Floor graphics is one of only a few markets that experienced growth during the past 12 months. FESPA.com takes a closer look at this segment and to find out more about opportunities for expansion and new work.
While the wider industry had a tough 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been a small number of markets that have been able to buck the trend and experience some sort of growth.
One such segment is floor graphics, which, as a result of Covid-19 measures, has seen an influx of new work. Social distancing floor markers have now become commonplace in retail environments, offices, warehouses and on pavements all over the world.
As all of these graphics need to be printed and installed, this has created a great deal of work for those already active in this sector, while those yet to move into the market might consider making the switch to capture new work.
However, with floor graphics subject to much more wear and tear than most other print application, it is important to work with the right sort of material that will stand the test of time in all sorts of environments.
With this in mind, FESPA.com speaks with some of the suppliers providing the materials to the floor graphics market to find out about their latest products and how these can help print companies win new work.
One such supplier is Drytac, whose global product manager, Shaun Holdom, said it is important to work with a floor graphic media manufacturer that is educated in installation in public spaces and engineers products to meet those demands.
Caption: Drytac has a range of films suitable for floor graphics both indoors and outdoors.
“Contrary to common knowledge, most falls are not caused by slips, but trips,” Holdom said. “So it’s more important that any graphics are securely adhered to the surface and there is no lifting of edges which can cause a trip.
“It is extremely important that your supplier offers the correct ratings and insurance backed warranties. Here at Drytac, whatever your needs, from fire ratings to slip ratings to product liability insurance, we’ve got you covered. We work to certify our products to make your life easier.”
As to how you can ensure you are working with the right material, Holdom said there are a number of factors to consider. Firstly, the type of surface the graphic will be applied to and if it will be located inside or outdoors, as well as the level of foot traffic the graphic will be exposed to and who is installing the piece.
“For any public space, slip ratings and certifications are a must to keep people safe,” Holdom said. “Slip ratings and certifications determine the suitability for a given product in a specific environment.
“The biggest accident with floor graphics is not people slipping over, but tripping over an already lifted graphics. Choosing the proper adhesive is key.”
In terms of some of the latest products Drytac has on offer, Holdom highlights Polar Street FX, a PVC-free, aluminium print media for outdoor floor and wall graphics without the need for lamination. Printable on eco-solvent, UV and latex printer, the film has a number of slip-ratings, which Holdom says allows for slip-resistant graphics to be applied with confidence.
“Polar Street FX has been specifically developed for rough ground or wall surfaces such as brick, concrete, asphalt or any other low energy surfaces,” Holdom said. “Thanks to its uniquely developed adhesive, Polar Street FX is easy to apply, dimensionally stable and can be applied without heat.”
Also available from Drytac is Polar Grip with Interlam Pro Emerytex, a polymeric self-adhesive PVC film suitable for graphics that need to remain in place for up to five years. Available for eco-solvent, UV and latex printing, the film can be used for work both inside and outdoors.
“The high bond adhesive of Polar Grip means you can permanently apply graphics to any surface, such as metal, plastic, wood, glass, brick and more using a premium vinyl with performance you can trust,” Holdom said.
Understanding the material
Another supplier of floor graphics materials is Mactac. Natascia Oprandi, product manager for EMENA digital printing media at Mactac, said it is important to look at the anti-slip certifications in order to ensure that safety is respected and put first when working with these materials.
“Floor graphics in fact are mainly used in pedestrian spaces where we can assume that the traffic is pretty high,” Oprandi said. “We can imagine, for example, indoor spaces like malls, supermarkets and airports or outdoor environments such as tram and metro stations. Our duty is to ensure that nobody gets injured due to a floor graphics application.
Caption: All Mactac floor graphics solutions are EN 13036-4 certified.
“It is now easy to understand that such materials need to remain intact without any tearing, they must fully adhere to the substrate to avoid stumbling and they need to be rough enough for anyone not to slip on them.
“At Mactac we put a lot of efforts in the product development process and we extensively test our products in several environments to ensure that they meet all the safety requirements.
“All our floor graphics solutions are EN 13036-4 certified, a European norm that provides full guidance around anti-slip properties and requirements.”
Looking at Mactac’s latest solutions, Oprandi pointed to JT 8300 WM-RT Dot floor, which he said it suitable for short-term applications in environments such as shopping areas, as anyone can apply it without tools nor specific application skills.
“It is a one-layer film for those users who pay more attention to sustainability,” he said. “In fact, instead of using a printable media and a laminating film, we reduce the consumption by using one film only.”
Mactac also has a number of PVC-free options for longer durability requirements such as LUV 6400, a polypropylene, highly embossed laminating film that provides up to three months durability for indoor areas such as schools, hospitals, cafés and shopping areas.
Oprandi said the wider Mactac Floor Graphics range covers a wide range of solutions, including materials for indoor and outdoor applications; PVC and PVC-free choices; anti-slip certified directly printable and laminating films, durability up to 12 months indoor and six months outdoor, removable, permanent and high-tack adhesive options, and laminating films with a special adhesive suitable for UV curable inks.
“At Mactac we always provide full support for the correct choice of materials,” Oprandi added.
Easy to work with
Elsewhere, Grafityp also has a number of options when it comes to materials for floor graphics applications. Sales and marketing manager Peter Van de Vivere says there a number of key factors to take into consideration when it comes to selecting films.
“It is extremely important that the ink has a good adhesion on the antiskid layer, so the image stays on the film as long as possible,” Van de Vivere said. “The right adhesive layer is also very important, so the sticker doesn’t come loose and yet can be removed with ease at the end of a campaign.”
Caption: Grafityp has a number of options available in its Floorprint range.
Looking at some of the latest offerings from Grafityp, Van de Vivere points to Floorprint Indoor, which he has hailed as a “very big success”. More recently, Grafityp has added Floorprint Carpet as a direct-to-print sticker solution for carpets and rough surfaces, while it will also soon launch Floorprint Outdoor for use in applications outside.
“It should be easy for anyone to apply the stickers throughout a building,” Van de Vivere said. “This means that your adhesive needs to be as universal as possible, so it can be used on various surfaces. And also, people should be able to remove the sticker again, without any glue residues staying behind.”
With floor graphics set to remain one of the industry’s key growth markets for some time yet, it is important for anyone working in these sectors to ensure they are working with quality materials that do not only make the application look the part, but make it safe for passers-by.
by Rob Fletcher