Trade Show Graphics

FAQ: Popup Displays

Posted by Andy Keeler on September 19, 2008
Trade Show Displays, Trade Show Graphics / No Comments

popup displayPopup displays are the most popular portable trade show displays on the market today. Since their invention over 30 years ago, exhibitors have found that these exhibits reduce the overall cost associated with exhibiting, but do not require that they sacrifice a professional look and feel. Full graphic popup displays dominate the trade show landscape, reigning as the enduring and undisputed king of portable trade show booths. If you have ever attended or exhibited at a trade show, you probably understand how popup displays work, but this article will answer some common questions about the structure and the graphics of the popup exhibits from MODdisplays.

Why are your popup displays so much cheaper than those sold by other exhibit houses?

This question has two answers:

1- We don’t believe our customers should have to pay for our mistakes. Graphic houses across the country charge outrageous prices for popup display graphics because they need to cover the cost of all the panels that they printed or produced incorrectly. Small printing operations with inexperienced equipment operators make tons of mistakes, and they will often need to reprint your graphics 2 or 3 times before they get it right. Unfortunately, the customer usually eats the cost of those reprints, even though they had nothing to do with the mistake.

2- MODdisplays consciously chooses to make less money per exhibit in order to keep costs down for our network of clients. In order to make any money at all, MODdisplays needs to sell exhibits for more than it costs us to produce them. Many of our competitors will charge their clients  $400 or $500 for a popup display graphic panel when it costs them almost nothing to produce. This is highway robbery, plain and simple. In the 1990’s, popup display graphics legitimately cost much more than they do now, but with new advances in printing technology there is no excuse to charge so much for popup display graphics.

How long will it take me to set up my popup display?

No popup display should ever take more than 30 minutes to set up, even the first time. With practice, you should be able to set up an entire 10ft popup unit in less than 10 minutes. Exhibitors love the quick set up because it allows them to mingle on the show floor with other exhibitors and attendees instead of wasting valuable time setting up their exhibit.

What kind of graphics are used with my popup display?

Popup display graphics are printed on high quality photographic paper, and then thermally laminated. The inkjet printers that produce our popup display graphics are capable of printing at over 1200 DPI, which will result in extremely high quality output. Laminating your graphic panels protects them from scratches or damage during shipping, and helps them to keep their shape even when they are applied to your popup display frame.

What are “magnetic channel bars” and how are they used in the context of my popup display?

Magnetic channel bars attach to the frame of your popup display in order to hold your popup display graphics. You should never buy a popup display that does not offer a direct magnet-to-magnet connection, as magnet-to-metal exhibits will cause your booth graphics to have alignment issues. Our channel bars attach to our popup frame magnetically, which means they can be attached to your exhibit much more quickly than those that need to “snap” into place.

How will my popup display ship?

Your entire exhibit will ship in a durable, rugged shipping case that is specifically designed for popup displays. One compartment within the case is designed to hold the graphics, while the other compartment will hold your hardware. The lights for your popup fit neatly into the lid, which leaves you with plenty of extra room to store literature and other accessories within your case.

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Alumalite Display Accessories

Posted by Andy Keeler on September 11, 2008
Trade Show Accessories, Trade Show Displays, Trade Show Graphics / No Comments

Alumalite displays are one of the most popular exhibits on the market today, and MODdisplays offers the widest range of stocked accessories for this system. The structure of Alumalite displays is made from lightweight, durable, and versatile aluminum extrusions, which allows you to add accessories even after the display has been set up. It is now possible to purchase many Alumalite accessories a la carte from our online store. Here are just a few examples of the Alumalite accessories you can purchase:

If you have any questions or need help with ordering your Alumalite accessories, give us a call at 877.663.3976 or email

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Large Format Printing

Posted by Andy Keeler on September 06, 2008
Articles, Trade Show Graphics / No Comments

Large Format PrinterThe most important element of your trade show exhibit is the graphics. Well-designed graphics should contain your company’s logo, positioning statement, and memorable imagery that grabs the attention of visitors and attendees. Large format printing is the process by which your design files are transformed into the huge graphics that should be the focal point of your booth. Given the enormous scale of typical trade show display graphics, it’s obvious that producing these graphics requires expensive equipment and experienced professionals.

Two types of large format prints dominate the trade show landscape, and those are thermally laminated inkjet graphics and dye sublimated fabric graphics. Both of these processes have seen numerous advancements over the past five to ten years resulting in much higher print quality, longer lasting prints, and quicker turnaround times. Quality varies greatly in the world of large format printing, but MODdisplays graphics specialists understand what materials and procedures result in the best output, and we choose our vendors accordingly.

