Using short-term graphics for timely, impactful messages

Authored by Shaun Holdom, Global Product Manager, Drytac

Social distancing has become standard practice across the world in recent weeks. As businesses and public spaces reopen or prepare for a swell in customer numbers, it’s essential to provide guidance in the form of graphics. Whether they are floor graphics designating to stand apart, or wall or window decals informing shoppers of a new queuing system, printed displays are reliable form of direction.

Furthermore, during periods of social change or difficult trading conditions, every business needs to stay relevant. Retailers and other public-facing companies need to grab their customers’ attention – and not just once, but time and time again to retain an ongoing, loyal relationship. Installing temporary graphics is an effective, affordable way to regularly refresh a brand and promote up-to-the-minute messages.

Temporary graphics offer almost unlimited creative potential. It’s possible to wrap whole buildings, inside and out, with colourful designs and branded messages. Walls, windows, doors, ceilings, elevators, stairs, floors, shelf edges, counters – you can advertise in 360º. However, with so many options to choose from, it’s possible to overwhelm customers.

Instead, choose your graphics carefully for the biggest impact. Focus on one or two parts of your space – for instance the windows or the walls – and refresh them regularly to engage with your market more effectively, and more long-term, than a flood of permanent graphics. Short-term graphics need to be applied quickly and, just as importantly, replaced quickly too. Drytac has a large selection of short-term graphic solutions that can be applied by hand with no specialist equipment – and no need to hire a professional installer – and can be removed cleanly without leaving adhesive residue. These products can also be layered over existing graphics, speeding up installation further.

Graphics media also need to withstand the duration of the promotion without fading, ripping or curling at the edges. In short, they shouldn’t attract attention for the wrong reasons. To meet these requirements, it’s important to use the right graphics media for each job. Using a product just because its sticks to brick or glass can result in problems down the line.

There are a lot of self-adhesive films and mounting adhesives on the market that have been designed for specific applications, such as window graphics. They will have been developed as an ideal blank canvas for vibrant prints, to be easy to install, to offer durability against everyday wear and tear, and to be simple and clean to remove without residue. For example, Drytac SpotOn vinyl films feature adhesive arranged in a unique dot pattern that assists air egress, removing bubbles upon application and easing removal. Drytac SpotOn White and Drytac SpotOn Clear monomeric PVC films perform brilliantly on window glass, showcasing promotional messages at their best, and can be repositioned and removed easily without leaving smears.

Similarly, Drytac ReTac Smooth 150 polymeric PVC film is coated with ReTac ultra removable and repositionable adhesive which makes it easy to get the installation of wall and window graphics just right. Alternatively, Drytac WindowTac is a clear, double-sided mounting adhesive with a unique embossed release liner, that allows printed temporary graphics to be easily installed onto glass, acrylic and other non-porous surfaces.

Drytac has also recently launched Protac Antimicrobial in the UK, a new laminating film that contains antimicrobial additives to protect graphics and surfaces against bacteria and fungus. These growth inhibitors are added to the film during the manufacturing process to ensure even distribution and durability throughout the life of the graphic, even after repeated cleaning. Protac Antimicrobial is suitable for graphics installed in hospitals, schools, restaurants and retail environments where hygienic is crucial.

Many graphics products are designed for multiple applications but check their suitability for your specific project before use, to ensure compatibility with the surface, environment temperature, cleaning products and, importantly, required levels of safety. On flooring, only specialist floor graphics media should be used as these products have been rated for slip hazards, for example. In any public space it’s essential to use media that has a fire rating too. For outdoor applications in extreme temperatures, product ranges such as Drytac Polar may offer the extra durability you need. There may also be environmental guidelines to follow, so check how used graphics media can be recycled. For advice, get in touch with a Drytac expert.

Get your temporary graphics correct now to retain your customers into the future.

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Keeping people safe with floor graphics

Authored By David Morgan, Technical Assistance, Drytac Europe

Floor graphics are an effective tool in many scenarios and are increasingly used to guide the public around a space safely. By reminding people to keep their distance, often acting as a visual barrier, floor graphics can play a key role in maintaining a safe but efficient flow of shoppers and other groups. However, if the intention is to protect people the last thing anyone wants is to create an injury risk.

