By Melissa Donovan
Marketers recognize the appeal of a printed textile promoting a brand or serving as a color backdrop in a retail space, trade show, or other environment. Textiles provide a luxurious look and feel that enhances the appearance of the graphic. One of the more popular display forms adapted for fabrics are silicone edge graphics (SEG) frames.
Three basic components comprise an SEG system—the fabric, a flat silicone strip, and the frame. The strip, sometimes referred to as keder, corresponds to the groove in a frame or stand. The graphic is popped into that groove. Frame manufacturers focus on creating uncomplicated extrusion technologies for users. The goal, make it easy to quickly and efficiently change out graphics.
The Attractiveness of SEG
The popularity of SEG framing systems is based on their light weight and versatility. Both features make the solution applicable to a number of different environments, with options growing as more print service providers (PSPs) become familiar with the application.
Most SEG frames are constructed from aluminum, which is a lighter weight than other metals. In addition, it does not use as much of the metal component throughout the configuration of the frame—making it weigh less. “SEG frames are popular because they are much lighter than standard frame designs, allowing very large format graphics to be installed in locations where it would have previously been a challenge to use a standard graphic frame and/or very expensive to do so,” explains Connie Macias, sales manager, DSA Phototech.
Shipping and handling is also simplified thanks to SEG frames’ lighter weight. The cost to transport a graphic based in one of these systems is significantly less compared to other displays. The combination of a less dense frame and the lighter fabric lowers the weight and subsequently the cost.
The design of the frame makes it easy to pop the graphics in and out, which offers versatility to PSPs and more importantly their customers or the end users. “Graphics are easily changed to keep the message fresh and dynamic and because this can be done by retail staff, there are virtually no on-site installation costs. These frames are a terrific long-term revenue producer for printers. An investment in one frame can trigger repeat sales of new replacement prints, a potential annuity for years to come,” recommends Steven Hegseth, president, Direct LED Frames.
“Graphics are an easy do-it-yourself install for a taut drum-like fit and SEG fabric can be swapped out for multiple messages or events,” agrees Gustavo Correa, VP sales and marketing, North America Display Corporation (NADC).
While the configuration of an SEG system allows graphics to be easily and frequently changed, the frame construction is also versatile. “Modular systems can be customized to exact sizing and shaping needs, and their popularity is boosted because they use fabric graphics that are high end and provide a clean, modern look,” suggests David Nanamaker, national sales manager, Expand International of America.
“There are also many frame types available, from banners to poster frames to inline exhibit back walls, kits, counters and kiosks, which are offered in illuminated and non-illuminated options, making it easy to find a solution that will fit a variety of needs and environments,” adds Natalie Whited, VP of marketing, Orbus Exhibit & Display Group.
Because of their light weight and versatility, SEG systems are increasingly found in environments like upscale retail stores, museums, trade shows, offices, airports, theaters, restaurants, and commercial buildings.
“Both illuminated and unlit versions are popular in environments where the highest quality graphic, brand, and logo reproduction is desired,” says Paula Goodelman, VP sales, Testrite Visual.
SEG frames aren’t just for driving brand awareness, according to Ed Casadonte, sales, and Debbie Crouch, purchasing manager, Outwater Plastics Industries Inc. “Industries like hotels, restaurants, and commercial office buildings are using SEG frames to create murals and decorations for their walls,” they share.
Understanding the System
Ease of use is decidedly one of the most attractive features of an SEG frame. Assembling the frame and graphic does not involve a high level of difficulty even if the installer is unfamiliar with the construction of the frame.
“Unlike other systems that may have many different ways to install graphics, there is only one way to install the SEG— inserting the silicone strip into the groove of the frame,” shares Nanamaker. A successful installation is evident when the graphic tautly runs across the face frame for a wrinkle-free appearance.
Macias admits SEG frame technology is fairly straightforward—as long as a printer is given accurate frame specifications, a fabric graphic sized to fit the frame can easily be created. DSA provides its customers a sample frame for testing to ensure the fabric graphics can be scaled.
