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Locating a Source for PVC or Vinyl Outdoor Banners


Vinyl and PVC Indoor or Outdoor Banners: Sources for High or Low Quantities

Where is the best place to purchase vinyl outdoor or indoor banners? Of course, I will always tell you, “Right here,” but to be fair to your question, I will give you your available options, as well as the pros and cons of each option.

First off, all PVC banners are usable indoors or out-of-doors. Because they are so popular as an inexpensive, comparatively, advertising medium, there simply has never been a reason to make the interior displays, and because the volume of materials that are used is so great, cost is hardly a factor between cheaper and vinyl materials, so most companies simply opt for PVC item because of its durability and flexibility.

Large format PVC Indoor Banner

There are three pre-dominant ways to produce this type of banner commercially. The first and original way was and is to screen print. Because set up costs tend to be higher with screen printing, this method was great for large quantities , but was never used for small quantities of for that reason.

Screen printing of vinyl outdoor banners involves setting up a separate screen for each print color, or a series of four screens for a full color graphic, and possibly more if a specific Pantone spot color is required. When larger displays and runs are required, the press size needed may eliminate many printers from being qualified to do this style of printing. Some screen press in-line units can be the size of a US football field, and the investment cost for this type of machinery is beyond many company’s financial ability to purchase.

However, first in the 1980’s, and then again in the 1990’s, two technological innovations were added to the printer’s repertoire of available banner creation methods. The first was the vinyl cutting plotter. This was my first introduction to the sign business in 1991, although the technology had been around for about 10 years at that time.

The vinyl plotter can cut just one color at a time, so a multi-color banner was/is necessarily done with spot colors only. This was a limitation that still left full color signs in the realm of the large order companies that could afford massive volumes, but most companies we serviced in the early ‘90’s were small and they got spot color banners. Still, you could buy a single one for cheap, and it fit the bill with a professional if not fancy look through the ‘90’s.

At the end of the 1990’s a new revolution hit the world…the wide format digital printer. It could lay down a beautiful full color graphic – for a one-off vinyl display. This revolutionized the PVC sign industry significantly, and while it has not yet gone the way of the dinosaur almost 20 years later, it’s days are definitely numbered, although the cutting plotter will likely remain as a standard tool for many more decades as it has been adapted to other parts of decal and sign manufacturing.

Many small shops now have wide format digital printers. While most small shops are limited in height to around 60 inches, larger and faster printers have snapped up the mid-range quantity market due to lower set up costs and ease of imprinting compared to the still competitive screen press  method – at the larger quantities.

If you’re a “big box store” buyer, you will likely deal with a broker who has worldwide printing company contacts or with a large printer you may have locally, whereas a smaller company will likely go to a smaller local or semi-local printer for smaller orders of banners. So basically, to answer a short question with a long answer, that’s your best way, most likely, to purchase outdoor vinyl banners. If you want to, CLICK HERE.


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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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