Inkjet Graphics

Inkjet graphics are the standard for graphic popup displays and detachable graphics. Inkjet print heads use tiny nozzles to squirt ink onto the paper. These nozzles are thinner than a human hair, allowing the printer to make very small dots that eventually come together as a large image. Printers with smaller, more precise nozzles are able to print at a higher DPI rating (dots-per-inch), which means the image will be more crisp and clear. Many inkjet printers are capable of printing at well over 1200 DPI, although it is often pointed out that the human eye cannot tell the difference between 500 and 600 DPI.

Inkjet graphics are often less expensive than dye sublimated fabric graphics, but this has little to do with the actual quality of the prints (although dye sublimated fabric graphics are capable of a much higher print quality than inkjet printers). Large format inkjet printers are extremely inexpensive, easy to use, and capable of producing high-quality prints, which means that there are literally thousands of small printing operations out there. This is simultaneously a benefit and drawback to consumers. More printing companies obviously means more competition and lower prices, but it also means that there are many unqualified printing companies out there with inexperienced technicians and outdated machines. Because the quality of the paper and ink varies greatly, it can be hard to tell if you’re purchasing a quality product or if the printing company is cutting corners to save money.

For most trade show applications, inkjet prints need to be finished. This is usually accomplished with a thermal laminate, but pressure sensitive laminates are also popular among bargain basement printing companies. Thermal laminates are typically scratch-resistant, and they make your graphics more rigid and durable. For popup displays, your thermally laminated inkjet graphics will need to be finished with hangers, kickers, and magnetic strips so that the graphics can hang from the frame of your exhibit.

Dye Sublimated Fabric Graphics

Dye sublimation is a process by which your image is essentially burned into a durable, washable fabric. Your image is initially printed on a coated transfer paper as a mirror image of your final graphic, and is then transferred to the fabric using a heat press with rollers that operate between 300 and 450 degrees. When passing through the rollers, the ink is heated until it “sublimates” (changes from a solid to a gaseous state without passing through the liquid state). The gas then permeates the fibers of the fabric and solidifies, which permanently dyes the fabric. Because the fabric is permanently dyed, dye sublimated fabric is machine washable.

Dye sublimated fabric graphics can be produced at a much higher quality than inkjet graphics for two reasons. First, inkjet inks are not capable of changing colors. By changing the temperature of the heating elements in the print heads, dye sub printers are able to vary the shade of the colored panels. Inkjet printers simply place dots on paper, so dithering must be used to create the appearance of solid colors. Secondly, inkjet ink is completely opaque, which means that dots cannot be laid over top of one another. Dye sub ink is transparent, which means that colors can be placed on top of one another to create true solid color gradients.

Despite these advantages, there are a few disadvantages associated with dye sublimation printers. First, dye sub printers cannot achieve true black. Inkjet printers are able to print a rich, glossy black color, while dye sub printers cannot. Also, dye sublimation printing companies invest huge amounts of money to be able to print dye sublimated fabric. It may cost upwards of $200,000 to outfit a space with the equipment needed to create high-quality dye sublimated fabric graphics.

Large format printing is an ever-changing field with many variables. It can be difficult to know exactly what type of graphic you’re purchasing without examining a sample of the graphic in person. At MODdisplays, we stake our reputation on our top quality trade show graphics produced by the best graphic houses in the country. We constantly receive compliments on our graphics packages as well as our graphic design department, and we intend to maintain our reputation as an industry leading provider of large format graphics.

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Vector vs. Raster Artwork

Posted by Andy Keeler on September 06, 2008
Trade Show Graphics / No Comments

When designing trade show graphics, it is often important to know the difference between vector and raster artwork. Not every image is suitable for use on your booth display, because many images will appear grainy and pixelated when they are scaled up to the correct size. Understanding the difference between vector and raster artwork will make a big difference in the images you choose for your graphics.

Vector Artwork

Vector artwork is usually produced using illustration software (such as Adobe Illustrator), and it is always comprised of mathematically-drawn lines and shapes. For this reason, scaling up (or magnifying) vector artwork almost never results in a loss in quality. The word “vector” implies magnitude and direction, and that is exactly what vector artwork captures. In order to increase the size of this type of graphic, you simply need to increase the magnitude and direction in proportion.

Raster Artwork

Raster images are usually produced using digital photography or photo-editing programs (such as Adobe Photoshop).  Raster images are comprised of tiny blocks of color called “pixels”, which are aligned in a grid in order to form images. Unlike vector images, raster images cannot be magnified without the risk of pixelation. Increasing the size of a raster image forces the design program to add pixels that were not captured in the original photograph or drawing, which results in fuzzy or blurry images.

