Two weeks ago, EXHIBITOR announced the 2022 Portable Modular Awards finalists (50 total) andwinners. Without a doubt, this was the most competitive year yet, and we congratulate all the winners. Now, the next stage is thePeople’s Choice Voting Page. All 50 finalists (in every category) are vying for your attention. Who’s your favorite(s)?
You can vote once per day until June 22, 2022. The finalist with the most votes will be named this year’s People’s Choice Award winner. All winners will be announced during a ceremony at EXHIBITORLIVE 2022 in Las Vegas. As many of you know, we have been consistent cheerleaders for the PMA since the beginning, including sponsoring the voting page (see banner ad).
Please support the PMA by voting for the next two months. And don’t forget to register for EXHIBITORLIVE. Use code 4044 for a free exhibit hall pass.
Did some bunny mention a sale? Spring Savings on LED Lightboxes, Wireless Charging Counters, and Wall-mounted Lightboxes through May 31. For more information about these Spring Savings, see the Exhibit Specials page in Exhibit Design Search.
LED Fabric Lightboxes, in an array of shapes and sizes, are the single biggest change to post-pandemic trade shows, events, and signage. They’re EVERYWHERE! And it makes sense. Lightbox Exhibits are cost-effective, easy to assemble and install, and mesmerizing. So, what happened in the past 2-3 years that led to the proliferation of fabric lightboxes? Three things basically: Cost, Convenience, and Comfort.
What is a Fabric Lightbox?
Before we explore these three “C’s,” let’s define and describe what we mean by LED Fabric Lightboxes, starting the fabric. Over the past 10 years, silicone edge graphics have become the large format graphic for trade show displays. These are dye-sublimated or direct print graphics on fabric with a silicone welting sewn to the perimeter. The silicone welting is folded under the fabric and inserted into a channel along the edge of an aluminum or plastic frame. Because SEG graphics hug the outside channel of the frame (in most cases), it minimizes the appearance of the frame, thereby maximizing the overall graphic impact. In short, more graphics with less frame.
When those graphics are backlit, there’s, even more, WOW! with brighter, more vivid colors. The attached LED lights can backlight one- or two-sided graphics as back walls, towers, headers, and even storage closets.
The 3 C’s of Fabric Lightboxes
Cost: Backlighting has always been expensive and complicated. It required fragile fluorescent tubes, a graphic printed on translucent material, and a dedicated frame or enclosure. LED lights changed all that. They’re inexpensive (especially over time), durable, and available in a variety of temperatures/warmth and colors. The additional cost whether it’s for a large tower in an island exhibit or a backlit ad in an airport is both affordable and worth the increased visibility.
Convenience: Most LED lights are rated between 35,000 to 50,000 hours. Compare that to 750-2000 hours for incandescent lights and 24,000 to 36,000 for fluorescent bulbs. LED modules are easy to mount to frames or reflective surfaces and come in a wide array of sizes.
Comfortable: Both exhibit builders and ad agencies are well-versed in how to design graphics and structures to maximize the impact of backlighting. Wading through the electrical requirements no longer requires an electrical engineering degree. Just some practical experience working LED components and some friendly advice from an electrician on larger jobs.
6 Fabric Lightbox Examples by Classic Exhibits
Many fabric lightboxes are squares and rectangles consisting of a frame, graphic, LED lights, and a base or feet. But there can be so much more. The examples below are lightboxes with monitors and shelves as inlines, islands, and kiosks. There’s even a hexagon wall-mounted version for a lobby.
VK-1977 | 10 x 10 – SuperNova Lightbox frames have two distinct advantages: strength and lightweight. The engineered aluminum construction means they can ship in a portable case but are strong enough to hold a large monitor.
VK-4030 | 10 x 20 – Bigger is better when it comes to a lightbox. The custom VK-4030 features nearly 20 ft. of backlit graphics, along with a large monitor mount, charging table, and tablet kiosks.
GK-5152 | 20 x 20 – Island exhibits offer maximum impact on the show floor, and an island with (3) 15 ft. high double-sided lightboxes can’t be ignored. Available for purchase and rental.
RE-2053 | 10 x 20 – Many exhibitors would rather rent than purchase a trade show display. The RE-2053 inline rental features three large backlit graphics on the back wall and two backlit counts with locking storage.
MOD-1618D | Product Kiosk – This free-standing double-sided lightbox combines backlit graphics with shelving. The shelves can be adjusted or removed depending on the product requirements.
SLBW-9595 | Wall-mounted Lightbox – Lobbies, conference rooms, or hallways are perfect for an LED lightbox. The SuperNova Wall Frames can be cut to any size, and the vibrant fabric graphics are cost-effective and easy to replace whenever the seasons change or it’s time to promote an event.