To ensure floor graphics are appropriate for their setting, invest in the right product. When public safety is a priority, it’s not enough to use any self-adhesive graphics media that sticks to the floor – only a product designed specifically for this application should be used. This, partly, is because it will have been tested and rated for its slip resistance.

The test standards used to measure slip resistance vary across different geographical regions and even within the same country. In the USA, ANSI/NFSI B101.3 is commonly referenced but you will also see ASTM E303 and ANSI A137.1 /A326.3. In Europe, look for EN 13036-4 or DIN 51130. AS HB198:2014 and AS/NZS 4586 are used in Australia and New Zealand. Comparison between the standards is difficult as each will either differ slightly in test method or by using completely different instruments, but all are essentially measuring the same thing: floor friction.

The tables below go into further detail and give some guidance on the recommended rating required for the intended environment. For example, with DIN 51130, slip resistance is measured with R ratings: an R9-rated product is only suitable for dry indoor areas such as offices; R10 would be suitable for areas that are kept mostly dry but have potential for spillages such as supermarket aisles, hospital corridors and warehouses; while R11 can be used in areas that can get wet like external walkways, bathrooms or serving areas. It is important to carefully consider all the conditions a floor graphic will be subjected to – and not just wet or dry situations. Contaminates like oil will affect floor friction more so than water, floors at a gradient are also different to level floors, and the amount or type of traffic endured by the graphic will impact the durability.

Fire ratings are also applicable to floor graphics. Ensure all products used in a public space have achieved a sufficient fire safety certification. The manufacturer or supplier of your selected floor graphics product will be able to tell you both the slip rating and fire rating – and to help you choose the right media for your specific environment.

Another reason for choosing a specialist floor graphics media is to avoid a trip hazard. These products will have been developed to adhere securely to most typical floor surfaces – but, again, check your intended setting – without tearing or curling at the edges. They may have been engineered to withstand heavy foot traffic, high-heeled shoes and machinery without being damaged.

It’s important to keep floor graphics clean, and crucial if they display safety or directional information. Even with a specifically designed product, special care should be taken to minimise the adhesive’s exposure to water and cleaning products as these can degrade the bond to the floor and create a tripping hazard. You can minimise the risk of lifting by edge-sealing the graphic upon application.

The print itself should withstand cleaning chemicals too – as well as potential fading from UV light – so check that the product is compatible with both your cleaning solutions and the ink technology used to print it. Most specialist floor graphics films are designed for vibrant, long-lasting results with all major digital printing technologies.

Safety is paramount. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your product manufacturer or supplier for expert advice.

Click here for a pdf of the above!

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Helping your graphics withstand deep cleaning

Authored By David Morgan, Technical Assistance, Drytac Europe

For anyone giving their site a deep clean, or simply sprucing things up during downtime, it’s important that disinfectant chemicals don’t cause damage to signage and displays. Museums, photo studios, retailers, schools and many more sites will have a range of graphics materials installed that will need to remain safely intact and in a good visual condition after cleaning.

Wall murals, decals, floor graphics, window displays and signage may all need cleaning, but how to approach this will depend on the graphics material, especially that of its overlaminate product. An overlaminate is used to enhance graphics but is also essential to protect an underlying image or surface from damage caused by UV exposure, scratches, graffiti and indeed cleaning chemicals.

Drytac’s range includes several types of overlaminating films, all of which will withstand cleaning with everyday commercially available cleaning agents and disinfectants, but for more intense cleaning it’s important to check the film’s chemical resistance. The majority of customers will be using a PVC, polyester or polypropylene film – all of which have different levels of chemical resistance.

PVC has good resistance to aliphatic alcohols such as isopropanol, a widely used disinfectant within pharmaceutics and hospitals and dilute acids/bases found in common cleaners like bleach. However, organic solvents such as ketones (for example acetone), aromatics like toluene, and esters should be avoided as they will damage the PVC material.

Polypropylene (PP) has a similar resistance to that of PVC and is also durable against esters. PET can withstand cleaning with all of the above, including organic solvents.

