By Melissa Donovan
Point of purchase (POP) standees are a popular way to present rigid substrates in digital print. They often serve as traditional sign backdrops, but other instances allow them to become much more interactive, acting as furniture or intricate holders for a product. Today’s newest materials are manufactured to remain durable for the longest short-term promotions and withstand interaction from consumers.
Multiple types of rigid substrates with varying levels of durability are used to create POP standees. Lifesize cut outs of people or animals, furniture, literature or product holders, and other three-dimensional (3D) displays are configured into innovative solutions. Print service providers (PSP) savvy to the trend promote this as a unique form of marketing to customers who look for out-of-the-box options.
Just the Right Amount of Durability
Rigid substrates from aluminum to foamcore are available to PSPs. For POP standees, some of the most popular contain varieties of foamboard and paper-based, which includes corrugated. A common requirement for any type of substrate used in this application is that it provide stability.
Application and durability typically dictate substrate choice. Products that come in standard thicknesses of ½ and ¾ inches are preferred for long term and three-sixteenths of an inch thickness is ideal for short term, according to Tony Lampariello, national rigid media manager, Agfa Graphics.
“When graphic designers and fabricators are creating POP standees, selection of rigid substrates is most often dictated by the length of time the standee will be displayed, as well as its location,” adds Brandon Wyatt, marketing manager, 3A Composites USA.
3A Composites’ Fome-Cor board, a lightweight extruded polystyrene foam, is suggested for short-term seasonal POP. Gatorfoam, a polystyrene foamboard between two layers of wood fiber veneer laminate, is ideal for medium- to long-term displays requiring durability. Smart-X, a lightweight foamboard that consists of an all-plastic sheet constructed with an expanded polystyrene core and two layers of UV-resistant polystyrene, is positioned for long-term displays that benefit from not only durability but moisture- and UV-resistance as well.
Steve Loudin, president, Tricel Honeycomb Corporation, suggests the company’s Tripanel/50WDF for long-term applications. “It features the thickest clay coated white facing stock available. A 50-point skin takes more abuse in a retail environment than other similar products with much thinner facing stock.”
Think indoor or outdoor as well. “If it is for outdoor purposes, you have to consider PVC foamboard because it is more durable in the outdoors. If it is for short term, polystyrene foamboard and polypropylene hollow are the best options because they offer cost savings and are easy to transport,” explains Marcus Tam, marketing department, Eastsign International Ltd.
Free-standing displays, according to Roberto Rodriguez, president, DGS – Digital Graphic Systems, require thicker boards at least a half-inch thick including foamboard, honeycomb, and fluted polypropylene. “They are lightweight and have a nice surface finish for sharp images, easy to contour cut, and very stiff to keep a nice looking finished product,” he continues.
If the material is going to be turned into a holder of some sort, it must be able to take on the weight of the products being displayed in it. The Gilman Brothers Company’s Eaglecell, an all-paper honeycomb graphics board, is constructed with this in mind.
“The core is fabricated to form a series of triangular cells with a proprietary open core design engineered with 95 percent open space, making it lightweight, yet able to deliver I-beam like superior structural strength for carrying shear, bending, and compressive loads,” explains Bill VanHorn, director of sales, Gilman Brothers.
EnCore Products’ newest substrate is DuraPrime, a plastic board with high-impact polystyrene facers that offers the structural strength required for POP standees. Its MightyCore line of foamboard is also ideal because of its rigid, rock-solid center that makes it suitable for large fabricated pieces.
Another consideration when it comes to choosing a rigid substrate for POP is whether it can be easily and cleanly cut, especially into unique, complex shapes. This is a key requirement for standee applications, according to Ross Van Burkleo, senior sales manager, digital and wide format, Neenah Paper Inc. The Neenah conVerd Board portfolio is composed of a fiber composition that makes it easy to cut.
Robert Cunningham, branch manager, Calsak Plastics, agrees, citing corrugated polypropylene and styrene skinned foamboards as ideal for cutting. “They allow you to do scoring and folding for pop-up type standees and give you the ability to ship flat and assemble them on site.”
