By Cassandra Balentine
Magnetic media is well suited for a range of wide format applications. Benefits include ease of installation, reusability, and easy change over.
Under the category of magnetic media, there are two distinctive options. First is magnetic media, which is printed directly while magnetized, or printed on and then magnetized. The other is magnetic-receptive offerings that work as part as an overall magnetic display system, in which a magnetic base is installed and magnetic receptive graphics are printed and layered on top. Several providers offer printable magnetic or magnetic-receptive media.
Adams Magnetic Products MegaMAG is a wide format magnet sheet available in 40- and 48-inch widths. It is available with standard 30-mil thickness, or if a lighter weight is needed, customers can order a 20-mil product. It is available plain, with adhesive, or with a printable PET laminate that can be used with UV and latex ink printers.
Jim Miller, technical sales, Adams Magnetic Products, says the product works well with the company’s magnetic-receptive MAGbond, which allows designers to create displays measuring up to 60 inches wide. He says the new magnetic-receptive material is gaining traction in the wide format market. MAGbond is available in a 60-inch width, 10-mil ultra-thin ferrous material with a PET laminate that can be used with UV and latex ink printers.
“Since many displays are used indoors and there is a high rate of change out, the market is demanding a more economical and efficient magnetic-receptive printable media,” explains Miller. Adams Magnetic Products introduced its indoor MAGbond AMAP with a high white point art paper laminate. “It gives customers the ability to react quicker to changes in marketing strategies without an excessive cost tied to it,” he continues. MAGbond AMAP art paper laminate is compatible with UV, latex, laser, offset, and flexographic printers.
Newlife Magnetics LLC currently offers printable wide format magnet materials up to 48 inches wide in the U.S. and plans to expand its magnet materials up to 60 inches wide in its portfolio later this year. The company also offers wide format magnetic-receptive materials up to 60 inches wide. “We have materials for a range of ink profiles and printer setups,” says Darrell Adams, VP/GM, Newlife Magnetics.
Adams notes that the demand for wider, thinner, and stronger magnet materials has resulted in the development of new magnetic substrates.
Rochester Magnet Co. offers a sheet magnet with standard widths of 30.5 to 42.375 inches. Lengths of 50 feet can be converted or customized for unique applications. The product is readily available in sheet sizes of 8.5×11, 12×18, and 20×24 inches and the company converts magnetic sheets to specification.
Andrew Carpentier, president, Rochester Magnet, comments that one size does not fit all when it comes to choosing the best magnet substrate or system for a particular application. Many vendors are ready and willing to help PSPs select the best option for a job based on specifications and life expectancy.
“There are two basic applications for wide format magnetic substrates,” recommends Adams. Large magnetic graphics are increasingly popular with brand in-store advertising. The thinner and stronger magnet and magnetic-receptive wide format print media makes quick and easy changes possible for large, in-store graphics.
In most cases, store employees are capable of changing these graphics with minimal training and effort. “The magnetic-receptive wall system enables multiple layers of graphics to be stacked on top of each other and arranged in different positions to quickly change the message or parts of the message. The ease in which these magnetic-receptive materials can be changed and/or rearranged makes it possible to change the entire message or mood of a space, room, or department with little time and effort,” says Adams.
He notes the second basic application maximizes the use of the latest and newest printing technology. “Wide format digital flatbed printers are now capable of printing up to ten feet wide substrates and automatically cut smaller graphics that are digitally designed to get the most economical use of the magnet substrate being printed,” he explains.
A print provider can lay two 48- or 60-inch wide sheets side by size and maximize print speed, graphic layout, and use of materials to produce high-volume small- or mid-size graphics faster and more economically. “Speed to market and lower cost have resulted in these advances in printers and magnetic substrates,” adds Adams.
De Leon suggests that promotional magnets have always been a standard application, but recently, magnetic car signs have become popular since they are mobile advertising and can be easily changed out to provide varying messages for different industry verticals.
“Another growing application involves large wall murals and billboard advertising where easy installation and few seams are desired,” says De Leon. “In all of these applications, the ability to print directly to magnetic materials while using the full width of a wide format printer allows for the most efficient use of both,” he adds.
Miller suggests that magnetic and magnetic-receptive materials are most commonly used for in-store graphics in retail environments and for menu boards, control charts, museum displays, and educational displays in schools or other venues.
Cirigliano says the largest magnetic materials entering the market today are often used for retail displays, POP, or other large format graphics. “Printable magnetics have always offered the possibility of interchangeable wall graphics and displays, but wider material makes larger graphics possible with a single piece of magnet, which is an attractive option because it simplifies and mistake-proofs installation,” he explains.
Magnetic substrates provide a simple, inexpensive, and elegant solution to replace signs at regular frequencies.
Carpentier has experienced many cutting-edge ideas from the signage industry. “Opportunities exist in other personal service industries like hair salons, spas, craft stores, and retail locations with changing specials.
De Leon cites recent trends where companies take advantage of directly printable magnetic media to produce products for typical promotional magnets with more efficiency. “Also, since the graphics are manipulated easier and the full width of the wide format printer is available, these same companies are creating new applications such as full wallcoverings for retail stores, malls, and other decorating and advertising purposes that look great and are easy to install,” he adds.
“Superwide signage is huge right now,” says Cirigliano. “Flexible magnetic material provides a retailer with the ability to mount interchangeable signage in creative, non-traditional spaces—on curved surfaces, ceilings, outdoors, and so on—in addition to walls, menu boards, and other traditional flat surfaces.”
Gertz points out that the use of magnetic-receptive solutions on walls and signs is a trend increasing the options for magnetic signs and graphics. “We’ve had our version, FlexIRON, since the mid-90s, but lately, more sign and retail graphics products are utilizing this combination of magnetic receptive and magnetic sheeting. As the evolution of magnetic receptive has been towards thinner and lighter materials, primary graphic images can be printed on receptive material and the magnet can be the base,” he offers.
Digital printing enables print providers to develop wide format graphics that are printed on multiple sheets, panels, or sections. “Large murals can be printed on materials that lap over on the edges without being cut or trimmed,” says Adams. “Digital wide format printing capabilities are only limited by the print substrates being used and the graphic designer’s imagination,” he adds.
Halkyard predicts digital wallcoverings as the next big market for printed media. “Hewlett-Packard, who we’ve worked with on several digital wallcovering promotions, says the market opportunity for digital wallcoverings is 37 billion square feet. The trend is now transformation,” he shares.
While the opportunity in magnetic and magnetic-receptive media is clear, the possibilities come to life when savvy print providers utilize the technology as part of their everyday substrate repertoire. Aion Solutions, based in Merrillville, IN, is a premier provider of products and services for environmental branding through the implementation of custom murals and graphics, displays, and specialty signage.
For graphic change outs, the provider developed a training package to allow the schools to utilize desktop inkjet printers to print graphics on packaged cut sheets, or to work with Aion to print them and ship them to the school. “The vast majority choose to print their own sheets as it gives them flexibility to experiment. We stock the cut sheets pre-packed,” adds Delahunty.
Magnetic media options, whether magnetic or magnetic receptive, continue to gain acceptance in wide format. Adams suggests that the average person may be surprised to learn that many of the graphics in retail stores, shopping malls, convention centers, airports, and outdoors are printed on magnetic or magnetic-receptive materials. Used for everything from business cards to wall graphics, the possibilities are endless.