Regardless of your type of film, ensure that you wash your graphic with a soft non-abrasive wipe to avoid surface damage and scratches. Even the toughest overlaminate will suffer from attention with a rough brush. Be sure to take care with exposed edges; chemicals and liquids can detrimentally affect adhesives if given the opportunity to ingress. This is especially crucial on floor graphics, as reduced adhesion could result in a tripping hazard – and of course these are the graphics likely to be cleaned more often.

As always, Drytac can answer any questions you have about applying and maintaining your graphics for a safe and effective project – just get in touch.

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Why Drytac is the leading developer of custom coatings in the UK

Authored by Phil Webster, Technical Sales Manager, UK

In any industry, getting the right tool for the job is essential. Having a product custom-made might seem like an expensive or time-consuming option but, by working with a specialist, it will pay off in the long term. Drytac is an expert in producing custom coatings in the UK, building on over 40 years’ experience in adhesive science to create tailor-made coated products for customers across dozens of industries.

Working from a state-of-the-art R&D facility in Bristol, the Drytac team develops contract coatings for markets such as construction, packaging, medical, pharmaceutical, automotive, security, chemical, durable labelling, tapes, industrial, archival, marine and many more. As well as four decades’ worth of expertise in developing self-adhesive products, Drytac understands the importance of communicating and collaborating with every customer to understand their unique requirements. The client is part of each step in the process, from choosing the initial raw materials and compatible adhesives, to receiving prototypes to see and feel. Drytac has the ability to then carry out small-scale production trials, tests and evaluations. Once the final product formulation is agreed, Drytac can manufacture bespoke self-adhesive coated products in runs as short as 5,000 linear metres and as long as over a million.

Unlike other manufacturers, Drytac does not specialise in one type of chemistry, instead able to offer custom coatings with solvent-based adhesive, water-based adhesive and hot-melt adhesive, giving a much wider range of options. Drytac has also pioneered its own pattern-coating process for laminating breathable and permeable materials, with a dot adhesive coating.

There is no typical customer and no standard product; Drytac produces mounting adhesives, overlaminating films, printable media and practically any other adhesive-coated material – high coat weight double-sided tapes, cloth tapes, tissue tape, perm/peel tapes, medical transfer tapes, horticultural labels, BS5609-approved chemical drum labels, protection films for carpets and hard floors, spray booth liner and many more. For any business looking for custom contract coatings, in any market, personal service from an expert will yield the best results.

Learn more about our custom coating services here!

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Wall graphics: Fail to prepare or prepare to fail!

Authored By Dave Newbery, Regional Sales Manager at Drytac

It’s no surprise that over the past decade wall graphics have become more and more relevant. The explosion of higher quality and more affordable large format printers has enabled graphics companies to offer their customers more than just their standard signs, vehicle graphics and posters. Offices, schools, gyms and hospitals, to name but a few, are all benefiting from using formerly blank wall space to convey a mission statement or promotional message – or simply to brighten things up.

However, wall graphics can all too often go wrong, and sometimes very badly. This is due to the minefield that is different types of paint (particularly interior paints) and their compatibility with wall graphics products. Factors such as the incorrect face film and incorrect adhesive (including the wrong coat weight of adhesive) can have a disastrous effect.

A common cause of failure is lack of a proper site survey. This should include peel testing the products that will potentially be used, checking the paint in situ, finding out if there are any air conditioning units or heaters in the vicinity and what the local ambient atmosphere is, and, if possible, discovering what is under the paint and how long ago the paint was actually applied. There’s lots of detective work to do!

Printers and sign makers can easily fall into the trap of thinking any wall graphics media will work with any wall – only to then get a call the next day from their client complaining that their wall graphics have overnight become floor graphics. Explaining to the customer that they would like to visit the site to check the walls and do some testing in advance of producing the graphics can eliminate a world of pain – and embarrassment. The end user won’t always grant this request but most will understand that a day’s disruption is better than several extra days on site to correct any faults later. A survey will make everyone’s life far simpler in the long run.

