Digital printing has transformed virtually every aspect of the sign and graphics industry, including wayfinding and architectural signs. And improvements in technology and equipment have increased the number of possibilities available, from methodologies to materials.
Digital Print Trends and Technologies in the Sign and Graphics Industry, prepared by Craig M. Berger for the Sign Research Foundation, explores large-format print processes and opportunities where graphic applications can enhance or replace paint or natural materials and coatings.
Digital Graphics Overview
Digital graphics and large-format printing have allowed sign designers and fabricators to create custom signs to fit the unique needs of brands, and expertise in these areas is considered key for the success of sign fabricators today.
In the world of wayfinding, especially where ADA requirements must also be considered, the degree of difficulty and expertise in digital graphics and sign fabrication has increased, creating a greater need for fabricators to adopt a design-build approach where the fabricator can also be the programmer and designer.
When creating sign systems, there is often a need for quality and durability in addition to architectural integration. Two digital printing technologies – solvent and UV – address those needs, particularly in exterior architectural signage and wayfinding.
Solvent printing, often considered the backbone for digital inkjet printing for outdoor signage, uses inkjets that use a carrier made of various chemicals that penetrate material, but evaporate quickly.
UV printing, on the other hand, uses UV-curable inks which are ‘cured’ into a solid film that tightly adheres directly onto the substrate’s surface once exposed to wavelengths of UV light.
Therefore, it’s important to work with a sign designer and fabricator who has the equipment, expertise, and experience in these areas to create a quality sign system.
Digital Printing Trends
In addition to materials and processes, there have been some significant, emerging trends in digital printing, with three major trends in large-format printing for sign designers and fabricators.
Large-format printing has transformed the design of interior environments for architects, interior designers, and branding teams – creating new opportunities for sign companies – with the most aggressive digital push in retail, healthcare and corporate environments. The right custom signage has the ability to enhance the guest or patient experience and set a brand apart.
Building Wraps and Graphic-Integrated Exterior Architecture
Sign companies now offer solutions that require a higher level preparation and installation skills, including parking garages and other structures that require quality installation. When creating a more aesthetically pleasing exterior for larger structure, such as downtown buildings and parking garages, specialty architecture metals are being used more and more to create a unique look.
Digital Graphics for Interior and Exterior Wayfinding
Diverse options to fabricate wayfinding will yield a much greater integration of signs and interior/exterior environments, providing more opportunities to expand printing operations. Another related trend will combine printing and modular production, expanding the ability to produce unique sign systems.
Large-format digital printing is rapidly changing the landscape of digital printing – and Creative Sign Designs is proud to be on the cutting-edge of these advancements and trends. Contact us today to see what our award-winning signage can do for you!