Branded umbrellas are one of the most effective forms of outdoor advertising, particularly in hospitality environments such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, resorts, wineries, etc. They are a great way of getting your logo out there, while at the same time providing patrons with something they genuinely need when sitting outside – protection from the sun and rain.
Traditionally branded umbrellas are screen printed with relatively simple 1 or 2 colour logos in fixed positions on the umbrella canopy and/or valance. However, increasingly designers and marketing experts are wanting to create more elaborate eye-catching designs that cannot be achieved with screen printing. This is where digital printing is required. Digital printing allows for full-colour high-resolution graphics to be applied to the whole surface of the umbrella canopy. There are two forms of digital printing commonly used for umbrellas:
The artwork is first printed on to a special type of paper that has a coating expressly designed to hold and then later on release (under heat and pressure) the printed image. The paper is brought into contact with the fabric in a heat press. The ink on the paper is then “gassed” directly onto the fibers of the canvas. This is the sublimation process where the solid colorant is converted into a gas to penetrate into the fabric. It results in vibrant colours and a print that can’t be scratched or separated from the canvas.
Flatbed (Direct) Digital Print:
A flatbed digital printer is used to print directly on the umbrella canvas. To achieve the best resistance to fading, UV inks should be used. These inks are cured by UV-light, and are inherently more colour-fast than standard ink. UV inks can be expensive compared to other inks, and since UV printing essentially lays down a thin polymer film, this can also result in stiffer printed canvas.
Digital printing using UV inks is much more colour-fast than sublimation printing. Since umbrellas are exposed to a lot of sunlight, especially in a hospitality setting where they might be used every day, it is important to make sure that your umbrella supplier is quoting/using the highest quality UV inks and not dye-sublimation. Cheaper sublimation printing might save you a bit of money initially, but if you have to replace your umbrellas every 3-6 months because they are faded and look shabby, it will cost you more in the long-run.
Below are some great examples of UV-digitally printed umbrellas produced by Instant Shade Umbrellas for one of our customers, Stockade Brew Co. They make great beer, check them out at: http://www.stockadebrewco.com.au/