That’s not to say all SEG frames are created equal. “There are different frame shapes and depths, which are utilized for different sizes and uses,” points out Nicole Wilson, GM, Tex Visions. PSPs should be aware of the variations. Tex Visions’ smallest frame depth is only used for wall mounting, as larger sizes can’t be supported. Larger sizes are used for freestanding floor displays.
In addition, it’s important to note that while the practice of placing the keder in the frame is similar for all systems, the creation of the frames themselves and their interlocking hardware may vary. NADC offers corner brackets that when turned with a hex key securely hold the sides of a frame together. Orbus provides extrusion frames that assemble with twist-and-lock connectors or by expanding a collapsible display and attaching channel bars.
For PSPs unfamiliar with SEG frames, a few features should be taken into account that are normally not considered when working with traditional framing systems.
“Factors include channel width, material thickness and stretch, and the thickness of the silicone beading that is applied to the edges. Depending on the intended use for the SEG frame system, material thickness may vary. Non-illuminated displays may require a thicker material than illuminated displays for the best results, and channel depth may also vary based on the application,” explains Whited.
Michael Kurilec, managing director, Expolinc Corporation, says the primary issue is fitting the graphic correctly. “If sizing is off in any manner, such as too small or too large, this adversely affects the quality of the SEG in the system,” he cautions.
In response to this issue vendors offer systems that eliminate even the smallest error in measurement and take into account the different levels of stretch in various fabrics—both factors that can cause a graphic’s sizing to be off. At Expolinc an ideal fit of the graphic in the frame is addressed with its patented spring loaded frame.
Designing a graphic for an SEG frame is different than when working with other framing systems that do not involve keders and grooves. Casadonte and Crouch explain that a printer must take into consideration the bleed necessary for the attachment of the silicone edging, which can be anywhere from three millimeters thick and 12 millimeters wide, and create a file with proper bleed marks.
Wilson also suggests considering the assembly and transport aspects of the display system. “SEG frames tend to be more stationary versus other displays because the setup is more time consuming than a traditional backdrop. However, they are long lasting and sturdy, so once the display is assembled, no upkeep is required.”
A Sizable Selection
Thanks to overwhelming demand, many manufacturers of extrusion technologies develop SEG framing systems in a variety of sizes and dimensions.
According to Kurilec, due to the light weight of the graphic, the size of frame can almost be limitless—within reason. He says the most popular sizes are eight to 20 feet high and eight to 20 feet wide.
“Large sizes are most popular, but also smaller frames provide maximum impact very efficiently,” says Hegseth. At Direct LED Frames, frames are available in any size and are expandable to unlimited sizes.
DSA offers frames as small as 10×10 inches and as large as 10×17 feet. The most commonly requested frame size is 36×48 inches, however Macias states that larger sizes measuring at least six feet in each direction are increasingly popular. Typical trade show booth sizes are 10×10 and 10×20 feet. Frames are designed to accommodate this. Nanamaker says Expand’s standard kits are usually designed to match these common booth dimensions.
Casadonte and Crouch argue that there isn’t really any “truly popular size” due to the endless options available. However, Outwater Plastics specifically offers SEG frames in 4×8-, 5×6-, 6×6-, or 8×10-foot sizes.
“Each style frame is utilized for a different purpose, so it’s hard to say. The smaller sizes are popular with clients because the frames ship assembled so they don’t have to take the time to set up the product. However, larger sizes make a statement as they’re highly visible and are sure to get noticed,” shares Wilson. Tex Visions’ most popular size frames range from 2×3 to 8×10 feet.
Customized displays outside of the traditional 10×20 feet are possible. “Non-standard shapes and sizes such as a peaked roof style back wall or angular cut outs to coincide with brand elements are extrusion-based modular frames that fit the needs while providing the desired edge to edge, taut appearance,” says Whited.
Demand for SEG Frames
SEG framing systems are found everywhere from retail stores to commercial office spaces. Their appeal is broad and variety even more inclusive. Manufacturers offer PSPs and end users a range of options from smaller scale frames to gigantic configurations to satisfy demand.
Oct2016, Digital Output