Washable or wipeable paints that have become very popular over the past few years never make for an easy install when it comes to adhesive. Put simply, if a paint wants to chemically repel dirt, ink and fingerprints it will want to do the same to adhesive. If not prepped correctly, the highest strength adhesives can still fail when applied to these types of paints. Even if the bond is a ‘pass’ but the face film isn’t stable enough, a ‘pass’ can quickly become a ‘fail’ as the film is effectively pulling on the adhesive. And it is often the case where wall graphics need to be fitted when the wall was only painted a matter of days (sometimes hours!) ago.

Paint needs to have been applied a bare minimum of 72 hours in advance (ideally a lot longer) to give any adhesive a fighting chance of working. And if the printer has input into the type of paint to be used, a basic emulsion paint is a far better choice as this has no washable properties to it. However, if a washable or wipeable paint has been used, there are some fixes. Ideally, this type of paint needs sanding to remove the ‘washable’ surface. Sanding generates a whole new problem of dust – and lots of it – but this is the preferred work-around for this type of paint. If this is not possible, a good quality sealer or primer to lock in the washable properties of the paint is a viable alternative. All finishes also need to be clean; a seemingly obvious fact that can be overlooked.

Here at Drytac we have several products which offer excellent performance when these guidelines are followed. Drytac Polar Grip is an 80 micron polymeric PVC film coated with a high coat weight/high strength adhesive. The polymeric film with its lack of phthalates makes for a very stable face. This coupled with its 44gsm high peel/high sheer adhesive makes this an excellent solution for permanent wall graphics. Polar Grip is available in both matte and gloss white finishes and is even suitable for application to brickwork for exterior use.

The extensive range of Drytac ReTac products add a new dimension to wall graphics. Not only are there various finishes and thicknesses but the unique ReTac adhesive allows for wall graphics to easily be changed around if the image starts to look dated or is no longer suitable. There is even a glossy wipeable version, so dry-wipe boards can be moved around a building with the end user safe in the knowledge that there will be no adhesive residue left and no damage caused. The world of wall graphics can be a minefield. Fail to prepare or prepare to fail – or, do your homework and get great results.

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Elevate your graphics with the right media

Authored by Brad Haupt, Regional Sales Manager, Drytac

If you’re looking for a captive audience for your advertising or branding, you can’t get much more focused than an elevator – exterior or interior. Your market may only be exposed to the display for a few seconds at a time – although possibly several times a day – which means it must have an immediate impact. But if you get it right, there’s incredible potential for engagement.

Elevators, or lifts, situated in environments such as airports, hotels, casinos and convention centres offer a great opportunity for semi-permanent advertising campaigns or displays. These spaces tend to be used by visitors who may be unfamiliar with the local area, so are ideal for displays advertising nearby restaurants or tourist attractions. Lifts in offices, colleges, shopping malls and other places used frequently – daily or weekly – are prime candidates for displays designed to be changed often. Ads for events, retail campaigns, holiday messages: these can all be switched up to grab people’s attention.

The outside of an elevator can have a bigger impact, as people wait for it to arrive. You can incorporate the moving doors into a creative idea, complement or contrast the colour schemes of the building, use it as wayfinding, and much more.

Whether your elevator display is long-term or destined for just a few days, it’s essential to use the right graphics media. Drytac SpotOn White for example, is ideal for short-term elevator graphics. This is a printable vinyl designed for use on smooth interior surfaces – such as the metal box of a lift – and offers up to three years’ durability indoors. It is compatible with UV, latex, solvent and eco-solvent printing technologies, and is available in clear or white, matte or gloss finishes, making it the ideal partner for colourful, impactful printed graphics.

However, the true beauty of SpotOn is its adhesive. Using Drytac’s innovative dot pattern design, the adhesive enables incredibly easy application of graphics to suitable surfaces – so easy, in fact, they can be installed by any non-professional, without special equipment. It doesn’t even require a squeegee to achieve bubble-free application. And, whether the display is in place for three months or three days, it can be removed simply, cleanly and with no residual mess. This allows employees to change out graphics when required, putting more control in the hands of local businesses.

Drytac’s SpotOn is also suitable for applications including wall murals, window graphics and exhibition displays, so an entire project can be printed using the same media. Step through the doors and take the elevator to explore a whole world of eye-catching graphics.

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Cakes and PVC: What do they have in common?

Authored by Steve Broad, Drytac’s European & Asia Sales Director

Vinyl is a standard sign and graphics material, with great results for a whole range of applications. But there is more than one type, and it’s important to choose the correct media for your project.

