Tension fabrics and tension fabric displays have quickly become one the most utilized and sought after signage displays used in advertising, exhibiting and event promotion. What is tension fabric? How does it work and when is tension fabric used with signage and displays?
The term “tension fabric” essentially means a fabric cover stretched over a rigid frame. The material is designed to fit the frame design it is pulled over onto. Tension fabric is very durable and made from a few different materials. One of the most popular materials and the one most commonly used with banners and trade show displays is polyester tension fabric.
Polyester fabric is popular for tension fabric displays because it is a synthetic material that holds color very well over time in sunlight and when machine washed in cold water. Holding the vivid colors that are produced on polyester “tension” fabric is one the most significant benefits to this style of material. Polyester tension fabrics are durable but are also extremely lightweight.
Printing on Tension Fabrics
As mentioned, tension polyester fabrics nearly impeccably holds its color in sunlight and cold machine washing is a huge benefit. That is because of the durability of the fabric itself and the printing process that is used to create those colors and graphics.
That process is dye sublimation printing. You can read more in depth about Dye Sublimation printing here.
The short definition of dye sublimation printing is that the ink is transferred into the polyester material through a heat press that makes the color part of the fabric material, as opposed to being printed “on” the fabric. The heat turns the ink from the transfer paper the image is actually originally printed on in reverse into a gas that the fabric absorbs when it is processed through the heat press. The fabric and print are completely dry once it has run though the heat press which stops printing issues like ink dotting or spreading. The faster the ink dries the clearer and sharper the images and colors are.
Dye sublimation printing is another reason why polyester tension fabrics are popular for displays.
Tension fabric displays usually consist of aluminum tubing like hardware that fits seamlessly together and is easy to setup. The aluminum tubing hardware often comes in unique shapes and designs that the polyester fabric fits over and takes the shape of. Tension or “stretch” fabrics have pillowcase like knit designs that slip over the frame with ease.
In addition to the ease in which tension fabrics slip over displays, they usually also come with an easy way to secure the fabric to the frame. Most polyester tension fabrics have hook and loop straps sewn to the bottom to lock it over the frame of the display and in some cases even zippers.
Pole pockets can even be sewn around the outside of this material to allow it to be displayed from any kind of pole setup.
Tension Fabric Uses
As mentioned, these custom printed polyester fabrics are used with tension fabric displays with rigid aluminum tube like hardware.
The same fabric is also used on Quick Fabric Displays with a hook and loop strip construction with a display that comes pre-assembled.
Tension Fabric Features and Benefits
With dye sublimation printing becoming more popular and accessible and the long term use polyester tension fabrics provide as well as on multiple display types, there is a long list of benefits.
- Long lasting durable material
- Colors and graphics hold sharp, vivid print
- Machine washable in cold water
- Lightweight and portable
- Slips over hardware frames easily
- Can be secured with hook and loop strips or zippers
- Many uses