The most obvious trend for trade show exhibits continues to be innovative methods for using dye sublimated printed fabric graphics.
The exhibit manufacturers are creating more and more systems, generally utilizing aluminum extrusions that accept silicon edged graphics. The advantages of using printed fabric graphics are the light weight of the graphic panels, which are often used as the actual wall surfaces. Since the fabric walls may simply be folded or rolled up, SEG graphic panels allow for much smaller, or fewer shipping containers, either molded cases with wheels, ATA cases, or wood crates, depending on the over-all size of the exhibit.
In 2014 the hottest trend was the backlit SEG graphics, utilizing LED lighting systems. These light-boxes make beautiful, eye-catching graphic presentations and are still very popular. We are still seeing the use of LED light-boxes, using dye-sub printed SEG graphics, but more and unusual shaped light-boxes are coming to market.
New Tube Frame Systems
This year, one of the most obvious trends is the number of companies now offering lightweight, push-button assembly, aluminum tube frame display systems. These companies include (but are not limited to) Laarhoven Portables, Optima Graphics, Nomadic Display, Orbus Exhibit & Display Group, Classic Exhibits, Nimlock, and Fusion.
At the Exhibitor Live show, Laarhoven Portables introduced a full line of pillow-case covered, tube frame modular/portable systems it calls the Companion System. The advantages of this system are that a 10’ x 10’ system packs into a canvas carry bag and multiple frames can be arranged into different configurations and sizes.
These tube frame systems are not currently offering lightbox options, but they are offering a variety of shapes. Most all tube frame systems are using dye-sublimation, printed “pillow-case” fabric graphics. The “pillow-case” graphics simply slide over the tube frames, then either zipper or Velcro close at the bottom.
SEG Still Big
For the larger exhibits, we are seeing dye-sub printed SEG graphics being used in more and more aluminum extrusion “wall systems.” A company called beMatrix, the first large aluminum frame system used in the United States, I believe, has added the B62 frame into its product line, which accommodates the SEG fabric graphics, as well as most any other substrate. Many of the aluminum extrusion companies, such as AGAM, Octanorm, Modul, and others have all added extrusions that also accept SEG graphics. The advantage of working with an extrusion company is that all the components are custom, cut to order items.
Optima Graphics and DUO have introduced the Panoramic System, which was the first system to allow the SEG fabric graphic to wrap the corner posts making a complete fabric graphic presentation. Other manufacturers have now also introduced systems that take advantage of this complete graphic look. That’s one thing that remains constant in the ever-changing exhibit industry—when someone creates a good idea, everyone else copies it.
Tension Fabric Systems
A trend that continues is tension fabric hanging signs. These structures are generally constructed with push-button tubing, with dye-sub printed fabric graphics stretched over the frames. Most likely the new trend mentioned earlier, the push-button systems, were an idea created from adding some sort of feet to hanging sign structures, that were positioned vertically as a wall structure, instead of horizontally as most hanging signs are.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend Exhibitor Live (formerly known as the Exhibitor Show) this year due to other business commitments, but after reviewing photos of all the exhibits on display this year, a new trend I noticed was the number of smaller-sized exhibits being presented. I believe there were more 10’ x 10’ and 10’ x 20’ exhibits shown than in the past several years. I am not sure if this is a trend or simply more companies presenting their products at this show. There were a number of companies that I had not heard of in the past. To view all the exhibits seen at Exhibitor Live, visit www.exhibitoronline.com, where you can virtually visit the show.
If this number of new companies on display is a trend, then that is probably a good thing, as new people with new ideas are coming into the exhibition industry! I have always enjoyed seeing the new ideas that have become trends over the years and am anxious to see what new ideas will change the industry again.