Graphics can be very confusing with all the available printing processes and materials to print on. We hope that this page sheds some light on the wonderful world of graphic production.
LAMBDA - In the printing world, a lambda-print is an image printed on photographic (light-sensitive) paper using a dedicated laser printer - Durst AG Italy was the first company to develop this digital imaging technology way back in 1995 and ‘Lambda’ is the system (hardware) that prints the images. Thus the phrase Durst Lambda print has entered the tradeshow/retail print world vocabulary on a everyday basis.
Hang on... don’t give up yet...this does get interesting.
Below is just the basics on what the process is.
Lambda photographic technology is quite simply digital print technology on photographic paper. For those of you that are familiar with how to make a photographic print, today’s digital print technology has taken the place of the traditional photographic process (printing from negatives /transparencies and using an enlarger in a darkroom) and uses three lasers merged into a single beam to expose images on to photosensitive materials up to 50 inches in width, producing the whole image in a single pass. The photosensitive material is then internally "wet" processed in the same manner as traditional photography. For those that have played in the darkroom and tried their hand at the printing process: it’s the same basic three steps; trays of chemicals...Developer, Stop, Fixer… in that order. I am not going to get into the details of the process, however for those that have a real interest in learning about the photographic print process, you can go to <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_processing> for more detailed information on the technology.
What you do need to know is that Lambda Prints can be produced from digital files, scanned transparencies, negatives or computer generated artwork. They can be printed on either standard photographic paper (opaque) or backlit transparency film (Duratrans/Fujitrans). The Duratrans/Fujitrans is typically what you find in a light box which can be incorporated into some of the portable systems that we sell. Because Lambda printing is on real photographic paper, the result is a tactile look and feel of a traditional photograph. The paper is available in a wide variety of finishes, the most common being Glossy, Matte and Satin. Another option that you will see from time to time is the Metallic paper, which gives prints a unique, metallic look. Lambda Prints are ideally suited to large format imaging and high-impact color graphic prints for exhibitions, tradeshow displays or any circumstance where the finest quality photographic images are required. Note, Duratrans is the film made by Kodak, Fujitrans is the film produced by… yep you guessed it …Fuji. Our print supplier (Optima Graphics) uses the Durst Lambda process and prints primarily on Kodak material, so you can refer to the product as Lambda if you are in conversation with a customer or prospect and Duratrans if you are talking about back lit graphics.
Size limitations are typically 50’’ wide by 16’maximum average length.
A wide choice of paper is available when using the Lambda print process
-Opaque– Normal photographic paper.
-Duratrans – For back lit displays/lightboxes.
-Flex – High contrast, high saturation.
-Metallic – A high contrast material with a metallic finish.
In addition to the print media (paper) choices, the other options available are mounting and laminates.
The most common mounting options you will encounter include foam core, gator board, Sintra, and Styrene to name a few. It is always recommended that you mount your digital opaque prints to a substrate. Sintra is by far the most popular used on the tradeshow circuit. With regards to the back lit Duratrans, most light boxes will accommodate them without any mounting, although a laminate is suggested to protect it from scratching. the most common laminates that are used for large format applications in the tradeshow environment are Lustre and Gloss. I tend to favor the Lustre, as it is more neutral and tends to tone down any hot spots you might encounter when applying any overhead direct lighting the on the graphic. The gloss, although a bit more brilliant with colors, has a tendency to reflect a bit and can be a lighting challenge. Either way, the purpose of the laminate is three fold, to protect the graphic from scratches, to eliminate harmful wear and fading from UV rays, and to make cleaning easier with the use of a damp cloth and or film cleaner.
Couple things to note:
Although Lambda prints on a 50" wide roll the usable (live) area is really only 48.5"; maybe you can stretch it to 49".
Something to also take into consideration is while you may be able to print a Lambda up to 16' in length, all substrates (for mounting) come in a standard 48" x 96" (4'x8') size. Some items are available by special order up to 5' x 10' but after that mounting options are slim: lexan and laminate being two good options.
Dye-Sublimation - This printing process is the most common of the graphic applications you will encounter, was developed in the late 1950’s and became very a very popular fabric print application in the 60’s and 70’s.
