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Installing grand format graphics

Graphics | November 1, 2008 | By:

It’s one thing to print grand format graphics; it is quite another to install them. Roger Leary, who owns Liftec Sign and Crane Inc. in Montgomery, Minn., says that 95 percent of the companies that print grand format graphics don’t hang them. He was the man responsible for installing the 34-foot-by-90-foot graphics for the Republican National Convention that were displayed on the windows of the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

“When you start getting to stuff at that size, you want to make sure you get someone who’s experienced at it and has his own equipment,” Leary says.

The graphics, printed by Visual Impact, St. Paul, Minn., were mesh vinyl panels that let one-third of the wind through. The panels were attached with two-inch Velcro® sewn in around the perimeter, with the adhesive-backed side of the Velcro put directly on the windows.

Leary has installed grand format graphics at many outdoor locations, and says that with so many variables, every installation is custom. It is important to talk to the installer before work on the job is begun, andto address these basic questions to be be assured that the project willgo smoothly:

  • Does the city and the space where the graphic will be installed require a permit? It’s possible that a large banner, for example, is not permitted.
  • Does the customer require a union installer? This is a non-negotiable for some clients, so it must be determined from the start.
  • Has a site survey been done to determine whether the graphic will fit and whether the surface will accommodate the project? Can the graphic be installed exactly where the customer wants it?
  • How long is the graphic going to be hanging? Will it need to be UV coated to prevent fading?
  • How is it going to be installed? What materials will it be fastened to, whether it can withstand a bolt or not, and how deep the surface material goes into the building all play into how the graphic should be manufactured.
  • Have you factored in enough installation time for bad weather? As Leary puts it, “You’re not going to get a nice day every day.” Creating a window of opportunity will allow ample time to get the work done safely. “They [banners] are some awfully big sails, and if some wind gets a hold of it, look out. It could tip the crane right over,” he says.

Janet Preus is the editor of Fabric Graphics.

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