Whenever possible, MODdisplays recommends using vector images in the design of your trade show displays. Vector images will always look crisp and sharp no matter how big you make them. Since all photographs are raster files, nearly all booth graphics will utilize at least a few raster images. If you plan to use a photograph in the design of your exhibit, we recommend viewing the file at 100% (the actual size you will want the image to appear on your graphic) on your monitor. If the file appears blurry when viewed at 100%, then the resolution is too low. Low resolution files result in poor print quality.

Stock photography websites such as iStockPhoto and GettyImages are a great resource for high-quality raster photographs. Files can be purchased in a variety of sizes, and usually the “large” size is good enough to provide a crisp, clean image when printed. When in doubt, you can always send your files to and we will check them out for you. At MODdisplays, we never print low resolution or low quality files, because all of our graphics go through a rigorous screening and proofing process.

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Using Banner Stands in High Traffic Areas

Posted by Andy Keeler on September 05, 2008
Banner Stands, Trade Show Graphics / 1 Comment

Banner Stands in High Traffic AreasBanner stands work well in high traffic areas because the graphic area of the banner is enormous relative to the footprint of the banner. Using a number of banner stands in a row or in a staggered formation creates the illusion of a wall, which can be used for crowd control or simply as marketing space. Many companies have found that placing banner stands in airports, shopping malls, and other high traffic areas yields a good response from passing pedestrians, which should be the goal of any marketing program.

MODdisplays recommends using Expand Quickscreen 3 banner stands (see the picture in this post for an image of a pair of small Quickscreen 3 units) in high traffic areas because of their stability and large graphic area. Also, thanks to the graphic cartridge that comes standard in all Expand Quickscreen 3 banner stands, the banner stand graphic can be swapped out in a matter of seconds. These systems can be used in pedestrian environments in the same way billboards are used in automotive environments, so the ability to quickly change graphics is a plus for advertisers.

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Typography in Exhibit Design

Typography plays an important but often underestimated role in exhibit design. The font used in the design of a trade show display will often make a bigger impression upon attendees than the words themselves. Attendees and the general public are largely unaware of the influence that font choices can have on purchasing decisions, and you can use this to your advantage as an exhibitor.

Typical exhibiting goals include increasing brand recognition, generating positive brand association, marketing products and/or services, and distributing promotional literature, and typography can play a key role in helping you to meet those goals. It is important to be aware of what message you’re sending when you use particular fonts so that you can have tighter control of your company’s brand. Here’s a few brief points to ponder that may help you make better design choices when laying out the graphics for your trade show booth.

Over 90% of corporations use Helvetica-based or Helvetica-like font faces in their corporate logos. MODdisplays company logo uses a Helvetica-based font. Stripped of their ornamentation, Helvetica based fonts are very readable. Letters that are sized and spaced proportionally give viewers a strong sense of relatedness and order. Sans-serif Helvetica-based fonts give potential clients the sense that your company is made up of people like them, which instills confidence and promotes spending. We highly recommend using proportionally spaced type faces in company logos and slogans, as well as “skimming material”.

If unadorned fonts are more readable, why aren’t they used in books and magazines? Over the past thirty years, it has been consistently proven that serifed fonts are easier on the eye when reading large blocks of text. The serifed edges allow the eye to pass smoothly from one word to the next, which allows for increased reading speed and comfort. Visit any typography-focused website (one of my favorites is, and you’ll notice that (in general) headings and titles are displayed in sans-serif fonts and large blocks of text are displayed in serifed fonts.

Typography is a seemingly limitless field where the possibilities for learning are endless. Devoting some time to understanding why certain fonts are chosen will increase the quality and visibility of your trade show graphic design, and will hopefully generate some more leads for your company.

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Increased Interest in Hanging Signs

Posted by Andy Keeler on July 15, 2008
Trade Show Accessories, Trade Show Graphics / No Comments

Hanging signs offer an excellent way for a growing company to move into island exhibits and still keep a high-end, impressive image without spending a ton of money.  We have seen a huge increased interest for hanging signs and we contribute much of that interest to the great return on investment that they offer.   Basically for a relatively small amount of money, trade show attendees can see your logo and branding from all around the exhibit floor.  I know this is obvious but think about the impact of burning your logo and brand imaging in the mind of a potential customer and since the logo is so large and hovering high above the exhibit floor the impression is that much greater.