9 Factors to Consider When Purchasing an LED Lightbox Display
#1. Hardness and Durability: Most LED Lightboxes start with an SEG aluminum frame. Every manufacturer engineers their frames using aluminum of varying hardness and durability. Less expensive lightboxes use softer aluminum because it’s cheaper. But cheaper aluminum scratches easily and tarnishes quickly. In addition, the wall thickness is often so thin that structural rigidity is compromised. For lightboxes mounted to a wall or assembled or disassembled at multiple trade shows, you will want aluminum with a 6063 specification. 6063 has better structural integrity and is scratch resistant.
#2. Availability: Does the manufacturer have the extrusion, LED lights, hardware, and accessories in stock? And are there extrusion options depending on the situation, such as one-sided vs two-sided, freestanding vs. wall mount. What if you need multiple quantities or quick ship options? Can individual parts be purchased if they are lost or damaged? You don’t want a manufacturer who just dabbles in lightboxes.
#3. Customization: Let’s say you need a specific width or height. Is it possible? If so, how complicated or expensive does it get? How about angles or shapes such as a hexagon? It’s easy to do squares and rectangles (for most manufacturers), but odd shapes and sizes are often a head-scratcher for those who only want pre-configured kits.
#4. Print Quality: Asking the right questions about printing is important:
Dye-sublimation printing is the best. This ensures the colors are infused into the fabric, not just printed on the surface. Many suppliers brag about “fabric printing” but it’s not always dye-sublimation, which requires two steps — printing to a paper material and then heat fusing the image to fabric.
Ask about the age of the printing equipment. The dye-sublimation printer shouldn’t be more than two years old. Anything older than that means the print resolution is just OK, not photographic.
Just like clothing, the fabric quality can vary, which may not matter if the graphic is a throwaway and the resolution doesn’t matter.
#5. Sewing and Sizing: Experienced manufacturers have this down to a science. They’ve done the calculations thousands of times with varying fabrics, and they know how to print, cut, and sew the fabric so it fits perfectly. Not too loose. Not too tight. Nothing is more frustrating than receiving a fabric graphic that doesn’t fit.
#6. LED Lights:Understanding the various color temperatures, lens, UL and ETL certification, module construction, etc. requires some research and patience. Like fabric, there are multiple ways to make LED lights cheaper, if cheaper is the only criteria. Skipping UL/ETL certification is one shortcut. Using exposed connections or alligator clips is another. Sadly, it’s nearly impossible to know what you are getting before you get the LED lightbox. However, in this case, the old adage rarely fails, “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.”
#7. Accessories: Most LED lightboxes are a one-trick pony. They are lightboxes. That’s it. But what if you want to add shelves, an iPad, a literature holder, wings, or headers? What if you want to connect it to other lightboxes or create a full inline or island display. That requires an exhibit builder who has engineered the extrusion to be multi-functional, stocks lightbox accessories and has the in-house talent to customize.
#8. Packaging: It’s easy to assume that your display will ship in high-quality cases and packaging. Sadly, that’s rarely true. Most manufacturers use disposable one-way shipping materials. Your lightbox arrives undamaged. Now you have to ship it to the next show or to another location, but there’s nothing to protect it or keep it organized. Insist on reusable shipping materials, which precludes cardboard, shrink wrap, and thin foam. All three will be destroyed after one use. See examples. While you may have to pay a little more, it’s an investment that keeps giving show after show, assembly after assembly.
#9. Assembly: It’s easy to overlook how the lightbox will be assembled but that would be a HUGE MISTAKE. Some require tools and a bag of loose parts. Others have push-button connectors. Others are “mostly” tool-less, but the hardware is cumbersome and/or unnecessarily complicated. Ask to see the instructions or an assembly video. Even if you aren’t planning to assemble it, could you put it together based on the instructions in a reasonable amount of time? Remember, time is money, especially on the show floor. No one wants surprises at a trade show, and a well-designed lightbox won’t make you sweat, literally or figuratively. Do the research and trust your gut.
Rent or Buy a Fabric Lightbox or Backlit Lightbox
Classic Exhibits has been designing and building solutions since 1993. We’ve been honored as an Exhibitor Magazine Find-It Top 40 Exhibit Producer and an Event Marketer Fab 50 Exhibit Builder multiple times. Along with numerous Portable Modular Awards. We offer hundreds of lightbox solutions for both purchase and rental for trade shows, events, and environments.
With over 200 Distributor Partners throughout North America, there’s a Classic representative close by. Contact us today whether you need a durable hand sanitizer stand built to last, a rental display guaranteed to attract trade show attendees or a lightbox with all the bells and whistles. We’re not just different. We’re better.
Recently, while chatting with a sales associate in the grocery checkout line, I realized that I’d gotten used to safety barriers (or dividers). It was normal or at least normal enough in most businesses, government offices, schools, and public gatherings. For the associate, who saw hundreds of customers each day, the safety partition reduced their exposure to germs and viruses. Yes, the barrier made conversations more challenging, although less so now that masks are optional.
