Stretch fabric is a unique printable material that’s gaining a lot of traction among distributors and end-users. Unlike many other materials that have specific uses, stretch fabric offers more versatility, making it a perfect match for companies that want an all-in-one fabric option. Most stretch fabrics consist mainly of knitted polyester, and thanks to their strength, stretch fabrics are sometimes more durable than other types of fabrics.
For those who frequent trade shows and exhibits, stretch fabric is quickly becoming a must-have product because it is lightweight and requires less frequent maintenance than other types of prints. This fabric has fast become the go-to material for a variety of custom printed products, including, but not limited to, the following.
The ease of use that comes with stretch fabrics is a big benefit when it comes to display systems. Stretch fabrics for display systems normally use a pillowcase-type setup, where the print is slid over the display system hardware. A zipper or other closing mechanism is used on the open end of the print to secure the print to the hardware. Most systems that employ this type of setup don’t require tools and are easily assembled in minimal time.
Display systems with stretch fabrics normally use tension frame poles to keep the fabric taut at all times. As Nicki Wilson, general manager for Tex Visions explains, “The hardware for our tension frame displays feature click-and-snap poles with additional support poles that keep the display structure tense. Since the frame remains firm and isn’t able to wobble, the print remains taut and visible at all times.” These displays are commonly available in unique shapes with curves and arched sections that help to keep the banner fully visible and displayed at all times.
Stretch fabric prints don’t need to be rolled up or packed in a separate container, unlike what is necessary for other display systems. “It’s great because you can pack the print in with your luggage or in the bag for the tension frame pole set,” Wilson says.
Modular displays are big and bulky to set up, requiring specialists who know where each piece of a display goes. In recent years, clients have begun to opt for easily set up and collapsible displays that don’t require a fleet of freight trucks and a dedicated construction crew. Because of their ease in setting up and portability, stretch fabric printed backdrops have become popular with trade show and conference exhibitors of all sizes.
Unlike modular displays, portable stretch fabric backdrops aren’t all in one piece. Rather, the print is a separate piece from the support structure and both can be easily packed away so the backdrop can be taken from show to show. It only takes one to two people to set up a portable stretch fabric backdrop versus the skilled technicians necessary to erect a modular display.
“Modular displays are expensive,” says Wilson, noting the cost for a modular display can exceed $10,000 dollars. “Portable stretch fabric backdrops are inexpensive and cost under one-third of what a client would pay for a modular exhibit.”
Setting a portable backdrop is easy: the frame needs to spread out and bars locked into place. Once the frame is properly erected, the stretch fabric print can be easily attached to the frame and secures with hook-and-loop adhesive. The stretch fabric, depending on the client’s preference, can be outfitted with sides to cover the entire frame or without sides. No matter the choice, the fabric stretches over the front of the frame and is securely attached.
A must-have accessory for many clients is a portable counter that also doubles as a carrying case. To that end, Tex Visions has created a unique travel case that is made from durable plastic, but can feature a stretch fabric wrap with the client’s branding. The fabric slips over the entire case, and is secured with loops at the bottom that slip over the case’s wheels. “It’s become a popular product for us because clients are able to pack away their entire setup and also get an additional use out of the case,” according to Wilson.
Unlike portable backdrops which have a fold-out frame system, display walls use a snap-and-click pole system and appeal to clients who wish to have a less bulky display system supporting them. The print features a pole sleeve on the top, left and right sides, and is supported by either base plates or C-clamps if used as a tabletop display. As with the other products mentioned, the ease of setting up and disassembly with these products and the convenience of stretch fabrics makes them appealing to clients of all sizes.
The stretch fabric used for display walls can be printed on one or both sides, depending on client preference. The stretch fabric helps to maximize display space and as it covers the entire width of the poles, and ensures clients get the visibility they desire at trade shows and conferences. Wilson says that stretch fabric made the most sense for the company’s display walls because, “there was no other fabric really that could do what was necessary to create a vibrant presence with these products.”
For those exhibiting or networking, there’s nothing more annoying or embarrassing when their fabric prints have wrinkles and a steamer isn’t readily accessible. Because of this, one of the most popular stretch fabric applications is for table covers. Most stretch table covers feature table leg pockets that help to eradicate wrinkles.
“Many exhibitors don’t think to take a steamer or don’t have a steamer to take with them,” says Wilson. “For them to have a fabric that doesn’t wrinkle is great because they don’t have to worry about looking unprofessional.”
Stretch table covers most commonly feature area imprints, usually featuring a company logo or custom branding, although full-coverage imprints are also popular. With full-coverage stretch table covers, where all four sides of the table are covered, the leg pockets help to hide the table’s underside, creating a sleek, professional appearance at trade shows and conferences. Full-coverage stretch table covers close thanks to a zipper on the back. Another coverage option for stretch table covers is economy coverage or an open back that allows easy access to items placed under the table or to allow an exhibitor to sit comfortably behind the table.
Stretch fabrics are also used for outdoor products, like flags and fence wraps, although this is less frequent than is the case with the products mentioned above. While stretch fabrics have yet to penetrate the realm of outdoor use, it’s successfully become popular for products used indoors thanks to its wrinkle resistance, durability and ease of use.
Care and Cleaning
Wilson says most stretch fabric prints from Tex Visions can be washed through a standard household washing machine, but attention must be paid to the product and its use. Wilson recommends resellers contact the company through its website to attain specific cleaning instructions.
“When washing a stretch fabric print, you’ll want to use detergent that’s color safe and has no bleach,” Wilson says. “You’ll want to use the cold water setting and a color catcher, and immediately remove it from the machine once the cycle has been completed. Please don’t dry it with a machine dryer, but let it air dry.”