Dye-sublimation allows you to print on a variety of fabric materials with outstanding photographic results. As the interest in fabric printing has increased dramatically over the years, do in part to the aesthetics you can achieve and the light weight factor of these materials, more and more portable displays and banner stand systems are utilizing this print technology.
In dye-sublimation printing, colors are not laid down as individual dots, as is done in inkjet printers and conventional printing presses. Individual dots can be distinguished at a relatively close distance, making images look less realistic. Hold a magnifying glass over newspaper print, that is a good example. However, with dye-sublimation printing, there is no dot pattern, often referred to as continuous tone… very similar to a photograph and the most desirable way to view an image.
If you looked inside a dye-sublimation printer, you would see a long roll of transparent film that resembles sheets of red, blue, yellow, and gray colored cellophane stuck together end to end. Embedded in this film are solid dyes corresponding to the four basic colors used in printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The print head heats up as it passes over the film, causing the dyes to vaporize and permeate the glossy surface of the paper before they return to solid form. It is then passed over another roll, where the transfer of the image takes place onto the fabric substrate.
For the sake of not loosing you here with any more of the above technical babble… simply think of it as a ‘heat transfer’ process, much like the iron on t -shirts/patches etc. and let’s leave it at that.
· Dye Sublimation has the highest print quality for printing on fabric/textiles.
· Dye sublimated imaging on textiles are very durable and can be laundered without any concern of them losing their appeal
· Full Color Process – no difference is cost between 1,2,3,4 color designs
· Can print very large sizes- In addition to displays, this process is used for overhead/flying signage in booth spaces
· The proof for your client is an actual output of your file on their fabric of choice
· Photographic quality/image capability. Very realistic!
· Very cost effective per sq foot
· Much more elegant look and feel than vinyl or paper graphics
· Portability – can easily be rolled/folded and shipped with the exhibit
· Storage – for the most part the fabric will not wrinkle, or only slightly over time! This is really a plus as some of the pop ups have the graphics attached for easy set up. Keep in mind, stored for any length of time will subject the graphics to some creases, however when opened up and hung they will smooth out. If need be, you can also steam them to get rid of wrinkles.
· Fabric substrates are very lightweight
· There are many fabric weights/densities to choose from
This is simply a large graphic panel which can be used alone or as one of several panels in a mural pattern extending across the entire display area (a 10'x10' pop-up display that we sell will typically have three or four panels).
Hooks and magnets are used to hang the panels on the mounting frame, which makes them very easy to assemble and stow away after use. The photomural panels can be combined to create a seamless image or a variety of effects as required.
Detachable or Rollable Graphics
These are smaller graphics used in conjunction with pop-up displays, which use fabric panels mounted upon the display frame. For example, our EO-03 Quadro, 03 A, 04A are good examples. Typically in these situations fabric covers the unit and Velcro is used to secure the graphics to the fabric panels and this allows you to vary the use of graphics to suit your needs and the audience.
These are high-res graphic prints, which may be reproduced in matte, glossy, or luster finishes which also serves to protect the print. They are often referred to as C-Prints, Photographic Prints, or in some rare cases Continuous Tone prints They are usually mounted onto a solid, opaque mount and then fixed to the display panels with Velcro. Important to note, many consider these to be the highest quality graphical images and do require special handling and packaging when not in use.
Direct to Substrate Graphics (Sintra, Gatorboard, Styrene, Foamcore)
Another high-resolution print, which prints directly to Sintra, Gatorboard, Styrene, Foamcore to overlay the image upon and which, comes in varying thickness (2mm, 3mm and 6mm). Check with Lara on availability of thickness. This application allows for printing on either side of the substrate, which then may be fastened to a display using Velcro or installed within a framing system.
Duratrans/ Back Light Graphics
Duratrans / Back Light Graphics are also sometimes referred to as Plexi-mounted, and use a high-resolution print applied to a translucent or clear sheet of acrylic. There are varying thicknesses available up to half-inch. They are capable of being back and frontlit, however they are used to great effect when they are mounted inside light boxes or in conjunction with metal extrusion displays. You will find this application suitable for some of the EXPO Display MultiQuad system, Classic Hybrids and larger modular systems where a light box can be utilized.