Buying a Banner

January 6, 2014

Albion has been producing vinyl banners for decades. We'd like to think we've learned a few things over the years and we're hoping you find some of that experience helpful.

Long before digital printing came along, sign makers would carefully cut out individual layers of coloured adhesive vinyl and layer them to form multi-coloured vinyl banners. But even before the age of computer cut vinyl, Albion would screen print directly onto vinyl covered scrim banner.

Vinyl Scrim Banner is constructed from 2 primary components, and to keep things simple they both appear in the name. Scrim refers to a mesh material and in our case it's usually made from polyester threads. The Scrim can also be made from Nylon, although this is certainly less common. Polyester offers more strength and dimensional stability while Nylon will retain its initial properties for a longer period of time.

Historically cotton scrim was also used for banners, as the original materials were adapted from the materials used for Sails. The Second component of a Vinyl Scrim Banner is of course the Vinyl. Also known as Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC the Vinyl used to coat the scrim material relies heavily on plasticizers to give it the flexibility to resist cracking and chipping as it is flexed and rolled.

Constant improvements in the technology surrounding the plasticizers make the PVC used for modern vinyl banners inert and completely safe. Plasticizers come in two basic varieties, monomeric and polymeric. While most banner material on the market these days is monomeric, if you’re looking for something to hang for the long term then it’s well worth the extra money for a polymeric plasticizer, they keep banner flexible and crack free for a factor measured in years over their monomeric counterpart.

The Scrim portion of the banner can be a little more confusing. It is essentially a woven fabric material fabricated from nylon threads. Now Nylon offers tremendous strength at a particularly low weight, typically as you compound the threads in each fiber the strength and the weight of the weave will increase. We measure thread strength as a factor of it’s weight. 1 Denier is the measurement of approximately 9000 meters of silk thread, twist 2 strands together and you have 2 denier. Modern Vinyl banner ranges from 150 to 1000 denier and is made from nylon rather than silk so you can see how the material itself is very strong. Of course thread weight isn’t the only factor, so this measurement isn’t absolute, but generally the higher the denier the stronger the banner.

In the end the scrim material is either laminated with softened roll versions of the plasticized PVC, or it’s dipped through a liquefied version of the PVC. Dipped is better but certainly more expensive, and again for short term use the laminated products are more than sufficient.

Finally the measurement that everyone seems to rely on is the overall weight of the combined products, this is generally measure in ounces ranging from 8-18. While it’s a good indicator of the quality, it’s not the only factor, 15oz banner material derived from a 700 denier nylon scrim dipped with polymeric pvc will outperform an 18oz 400 denier polyester scrim laminated with monomeric pvc. You will see the 18oz material crack sooner, and if there are un-hemmed edges or wind relief scallops cut into the face, then the exposed edges may fray.