Many companies who are new to the larger exhibits and are used to setting up smaller displays can feel a bit overwhelmed about utilizing a hanging sign but it is easier then you may think.  Here are a couple of good points about MODdisplays hanging signs:  Our prices are very competitive for a turnkey sign that is ready for use when it arrives at your show.   Set up for these signs is 15 to 35 minutes depending size.  Production is 3 to 5 days on most signs.  Increased interest has resulted in show organizers better addressing the need by using simple order forms in your exhibitor handbook to have them set up the sign, often before you even arrive.  Also, we offer numerous shapes, sizes and accessories, like internal lighting or rotation harnesses so you are sure to be able to find the sign that compliments your new or exhisting display.

You can browse our online store for the shape that meets your needs and use the pull down menu to adjust the sizing or feel free to call us up to discuss all your options.

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Exhibit One Workstations

Exhibit One is by far our most flexible and user-friendly exhibit system. Exhibit One Workstations are large kiosks designed to hold plasma screen monitors. These unique-looking trade show display systems act as a multimedia hub for your entire trade show booth, and can be tied in with a number of other exhibit components to create a very custom look.

Exhibit One Workstation

Like every Exhibit One display we offer, our Exhibit One Workstations come with every accessory you can dream of built right into the system. The canopy is equipped with pre-installed down lighting that casts the perfect amount of light on your counter and back wall graphic (without overwhelming and distracting from your view of the monitor). Literature shelves and product holders are available, and can be added to the system even after the entire display has been set up.

The back wall graphic is made from a dye sublimated fabric that is durable and washable, which reduces the overall cost of ownership of the booth. Despite the massive presence of this multimedia system, the entire unit can be packed and shipped in a single wheeled case via UPS or FedEx, which will save your company thousands in transportation costs. As always, the designers of the Exhibit One displays we offer are constantly looking for ways to make exhibiting more convenient, effective, and affordable.

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Simple Design, Big Impact

Designing trade show graphics can be a daunting challenge, especially for a graphic designer who lacks experience in large format printing. Using bold images and large text is a great way to garner attention, but it may weaken your marketing efforts if the final product does not reflect well on your company. Creating a simple design for your exhibit is easy, but creating a simple design that communicates your company’s message is a challenge for any designer.

XR Wave Simple

So how do you know you can trust MODdisplays to create a professional, simple graphic design that will work for your company?

  • We staff professional graphic designers that are well trained in the principles of exhibit design. Our graphic designers understand the need for high-impact graphics that are simple enough to convey your message in a short amount of time. Having spent time interacting with exhibits and attending trade shows, our exhibit designers understand what it takes to exhibit well.
  • Browse our website to find past examples of high-quality exhibit design. Our clean, modern approach is recognized across the portable trade show industry, and is easily distinguishable from the graphic design work of other companies. Our graphic design department works much like a marketing firm by analyzing your exhibiting goals and creating a solution that effectively presents your company to your target audience.
  •  Compare the design of our website to the design of other websites in our industry. When you realize how little time and effort other companies spend on their own marketing presence, why would you trust them with your marketing presence? In the same way that our website is simple, clean, and intuitive, our large format graphic design is simple, clean, and effective.
  • Because we offer our graphic design services for free, you can rest assured that you’ll never waste a single dollar on graphic design with MODdisplays. Even if you staff your own graphic designers, why not save their time for something else and put our designers to work for you?

You only have three seconds to grab the attention of a passing visitor or attendee, so make those seconds count by utilizing MODdisplays free exhibit graphic design services.

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Expand Media Screens

Posted by Andy Keeler on May 29, 2008
Banner Stands, Trade Show Displays, Trade Show Graphics / No Comments

Expand Media ScreenExpand Media Screens are high-quality banner stands with a sleek, modern appeal. Finishing touches such as chrome end caps, chrome feet, and stylish design set these banner stands apart as a great solution for any exhibitor. Every Expand Media Screen we sell comes with a lifetime warranty on the hardware, so if anything ever breaks you can rest assured that it will be repaired or replaced in a timely manner.

Expand has manufactured more banner stands than any other company. Although they boast “Swedish Quality”, you’ll notice a “Made in China” sticker on the bottom of every Expand banner stand out there. Unlike other Chinese-made products, Expand banner stands are incredibly high-quality products that are held to rigorous standards. An Expand product feels much more substantial (although not necessarily heavier) when it is held in your hand, and the quality is immediately evident.

Expand made its name by producing the Quickscreen Banner Stand, which is the best-selling banner stand in history. Today, the Media Screen has replaced the Quickscreen as the new banner stand of choice among picky exhibitors.

If you have any questions about the Expand banner stands we offer, give us a call at 877.663.3976 or email

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