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Blockout banners :preventing see-through

What comes to your mind when you hear the word banners? A white cloth with big letterings tied up with
ropes and strings? Think again and you would indeed recall beautifully-printed pole-mounted sheets announcing an upcoming event in the city or new products being launched. The banners have come a long way and today they are printed on a variety of materials. Perhaps the major limitation of banners was the visibility of the objects on which it is mounted when light falls on it, which reduces the legibility of the text. To overcome this problem, blockout banner material is available.

Banners are perhaps one of  the oldest forms of  advertising. They are used for both indoor as well as outdoor advertising. Earlier banners were used only for short life span but with a variety of materials available, they can now be used for upto 3-4 years. It is an extremely versatile form of advertising and is often used for publicity and promotion for seasonal business, special events, tradeshows, fairs, sports events, expos, festivals, etc.

Even the most beautifully printed banner loses its importance and beauty, when the stand on which it is mounted gets visible when light falls over it. It not only reduces the readability of the text on it but also gives a shabby look. To overcome these problems, blockout banner substrate is available which eliminates the problem of transparency and your banner looks just the same when light falls over it.

Single-sided blockout vinyls are used to give opacity to the banner if lit from behind. It consists of one side white printable PVC laminated/coated and other side black PVC sheet onto a transparent polyester scrim.

Have you ever come across banners in a mall that hang from the ceiling? You must have noticed they have colourful graphics on both sides. Well! These are again printed on double-sided blockout banner material, which is different from normal banners, which have PVC laminated/coated sheets on both sides of a transparent polyester scrim, whereas ‘blockout banner materials’ consist of PVC laminated/coated sheets from both sides onto a ‘black or grey’ coloured polyester scrim. This reminds of black centred art card, the paper used for printing of playing cards to avoid see-through, to enable playing without cheating.

Normal banners, howsoever opaque they may be, appear translucent due to surrounding lighting (sun or artificial) falling from behind the banner. This translucency causes printed graphic to appear dull. Imagine trying to read a newspaper when light is kept straight up, which makes the back print also visible. And here lies the importance of blockout banner material. Its coloured (black or grey) scrim provides an opaque surface on both sides to avoid show through.

Various surface textures of blockout material are available such as gloss, matte or satin matte, depending on the applications. They can be used both for indoor and outdoor applications and can be printed with various processes such as digital solvent, digital dye/pigment inkjet (coated blockout materials), screen printing, coloured vinyl applications, spray brush, enamel painting and many more depending on manufacturer’s recommendations.

These are better than normal banner material as they prevent shadows of ‘metal frame’ to appear on the surface due to ambient light or sunlight. It can be hemmed and grommeted, and the high tenacity polyester base cloth makes it extremely dimensionally suitable for a wide variety of indoor and outdoor applications. It  prevents show-through even when spot lit. Thus, they can be used for a wide range of exterior banner applications such as event graphics, exhibitions and trade shows, besides being used for select applications such as ceiling hung graphics, flags and buntings.

Another new technological development in blockout banners is the use of PreLume technology which visually enhances the images to produce stunning graphic output by providing a white point that is brighter, whiter and lasts considerably longer than substrates whitened with typical optical brighteners (OBs).

There are a variety of blockout materials to choose from. Here is brief information about some of those available in India.

Just Right ( offers blockout material, which is a vinyl fabric material with smooth, scrim-reinforced construction. A built-in blockout layer prevents images from showing through to the other side. It is designed for printing on one or both sides depending on the printing technology used. It can be used with selected electrostatic and piezo inkjet printers to make interior and exterior banners. It can be used for making both single- or double-sided piezo inkjet printed banners as well.

Similar vinyls are also being offered by 3M ( Besides, Rational Business Corporation ( offers Xprint blockout banner. Another company offering blockout vinyls in India is Starflex (, which offers both one-sided as well as double-sided blockout vinyls. SBW-13 and SBW-15 (front-lit) is ideal for small and wide format frontlit display. SBO-10, 13, 15 (front-lit) is both side printable vinyl without showing through. These vinyls are printable with VUTEk, Scitex, NUR and DGI digital printers.
With the availability of these innovative materials for banners, the potential of outdoor advertising is set to increase wherein the advertiser’s message is conveyed in a dignified manner, wherever displayed.
(With inputs from Shailesh Vala, Just Right.)

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