By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 2
Framing systems include anything from a snap-up or A-frame to roll-up banner stands and silicone edge graphic (SEG) frames. Advancements in material construction enable a high-end finish that provides durability and strength. Print service providers (PSPs) are presented with a range of options when it comes to putting the finishing touch on graphics that necessitate some type of frame support.
Keeping Up with the Competition
Despite graphics being printed and used as wallcoverings, floor graphics, and vehicle wraps; framing systems are still popular options for advertising.
Mike Morrison, national sales director, WS Display, lists some of the top reasons for framing systems continued use—ease of configuration, lightweight, stable structures, and familiarity.
Framing systems are highly recognizable to people in the industry in addition to the average consumer. Anyone can rely on a framing system to display their graphic. For example, Robert Rose, president, VersaFrame.com, points out that customers use frames in “medical facilities to display employee photos and certifications like pharmacist certifications. Schools, government, sports teams, restaurants, and corporate customers display information to familiarize clients and staff with their teams. It also helps organizations establish team ownership by showing the accomplishments and value of team members to build job satisfaction and team pride.”
“Frame systems are still popular because they are relatively easy to change and because of the overall cost of materials and labor when doing wall wraps,” say Ron Fuller and Kathy Rennie, owners, Tensioning Solutions.
Rick Hatton, business development manager, sign and graphics, Budnick Converting, says framing systems’ longevity is all due to one word—changeable. “The vast majority of signs are promotional in nature, and since promotions change frequently, end customers love display systems that are fast and easy to swap out new graphics.”
According to the team at Global Imaging, while applications like wallcoverings, floor graphics, and vehicle wraps are important players in advertising, “they are more permanent, static messaging that requires trained installers every time there is a changeout.”
On the flip side, graphics utilize framing systems, like SEG frames, because they are ideal “for dynamic graphics that can easily be changed out regularly by untrained individuals, including store clerks and general staff,” continues the Global Imaging team.
“With framing systems, graphics are easily changed to accommodate new advertising campaigns or branding changes without the expense of laborious removal. Specifically, framing systems that utilize SEG offer flexibility because of the ease of installation and fabric care,” agrees Patrick Carrig, VP of sales, Orbus Exhibit & Display Group.
Trending in Frames
Vendors notice multiple trends in regards to framing systems. Some of the top ones include simplicity in design and versatility.
Simplicity means less time to manufacture, set up, and break down—all without compromising on the quality of the frame. “Of all of the uses for framing systems, there are still many large exhibit structures being built, which command more storage space and have a much bigger shipping cost. These two factors really lend to the desire to find lighter, simpler, and more efficient solutions,” notes the team at Global Imaging.
“Our clients install our frames on everything from flat to textured walls and parking garages, where there is a need for a frame that can span open sections of the garages. Sign professionals look for a system that is easy to install and has few parts,” share Fuller and Rennie.
For a versatile frame, this can mean one of two things—the frame works with a variety of materials and/or the frame is modular. “End users want frames that will allow for the use of a variety of materials as well as modular solutions that can be repurposed many times to satisfy multiple design concepts. Modular framing solutions really justify any initial investment because customers aren’t reinvesting in a framing solution with every new design,” shares the team at Global Imaging.
Carrig notes a continued demand for both retractable banner stands and light boxes. “Retractable banner stands are certainly an affordable promotional display that you see practically everywhere—schools, retail environments, airports, and offices. We continue to see demand for light boxes as they can be wall mounted, freestanding, and suspended. These can also be used in corporate interiors, for retail applications, and for trade show events.”
Material and Color
There are options when it comes to framing systems from the type/structure all the way down to the material used and color. Popular materials include aluminum and plastic.
“Aluminum or other metal frameworks and bases are the most popular due to providing a sleek look and longevity/durability needs,” says Carrig.
VerseFrame.com’s aluminum framing system holds acrylic panels. “Our channels are aluminum extrusions, which are exclusive to our products. The extrusions are very durable and offer a clean, professional look for organizations of many types.
“Aluminum is very popular these days due to stability, sustainability, ease of use, and lightweight product. Availability with recycled product helps with the desire to stay as environmentally friendly as possible,” explains Morrison.
For SEG frames in particular, the team at Global Imaging says aluminum is standard. “Its appearance is elegant, the structure is very strong, and it offers sharp lines with multiple uses. It gives a very high-end finished look but still has simplicity and strength as an advantage when cutting and installing.”
Plastic is becoming popular since it addresses the aforementioned trends of simplicity and versatility. “Plastic checks these boxes and while it offers the advantage of being less expensive and lighter weight it still provides a channel for the graphic that is the focal point,” says the Global Imaging team.
To marry the best attributes of materials, some vendors offer hybrid framing systems. For example, Global Imaging pairs plastic and aluminum in its SEG frames as an option. This provides “increased strength, durability, and longevity while still being versatile, simple, and lighter weight than aluminum alone,” shares the Global Imaging team.
“A-frame signs were traditionally all metal or wood, but that has shifted almost completely to blow molded plastic. Snap frames are available in both aluminum and plastic. SEG frames have been exclusively aluminum in the past. We are changing that with our SEGDesign no-aluminum frames,” explains Hatton.
Color choices are abundant. “The overwhelming majority of wall mounted snap frames and SEG frames are silver or aluminum colored. Black, white, and gold are also seen in lesser numbers,” notes Hatton.
Anodized silver has always reigned supreme for SEG frames, but the team at Global Imaging says PSPs and the end user are looking for further customization, which is something that is now possible.
“Extrusions are being offered off the shelf in many colors, such as gold, yellow, blue, green, red, white, and black as well as custom colors to match project designs. Color further supports a customer’s ability to make their vision stand out and differentiate. It’s becoming a ‘must have’ in SEG framing,” shares the Global Imaging team.
Customized color requests such as these are accomplished with powder coating, notes Carrig.
From being apparent, to conversely, invisible, Fuller and Rennie, see a trend toward not being able to see the frame at all—especially with outdoor applications. “Two of our frames, the TS32 and TS44, allow for gallery wraps. We are considering offering a powder-coated option in black and white. Our customers prefer to let their banners be the main focus.
“Matte grey anodized is the typical go-to and in most cases, color is fairly irrelevant and the design desire is to cover the metal with graphics or LED tiles to emphasize the message for the client versus the metal,” adds Morrison.
Frames’ Continued Presence
Framing systems remain integral components in the graphic arts. PSPs are presented with choice when it comes to the type of frames, from physical setup to the material type and even color. The next article in this two-part series reviews framing systems from vendors interviewed here.
Mar2023, Digital Output