There are three categories of display vinyl: monomeric, polymeric and cast. Each are polyvinyl chloride – better known as PVC – of different sorts. To understand the difference between these three types, simply compare the PVC to baking a cake. The three types of PVC have very similar ingredients in their build; it’s just their quality and manufacturing processes which differentiate them.

Monomeric film is one of the cheapest forms of PVC available. It has the lowest cost of ingredients and it is stretched or rolled out to make it thin and printable – a little like using a rolling pin to roll out pie crust – in a process called calendering. All calendered PVC has a memory and wants to shrink back to its original state, but the additives in the chemical formulation prevent it from doing so. Typically, monomeric PVC will have an application lifespan of around three years, making it very cost effective for many short-term display projects.

Polymeric film is typically more expensive than monomeric. Its production uses the same kind of raw materials and calendering process as monomeric, but the ingredients of polymeric PVC are of a higher quality – hence this PVC has a longer life, of around five to seven years. It also can be used on a greater variety of surfaces than monomeric vinyl, such as those which are not flat or regular. In terms of cakes, polymeric films have higher quality ingredients than monomeric films.

The third type of PVC is called cast. Again, this uses the same type of raw materials as monomeric and polymeric, but the manufacture of cast uses the highest quality ingredients available. Additionally, the production process of cast PVC is not calendered; instead the PVC is poured into a casting tray where it is made flat from the beginning. Back to the analogy of baking: making cast PVC is like making a cake or brownies where you pour the ingredients into a cake tin, bake it, and it comes out the shape and size of the tin. This is the same way cast PVC is produced, so thanks to the high-quality ingredients and casting process, the PVC has no memory and will not shrink, allowing it to be formed or wrapped into many different shapes. The life of the product can therefore be in excess of seven years and is ideal for high-end applications such as vehicle wrapping for the auto industry. Think of it as a beautifully decorated cake for a special occasion.

While monomeric and polymeric PVC media are engineered with lower grades of ingredients, that’s not to say they aren’t ideal for a range of applications, such as  simple, short-term displays. All types of PVC vinyl are available in gloss and matte finishes and with white and clear face films, offering a multitude of options to create the perfect project. Get in touch with your Drytac representative to discover the best product for you.

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Wrap up for winter: prepare for cold-weather installations

Authored by Dennis Leblanc, Territory Manager, Eastern Canada + GTA; Drytac

It’s that time of year again: here in the northern hemisphere the leaves are falling from the trees, the nights are drawing in and the temperatures are dropping. While many of us would like to stay indoors with a warm drink, work goes on – and that means installing graphics in cold conditions.

As well as looking after ourselves in wintry weather, it’s important to keep in mind install temperatures when applying graphics outdoors in order to avoid failures. Typical install temperatures for pressure-sensitive materials rate at 5ºC (41ºF), but it’s essential that your chosen media, and its adhesive, can handle temperatures far below that.

Drytac has several solutions that are cold weather install rated down to -20ºC (-4ºF). In fact, there is an entire range of products, called Polar, designed specifically with low temperatures in mind – during installation, throughout the life of the graphic, and for its clean removal. The Drytac Polar range comprises a full selection of media for almost any graphics project need.

In fact, Polar Transit (available in North America) is even used for NHL rink board advertising across the USA and Canada, demonstrating its durability in low temperatures during action-packed ice hockey games, just as much as for bus graphic applications.

However, as much as winter may seem to drag on, it’s also crucial to bear in mind the highest temperatures your graphics may have to endure; summer is never far away. Drytac has also tested its Polar products for warm-weather performance – including an unofficial but extreme experiment carried out on Polar Chrome by Jerry Hill, Vice President of Business Development at Drytac. In March 2019, Jerry rode from Richmond, VA to in Las Vegas, NV on a motorcycle adorned with specially printed decals on this new reflective film. During the 2,400-mile, 36-hour journey (and back again), Jerry and the decals suffered temperatures of -2ºC (28.5ºF) in the southern Colorado mountains and 44ºC (112ºF) in Death Valley – and all survived.

