carpet, “Joe’s Carpet Cleaning,” and” More than that will be more than people have time to read.

Phone numbers are a pet peeve of mine on main ID signs. Numbers are hard to remember. Websites are not. Here’s a test. Do you remember 534-2366 or more easily? Most people remember the latter more easily. You can always go to the site and find the phone number.

So now you can purchase your main ID sign with confidence. A good company. Quality Materials. Good references. A good design department. And a sign that’s easy to read. Your business should have a good shot at success if you’re any good at all!

Wide Format Billboard Signs

Another type of outdoor display sign that we are all familiar with is the billboard. Billboard signs are typically about 48’ x 16’ in our area, and most are owned by large firms that specialize in building the large structures, then renting out the space on these giant ads.

A billboard is similar, though, in design, if you want your advertising to be successful.  Most billboards have about a 5 second read time at best. Again, less is more when it comes to these signs. A succinct message like “Lose 40lbs by May” and a website “, and here, maybe a toll free number. Keep it simple, and if you have something people want, they’ll go to your website or call. These signs can be an amazing generator of business if they’re done right.

For custom-made outdoor signs, view this. You can also leave any questions you have in the comment form below. I will take the time to answer them.


Why Fabric Banners Look Better on Banner Stands than Vinyl


Using Fabric Instead of Vinyl on Banner Stands, & How to Remove Wrinkles from Cloth Banners

Question: Why are fabric graphics, rather than vinyl graphics, used for most premium banner stands?

Generally speaking, fabric is lighter and lays better than vinyl, or PVC banners. Hence, it rolls better inside a pop up banner stand or roll up banner stand and it doesn’t tend to get permanent wrinkles like vinyl will.

Tradeshow Vinyl Banners There are other materials available for roll up banners as well that are decent quality such as polyethylene and plasticized papers, but when it comes to the premium stands that companies who want the best graphics for a tradeshow they’re attending, fabric is going to be the best option.

The other main reason, as I hinted at in the last paragraph, is that fabric just looks better, and richer. Dye sublimation printing of cloth banners creates vivid colors with a soft, textured look that vinyl simply can’t match. Even though the digital or screen printing looks great on many vinyl banners, the fact that the banner is plasticky-looking defeats the purpose for indoor and tradeshow graphics.

Out-of-doors, it’s really no big issue either way, and vinyl is our choice in most outdoor applications. It’s weather resistant (so are the outdoor fabrics), washable (so are outdoor fabric banners), and wind-resistant (outdoor cloth banners are as well).

So why would we recommend them over fabric out-of-doors? Mainly price, because the average person walking by a vinyl banner or a cloth banner either won’t see that there is a difference, and if this person does see that there is a difference, it won’t likely cast a negative light on the advertiser as it might in an indoor tradeshow situation or the like where subconsciously, the cheaper look of vinyl may reflect on the advertising company itself.


Question: What about wrinkles in tension fabric pop-ups and how do we eliminate them?

Fabric Banner with Wrinkles Using higher quality fabric banner material will usually eliminate this problem. The difficulty with wrinkling material often comes from a desire to save money, and therefore companies pay the cheapest price, then are surprised to get subpar graphics.

There are other products besides pop up fabric banners that can be used with roll up banner displays, such as durable plasticized papers and various non-curl plastics. However, as I stated in the previous answer, fabric will always look richer and better and will reflect that way on your company as well.

It will also help, assuming the material used for your roll up banners is of good quality, to take care when rolling up the material not to roll wrinkles into it. If you’re using tension pop up banner stands, then make sure when you fold the material, it is not compressed in that state or it may tend to get some hard wrinkles.

If there are lots of wrinkles, you can use a steam iron to iron the wrinkles out…take care to test the temperature of the iron on the backside of one corner before you ruin the banner with too much heat. Most fabric banners are also washable, so if you wash the banner then hang it dry or dry it on low heat, pulling it out when it’s close to dry and hanging it the rest of the way dry, that may also get rid of the wrinkles.

To find wholesale 100% polyester silk fabric graphic displays, see here.


Dye Sublimation Vs. Screen Printing of Fabric and Vinyl Banners


Screen Printing Polyvinyl and Fabric Items Versus Dye Sublimation Printing Cloth Fabric Banners

Question: What types of materials are banners made of?

This is a good question and is quite simple on the surface, although there are many variations within each category.

The two main categories of banner materials: vinyl (PVC) and fabric or cloth banners. That’s the easy answer.

However, it is helpful to know the variations within each category, so I’ll start with the vinyl banner category first, as it’s simpler, I think.

Vinyl Banners

Advertising Banner With a Stand First off, PVC or vinyl banners come to us as roll stock, and we either screen print (becoming less common), or digitally print these banners on a wide format digital printer.

There are several weights available, the most common being (at least in our shop) 10 oz., 13 oz., 15 oz., and 18 oz. The ounces refers to the weight of the banner per square yard of material. The heavier the weight, the more durable, although installation methods are often of utmost importance in the life of any outdoor vinyl banner.

With these materials, most are also available with a blockout layer between the sides that allows us to print both sides of the material without having a shadow show through the back side.

Another type of vinyl banners is the mesh vinyl banner, which is a perforated material that is printed with a backing sheet on it to prevent ink from spraying all over the printing platen on the digital printer. This material allows a certain amount of wind to pass through it, thus reducing the wind load from 10 to 20% on average.

Cloth or Fabric Banners

The second main category is fabric banners, which are most frequently made using polyester, nylon, or other synthetic fabrics. Most of these banners are currently printed using a printing method called dye sublimation printing.

Some street banners and cloth banners are also screen printed if the volume of printing justifies setting up the screens to do so, or the print shop specialized in street banners created by screen printing.

Dye sublimation digital printing of banners is one of my personal favorite advertising graphics to sell. It is very classy compared to vinyl banners, so much so that they have taken over the high end trade shows as the banner of choice, at least for companies that don’t want to appear cheap.

The dye sub print process uses heat and pressure to transfer the CMYO print from the transfer paper to the synthetic fabric itself. Over the past few years, digital direct to substrate dye sublimated printing has started to take over the fabric banner industry because it has less steps involved in printing a banner using dye sublimation that the heat and pressure method. I.e., it’s faster and cheaper to produce, so many printers are switching to this type of printer for those reasons.

Within the fabric category, the main differences you’ll find is in the materials. There are dye sublimate printed satin fabric banners, stretchy fabric banners (polyester with Lycra or the like), outdoor polyester banners, acrylic banners, and nylon banners. There are polyester fabrics that are sheer, look like cotton, or any number of variations.

So, as you can see, there are many options for printed fabric banners available, whether they use the traditional dye sublimation printing method or the DTS (direct to substrate) printing method. Or screen printing. Lots of ways to produce a fabric banner, and for interior use, I personally would almost always recommend dye sub printed cloth banners.


© Copyright 2016, Visigraph