From Necessity to Common Courtesy
What was at first a necessity has become a common courtesy and a workplace expectation for many employees and customers. It’s pretty clear (yes, pun intended) that plexiglass safety dividers are not going away. What is changing, however, is that temporary partitions are transitioning into permanent designs. Those tacky, unattractive, and often flimsy solutions are being replaced with barriers designed to be visually seamless. They’re becoming less noticeable as they blend into the overall architectural design.
Getting Started with Safety Dividers
Safety dividers will always be situation-specific. What’s appropriate at a bank wouldn’t work at a supermarket, a clothing store, or with a trade show display. The same applies to concerts, schools, lobbies, churches, or any other place where people interact. Safety Divider solutions have evolved over the past two-plus years. There are now attractive, pre-configured designs in a variety of shapes, features, and sizes.
But unlike two years ago when getting a divider in place as quickly as possible was all that mattered, businesses are now taking the time to identify what they need and how it looks. Sometimes an off-the-shelf solution is ideal or close enough. However, for others, the partition has to conform to the existing branding and/or architecture of the room, counter, kiosk, or colors. Plus, getting the right size can often be problematic since desks, POS stands, and counters are often built to be site-specific.
Thankfully, there are companies that will design and build custom safety dividers. They’ll work with the customer to ensure they receive a customized solution with not only the right look but also one that fits the space perfectly. For example, the video below shows before and after photos of a bank lobby with teller windows. At first, the bank installed temporary Plexi stands. However, they quickly realized the need for a more permanent solution, one designed to follow the shape of the counter.
Are COVID Dividers Effective?
To be honest, it’s inconclusive. Research on how well partitions work to slow the spread of COVID-19 is lacking, experts say. “There are, to my knowledge, no peer-reviewed studies assessing the efficacy of these barriers,” says Michael Fischman, MD, a consulting doctor in occupational and environmental medicine and toxicology in Walnut Creek, CA, and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Even so, he says, “intuitively, it makes sense that the barrier would capture large droplets and that might reduce the risk of transmission.”
One expert says the plexiglass shields work kind of the same way as face shields. “Face shields will block the large droplets,” says William Ristenpart, Ph.D., a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California, Davis. Likewise, plexiglass partitions ”would be less effective against aerosol transmission” than droplet transmission. “
As a barrier, plexi has many advantages. It’s readily available, easily worked, smooth, transparent, and easily cleanable. In addition, plexiglass is more durable and less expensive than other forms of barriers, such as tempered glass or polycarbonate. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a reasonable method for creating distance and separation.
Types of Safety Dividers to Protect Your Team
COVD has forced organizations to reimagine their work and the role of offices in creating safe, productive, and enjoyable jobs and lives for employees. Open offices, once a popular trend, are a no-go for most employees. As are shared spaces. As a result, more employees are working from home; however, that’s not always a viable option for all employees or companies. Organizations have been pushed to create safer spaces not only in a traditional office environment but also on production floors and retail spaces. Basically, anywhere people interact has become ground zero for personal protection equipment.
Office Desk Dividers
The open-office concept has taken a battering with the pandemic. And while barriers are not a perfect solution, they are effective at limiting the spread of contact and airborne viruses and germs. Dividers range from basic rectangle shapes, like the MOD-8054 to three-sided enclosures, like the MOD-8050. There are even customized shapes for larger reception counters like the MOD-8051 and MOD-8052.
Offices with cubicles may appear to be an obstacle to a safe and hygienic workplace. Yet, even pre-existing cubicles can be upgraded to offer additional protection by adding cubicle risers and floor partitions.
By design, cubicle walls offer some privacy when seated but not when standing. Even then, the cubicle walls are generally not much higher than 5 ft. Cubicle Height Extenders can increase the height from 12 to 36 inches and fit on most existing cubicle systems. And the cost is very reasonable. In addition, free-standing safety dividers, with or without wheels, can serve as a temporary wall or barrier to the cubicle entrance.
Clear Partition Walls
Plexiglass partition walls come in a wide range of sizes and shapes to meet any office, retail, or event need. For example, there are 3-panel folding dividers, V-shaped dividers, L-shaped partitions, and even Z-shaped designs. Want a little more flair? There are ones with curves, planter boxes, and graphics. Even colors.
What’s the Best Safety Divider?
The best safety dividers are the ones that meet your objectives. There are basic free-standing stands that can be assembled in minutes. They may not be “pretty,” but they’re a barrier. At Classic Exhibits, we offer safety dividers in standard sizes and colors with ⅛” acrylic and engineered aluminum extrusions and connectors. These are anodized to resist scratching and can be safely cleaned with off-the-shelf sanitizer products.
In addition, Classic Exhibits can design and build safety partitions to your specifications, such as sizes, shapes, colors, and graphics. The options are almost unlimited. They’re easy to assemble and come with a lifetime warranty on workmanship.
With over 200 Distributor Partners throughout North America, there’s a Classic representative close by. Contact us today whether you need a durable hand sanitizer stand built to last, a rental display guaranteed to attract trade show attendees, or a custom safety divider with all the bells and whistles. We’re not just different. We’re better.