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Are Dye Sub Printed Fabric Banners Better Than Vinyl Banners?

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Dye Sublimation Printed Fabric  Banners Versus Vinyl Banners – Which is Better?

Question: Can you tell me why you think vinyl banners or cloth fabric banners are superior?

Answer: Yes, and no. They are both superior in certain applications, and both inferior in other applications. It would be similar, I think, to ask whether a car or a pickup truck is superior. The answer would be similar. Yes. And no.

Dye sublimation cloth graphic printing

A pickup truck is great if you need to haul a bed or a couch or a dresser or a fridge, but not as good to commute to your office job downtown or go on a date or drive cross country in comfort without needing to haul a heavy load (although still useable for these travel needs). A car is not too good on a muddy road in the winter, and knobby tires aren’t much fun to drive down the Interstate with. I could go on, but cars versus trucks aren’t what you asked about.

Vinyl  banners are a great “cheap” temporary sign solution, although fabric is not a lot more expensive any more. Vinyl looks good at a distance, and most exterior banners are made of vinyl, although this too is in a state of flux currently. Vinyl banners will usually weather quite well and stay looking good for 2-3 years, though I’ve seen them last 10 and still look decent.

Dye sublimation printed fabric banners have a stellar life span as well, and because the dye impregnates the cells of the polyester or other olefin based fabrics that are used in the dye sub printing process, these banners have great exterior longevity as well, and can last 20+ years indoors under fluorescent lighting with very little color fading.

Over the past few years, dye sublimation printing has moved out-of-doors to start to compete with other types of printed fabrics like pole banners that at one time were the domain of either vinyl or screen-printed acrylic fabrics.

Cartoon Graphic Cloth Printing

Personally, because I’ve been in this industry well over 20 years and have seen many products come along (and a few have come and gone during that time period as well), as any of you know who’ve read my blog know, I am a dyed-in-the-polyester (wool won’t work – it’s a natural fiber) fan of dye sublimation printing. I think digital “direct-to-substrate” (DTS or DTF) is great, but the look is just a bit less fabulous than dye sub printing which, because of the dye being converted to gas, creates a fabulous photograph-like continuous tone print, which is especially impressive on finer threaded fabrics like poly-silk or poly-satin.

However, I am not consigning the vinyl banner to the bin of past signs quite yet. I think it’ll be a long time (or maybe never) before the vinyl banner passes into oblivion. The vinyl banner has been around for decades, and because they can be printed cheap and fast and full color now, any business can use them to promote products, services, and events without pulling out the big checkbook (the small one will do).

Again, though, dye sublimation fabric printing prices are coming down, and in volume there is little cost difference between the two methods, and for a better looking banner now, dye sub fabrics are definitely the way to travel.

For more about dye sublimation printing on fabric banner displays, see here: www.visigraph.com/fabric-vinyl-cloth-banners/dye-sublimation-polyester-heavy-knit-fabric-banners/

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Barry K. Brown

Barry Brown has been in the Sign, Banner, Decal and Display Business for over 20 years. It isn't what he thought he'd do with his life, but he says he knows too much now to do anything else!

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