Exhibit Industry terms to know.

These terms may make it easier for you to decipher the world of portable exhibits.

Backlighting:   Backlit graphics contain rear illumination lighting that can create a high-impact visual image.  

Banner Stands:  These are lightweight, inexpensive portable signs that have become synonymous with event marketing. Sizes vary, as well as shapes and quality. With banner stands,  “you get what you pay for” so do your research and work with a company your trust.

Custom Displays:   Custom Displays are designed and fabricated without relying on prefabricated elements or components. This generally includes wood laminate booths, but also includes the use of many aluminum extrusion components and other building materials. These displays always require professional setup.  

Decorator:   Decorators install pipe and drape booth dividers, booth signage, or overhead hanging signs at trade shows.  

Drayage:   Drayage can be a baffling (and often contentious) concept to trade show novices. Drayage is the term for the handling of exhibit materials from the dock at the show location to the exhibitor’s booth within the show hall. Trade show participants pay a fee, based on the weight and number of packages, to have their show materials received at the dock and moved to their show space.

Dye-Sublimation: A dye-sublimation printer (or dye-sub printer) is a printer which employs a  process that uses heat to transfer dye onto medium materials such as paper, or fabric. The sublimation name is applied because the dye transitions between the solid and gas states without going through a liquid stage. Many consumer and professional dye-sublimation printers are designed and used for producing photographic prints.

Most dye-sublimation printers use CMYO (Cyan Magenta Yellow Over-coating) colors, which differs from the more recognized CMYK  colors in that the black dye is eliminated in favor of a clear over-coating. This over-coating (which has numerous names depending on the manufacturer) is also stored on the ribbon and is effectively a thin laminate which protects the print from discoloration from UV light and the air, while also rendering the print water-resistant.

The dye-sublimation printing process is used to print on polyester or other synthetic fabrics. The dye sublimation inks are a pigment suspended in a liquid solvent, like water. Under high temperature and pressure, the dye turns into a gas and permeates the fabric and then solidifies into its fibers. The fabric is permanently dyed so it can be washed without damaging the quality of the image.

Stabilizer feet:  Feet are any support that is designed to add stability or leveling to a display. These can be built-in or mount-on features.  

Graphics: Anything printed  or laminated to flexible materials for use on a display.. Lexan, Styrene and polyester are the most common materials. There are numerous options for creating these graphics that vary in quality, durability, and price.  

Header:  A graphic banner placed above the display that announces your marketing message or company name.  

Hybrids :  These are more of a concept than a defined display system. The typical hybrid consists of aluminum extrusion, tension fabric graphics, and custom or modular components. Each manufacturer defines hybrid exhibits slightly differently and many refer to them as custom hybrid or modular hybrid displays. Hybrid exhibits are the fastest growing segment in the trade show exhibit industry.  

I & D :  Installation and Dismantling is the term given to the labor required to setup, take down, and repack an exhibit. I&D rules and rates vary depending on the show hall and show management.  

Inline Displays:  Inline displays face one or two aisles, depending where they are located on the show hall floor. Typical inline displays are 10’ x 10’ and 10’ x 20’.  

Island Displays: These are booth spaces surrounded by aisles on all four sides. The most common size is 20’ x 20’ but can be much larger.  

Modular:  The application of independent components that can be used in a number of configurations. This term is currently overused as a marketing buzzword assigned to any exhibit or exhibit system where assembly is required. 

Flat Panel:  Panels describe an exhibit component that is flat, curved, short or tall. It can be a window, door, shelving, light box, or video panel. 

Popups:  Normally these are hinged metal frames that expand to form a curve or straight. The metal frame supports channel bars which, in turn, support fabric or graphic panels.  Pop ups vary in quality, ease-of-setup, and price.   

Truss: Re-enforced steel or aluminum metal structure that is load bearing and re-configurable that is used to construct exhibits. Truss is popular because of its durability and multiple applications. The new "no tools" truss types are now very popular.

Tension Fabric : Not surprisingly, tension fabric graphics are graphics printed on stretchable fabric. These graphics use a dye sublimation process and attached to a metal frame with hook and loop or zippers. Tension fabric graphics have become increasingly popular because they are lightweight, durable, and can be printed in large sections. 

Zip Tube:  Sometimes called zippered graphics or pillowcase graphics. These are displays that have the graphics over the display structure, many times enclosed with a zipper on the edge of the display.

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