Oriam Green Ltd.’s Re-board is ideal specifically for this purpose. The paper-based board is 20 percent the weight of timber sheeting and cuts easily with a cutting table, according to John O’Reilly, director, Oriam Green.
Thanks to the durability and construction of today’s rigid materials, POP standees are made into a number of different configurations.
Lampariello says one common type of standee is informational/directional signage used in trade show halls. “The typical installation is the use of a heavy floor base with the substrate standing five to six feet tall,” he explains.
While standees are frequently used for wayfinding signage, they are taking off in other ways. “In-store options range from perimeter interior wall signage to lifesize displays with unique cutout and lighting systems, drawing attention to featured products in various store locations. Everything from 3D dinosaurs to honeycomb structure furniture as chairs and tables are now possible with affordable, flexible, recyclable board products,” shares VanHorn.
Unique furniture, promotional boxes, and display racks are other options, lists Van Burkleo.
Practical uses are also prevalent. Unlike other applications that might require additional materials to hold a graphic in place, substrates used for POP standees can also be utilized as the base. “Many are strong enough that not only can you cut any shape and design you desire, you can also cut the support leg with the same material,” suggests O’Reilly.
PhotoWorksGroup Inc., based out of Charlottesville, VA, recognizes the vast opportunity in rigid substrates when it comes to POP standees. The shop, founded in 1986 by Denise and Geoff Kilmer, operates out of a 15,000 square foot workspace with a staff of 17. A family affair, Geoff’s brother Mike joined the business in 1989 and in 2015 Denise and Geoff’s son Ben became the business development director.
Today the company works closely with customers in the Mid-Atlantic region to offer graphics for corporate interiors, college sports departments, trade shows, airport displays, and museums. With recent installations of a Zünd digital cutter and an automated sewing system, it’s looking to become more involved in the POP retail market.
One of the applications Kilmer hopes to capitalize on in this segment is standees. “I haven’t produced any truly unique standees for customers, but we are looking forward to that with the addition of the digital cutter,” he explains. Prior to the Zünd, the staff would cut out a shape on its CNC shop router and then direct print onto the cut out with its Screen USA Truepress flatbed UV printer.
“Now that we have installed a Zünd digital cutter with a vision system, we can print first with registration/cutter marks, and then cut. It was a complete workaround before since we didn’t have the cutter with a vision system to registrate the graphic,” shares Kilmer.
The majority of standees the PSP has experience creating involve life-size cutouts of people. For this type of job, PhotoWorksGroup usually relies on Sintra or Dibond from 3A Composites. Sintra for interior and Dibond for exterior, both are chosen for surface consistency and ease of use when mounting, overlaminating, and routing.
For example, a repeat client of the company’s is the University of Virginia’s sports department. It routinely requests standees to promote certain products and services. One time the client’s goal was to draw attention to a Pepsi display in a cooperative promotion with a life-size cut out of the school’s basketball coach, Tony Bennett, holding a basketball and a bottle of Pepsi.
This job was produced prior to installing the Zünd digital cutter. In a two week turnaround, the PhotoWorksGroup team secured a digital image, cleaned it up in its design software, drew a vector path of the image, cut the shape on its CNC shop router, and printed the graphic on 3A Composites’ Fome-Cor board using its flatbed UV printer.
With the addition of the Zünd digital cutter Kilmer hopes to ramp up production on its standees and translate their prior experience into POP.
Rigid standees, specifically found in POP, successfully perform when the correct material is chosen for the job. Certain substrates are ideal for indoor or outdoor, long- or short-term installations. Today’s materials are lighter in weight, but still offer a level of durability while simultaneously providing a high-quality print that any big box brand would be proud to use to promote their goods and services.
When the right material is chosen, there are endless possibilities. Standees can take the shape of the more traditional shelf-like product holder or become 3D representations of animals, food, or transportation vehicles. Customers willing to step outside of their comfort zone are ideal for these types of applications. PSPs with the capability are in line to reap the rewards. Combining sophisticated layout software-—see sidebar—and digital print compatible media yields high-quality graphics.
Feb2016, Digital Output