Move over, paper (and all you rigid materials like hardboard, paperboard and plastics out there), because soft substrates are finally making their mark in the world of wide format printing. And we’re not talking beach flags, parasols, and what have you. No. We’re talking full-blown backdrops and extra-large posters and banners, printed on textile. Increasingly popular in retail environments especially, soft signage is proving a niche well worth exploring for wide format printers and marketers who want to stay ahead of the large format game.
Soft signage: a growing sector
In 2013 already, WhatTheyThink reported vendor revenues for dedicated soft signage systems and ink for digital printing of textiles nearly reached 1 billion USD. And they continue to increase with a growing rate of 16 percent. An estimated 75 percent of dedicated roll-to-roll textile printer output consisted of soft signage, the remaining output being apparel.
The advantages of soft signage
The reasons for soft signage’s breakthrough success is twofold. On the one hand it is driven by technological advancements in the fields of printers and textile substrates, on the other hand customer demand simply increased. Apparently, once technological innovations made soft signage became more attainable, the advantages it brought to both manufacturers and the end user started to speak for themselves:
- Soft signage is light-weight and easy to transport.
- Thanks to their flexibility, printed textiles have less risk of getting damaged.
- Many consumers consider printed textiles more environmentally friendly than vinyl.
- Printing on polyester textile substrates with dye-sublimation printers generates a stunning vibrant color quality (as the ink is deeply embedded into the fabric).
- Inks and digital equipment for printing on textile are becoming less expensive.
Soft signage calls for a smooth workflow
As the demand for wide format soft signage continues to grow and the market is still far from saturated, wide format printers have every reason to expand their fleet and add soft substrates to their offer. Is your soft signage business already starting to take off? Make sure your workflow keeps up with the growing demand – and the competition. Learn more.
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