The success of an application project lies in the ideal combination of film, laminate if necessary, and adhesive. Reach out to your Drytac adhesive science specialist for the right adhesive solution to meet your install needs.

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The people behind the products

Peter Bourgeois, Territory Sales Manager, Western Canada, Drytac

When you’re surrounded by exceptional people, innovation and creativity every day, it’s easy to take for granted what can be achieved. As an employee of Drytac I have visited our coating facility in Brampton, Ontario many times, but recently I had the pleasure of accompanying one of my customers on a tour, giving me the opportunity to see the plant with fresh eyes. It truly was a great experience to see the pride in quality and service that everybody takes – at all levels – at Drytac.

From the moment you walk into the office you see professionals who are dedicated to our customers’ success. Kam and Doreen in the front office consistently provide our customers with a level of service and care that is unparalleled. When you arrive in the manufacturing plant and put on the required safety equipment (a stunning orange vest!) Luigi takes over. Luigi knows more about adhesives and adhesive media than most of us will learn in a lifetime and is instrumental in the quality of Drytac products. As you journey through the plant you see the methods used to analyse our processes and the quality control that ensures all Drytac products meet the high standards required by our end users.

But the main thing I began to realize as we continued our tour is that it is not just the testing, manufacturing processes and quality of components that let us make a great product: it is the individuals involved. Everybody in our plant, from the operators to the directors, are working towards that same goal of creating a product we can be proud to stand behind.

Over the next two years, all of Drytac’s Canadian operations will be consolidated into a single, state-of-the-art facility. Spanning over 70,000sq ft, this new plant will include improved R&D facilities, expanded space for the production and storage of media to meet growing demand, and much more to improve the efficiency of operations. However, perhaps more importantly, the move to new premises will allow Drytac’s entire Canadian staff to work under the same roof for the first time. Already a business built on teamwork, Drytac will strengthen the relationships that maintain its success and progress.

No matter what you do, it is important to stop and look at the bigger picture of how your company, product or service gets from here to there. It does not matter what policies, procedures and processes you have in place if you do not have the buy-in from everybody within the organization. At Drytac we have that in excess and for that I am proud – and wish to thank everybody who is involved in making the products that I am lucky enough to sell.

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Epic journey through desert and snow proves Drytac Polar Chrome’s endurance

Authored by Jerry Hill, Vice President of New Business Development, Drytac

Drytac®‘s new metallic print media has been put to the test during an epic cross-country journey – and survived.

This March Jerry Hill, Vice President of Business Development at Drytac – a market-leading international manufacturer of self-adhesive materials for the large format print and signage markets – decided to travel from Drytac’s US HQ in Richmond, VA to the ISA International Sign Expo in Las Vegas not by plane, but by motorcycle.

The 2,400 mile, 36-hour ride to Las Vegas (and back again) presented a great opportunity to test out Polar Chrome, Drytac’s bold new reflective film designed foreye-catching indoor and short-term outdoor signage, billboards and exhibition graphics, POS displays, bus and subway advertisements, and ultra-reflective labels and decals. Tests have shown Polar Chrome offers exterior durability of up to two years, and Jerry’s extreme motorcycle ride proves it can withstand even the toughest conditions.

Jerry Hill explains: “A decal was specially designed for the occasion and applied to my black powder coated panniers. The decal would tag along for the ride.

“I never thought that I would have to endure the extremes of 112ºF (44ºC) of Death Valley and the snow, sleet, and hail of the southern Colorado mountains, with temperatures dropping to 28.5ºF (-2ºC).

“I ended up with a 5,600 mile journey of personal exuberance with the decal performing flawlessly, never budging, shrinking, or peeling – even a smidge.”

Jerry adds that Polar Chrome was not developed as a vehicle graphic media but his test more than prove its endurance for applications such as signage, award plaques, and POP displays.

“I now know that I can tell my customers, with confidence, that whatever graphic they build, that Polar Chrome will be at their side until the end of the journey,” he says.

Polar Chrome is a 75 micron (3 mil) reflective satin silver PET film, available in rolls up to 60″ wide and compatible with eco-solvent, solvent, latex and UV printing technology. For indoor applications, it offers durability of up to three years, and is easily and cleanly removed after use.

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