Wind Tunnel Testing Vinyl Banners
eSigns is the only sign company to scientifically test our vinyl banners in an actual wind tunnel using different vinyl substrates, finishing options, and installation procedures to identify the SPOF (Single Point of Failure) for each vinyl banner system.
The Journey that Led Us To Wind Tunnel Test Vinyl Banners
When we began constructing banners for our customers, eSigns was the first online banner printer to finish our banners with heat welded folded over hems and include grommets at no extra charge. Our reasoning for being one of the first printers to include reinforced finishing options such as welded hems and grommets was to ensure our customer's banners would last longer, be easier to install, and represent our customers better while displaying outdoors.
Always Striving For Perfection
During our tenure in the banner printing business, eSigns constantly strives to provide our customers with exceptional customer service and cutting edge quality print products. We are always looking at new potential trends in banner substrates, identifying newly configured finishing options, testing proper installation tips, and we couldn't think of a better way to test a banner's integrity than subject them to wind tunnel testing.
Research & Planning Our Wind Tunnel Testing
Our wind tunnel planning procedures started by defining the three primary factors that impact the life of any vinyl banner.
- 1.) The vinyl substrate used in the printing of a banner for durability.
- 2.) The finishing options that are included in a banner's construction.
- 3.) The fasteners and methods used during the installation of a banner.
Defining The Questions We Wanted to Test
In concluding the three primary factors that play an integral role in determining the durability, presentation value, and life of a banner, we narrowed our discovery list to five important questions:
- 1.) What is the impact in terms of durability vinyl substrates provide when constructing banners?
- 2.) Does the inclusion of folded hems impact the stress a banner can endure in the elements?
- 3.) If hems are included, does the construction of a hem impact the strength of a banner?
- 4.) Do the number of grommeted holes used in the installation affect how well a banner can withstand wind?
- 5.) Are there advantages in using certain fastening methods over others in the installation of a banner?
Based on the questions we wanted to answer, we concluded which test prototype banners we wanted to construct for our wind tunnel testing day and began to create a banner for each testing scenario using each of the vinyl material substrates we offer.
Substrates included our popular 13 ounce gloss vinyl we use to make our standard banner products, our 18 ounce matte finished vinyl we use to print our heavy duty banners, our 13 ounce smooth matte finished vinyl used primarily for indoor banners due to its exceptional non glare lighting properties, and our 8 and 12 ounce mesh vinyl used for outdoor banners.
Configuring Finishing Options
Surmising that finishing options play a formidable role in a banner's durability and secure installation, we created our prototype banners with known print industry finishes in order to conclude which finish is better suited for durability.
The variety of finishing options we made included:
Testing a banner with no hems & no grommets
Some of our competitors do not include hems, so we wanted to test the integrity of a hemless banner when subjected to wind.
Testing a banner with grommets but no hems
Some of our competitors will include grommet holes without making a reinforced folded over hem, so we wanted to explore the wind speed failure point of a hemless grommeted banner.
Testing banners with only four grommets
Many print shops provide banners with grommets in only the corners opposed to spacing grommets for extra durability and reinforcement, and we wanted to see what impact this had on the installation integrity of a banner.
Testing Banners with grommets fastened every 19" to 36"
eSigns has always includes grommets every 19 to 36 inches depending on the size of a banner, and we wanted to confirm our hypothesis that using grommets in a banner's installation with this spacing ratio provides maximum strength and support.
Testing a vinyl banner with sewn hems
Many printers have contended that a threaded sewn in hem is stronger than a welded hem, so we wanted to identify if, in fact, a hem sewn stitched banner is stronger or weaker than welded hems.
Testing Installation Fastening Products
How a banner is fastened when installed will impact how well a banner holds up to environmental conditions, so we decided to put a variety of fasteners to the the wind tunnel test in order to better recommend preferred methods of fastening banners for any venue or event.
The variety of fastening devices tested included:
Testing Bungee Cords
We wanted to test the speculation that the stretch qualities of a bungee cord will provide flexibility in the fastening of a banner which allows wind to more easily spill from the banner preventing tearing.
Testing Rope as a Fastening Device
We decided to test the viability of using rope to fasten banners in order to measure what advantages, if any, rope might provide.
Testing 120 pound and 175 pound zip ties
Zip ties are commonly used for installing banners, so we wanted to test what difference existed between using the thicker 175 pound zip ties opposed to the more commonly known 120 pound thinner zip ties.
Banner Wind Tunnel Testing Results
The results discovered when testing the variety of substrates, and installation configurations provided us with some surprisingly interesting insights as to what are the major contributing factors that lead to the failure of a vinyl banner.
Vinyl Banner Substrates
The 13 ounce gloss banner vs the extra denier of our matte vinyl banner failed at almost the exact same time and wind speed. Both 13 ounce banners did breakdown slightly before the 18 ounce heavy duty banner, but the time difference was very minimal.
We noticed that the 12 ounce and 8 ounce mesh vinyl banners with their webbed porous construction did reduce the bellowing affect better than the solid banners, but the eventual failure of the mesh banners occurred within very close proximity to each other and the solid banners tested.
After subjecting all of the banners we tested to the same wind speed and acceleration intervals, we found that all of the vinyl substrates used held up very well and were the least of the contributing factors that lead to any of the banner's SPOF (single point of failure).
Banner Finishing Option
The banner with no grommets or hems was the first to fail, and the banner with grommet holes placed on the edges without including hems was a close second. The third banner to fail was the welded hem banner with grommet holes only in the four corners.
The sewed banner helped keep the grommets from completely tearing loose, but we found that the stitched thread had a shredding effect like a cheese knife, turning the banner into what looked like spaghetti. Even in minimal wind speeds the sewn banner became un-presentable very quickly.
It turns out correct in how we at eSigns finish our banners all along. The welded hems with metal grommets spaced every 19 inches was found to be the more durable of all the banners we tested.
Proper Fasteners for Banners
In testing the fasteners for installing the banners, we found rope and bungee cords to be pretty close to each other in terms of the wind speeds they could sustain prior to failure. Bungee tied banners did seem to provide some flexibility allowing the wind to spill, but roped banners also held up very well.
When testing the difference in failure rates between the 120 pound and 175 pound zip ties, we did notice a major difference. 175 lb zip ties sustained much higher wind speeds than the 120 lb zip ties. However, the 120 lb zip tied banners, we feel, would be more than acceptable in normal weather conditions
Wind Tunnel Test Conclusions
As a result of wind testing vinyl banners, we were able to conclude that the installation mounting procedures combined with the proper finishing is the primary factor that helps prolong the life of any vinyl banner. Grommets spaced every 19 inches to 36 inches, and using all grommet holes for installation is also paramount to ensuring a banner's integrity in outdoor conditions. Not using all of the grommet holes when fastening your banner to any surface will absolutely subject a banner to tearing or ripping prematurely.
After many hours of wind tunnel testing came to an end, and all the data was compiled, we were able to confirm that our years of perfecting the process of making quality printed banners has served our customers well. We pride ourselves in taking the extra steps to test our banner construction practices to ensure we continue to provide our customers with only quality print products. Our commitment to excellence for our customers will always be the eSigns difference.