The Ultimate Guide to Roller Banner Printing

Roller Banners are a convenient, easily transportable and low cost way to promote your product, service, or brand at meetings and events.  As a result, they are by far, the most common form of display advertising.


Consisting of a spring-loaded base unit mechanism and a printed graphic panel which retracts into the mechanism when not in use, they are most commonly available in widths ranging from 800mm wide to 2400mm wide and usually stand at around 2000mm high although there are a few smaller specialist designed for small spaces and table-top use.


Also known as pull-up banners, pull-up displays, pop-up banners and pop-up displays, a quick search on the internet will reveal a wide range of similarly looking products with an incredibly diverse range of prices. Including a printed graphic, the price range for roller banners starts at around £24 and go up to around £250.


So why such a wide range of prices for roller banners?


Of course, the bigger the banner, the more expensive it tends to be but that’s about where common sense stops.


Just because they look the same, doesn’t actually mean they are the same. If you doubt this, just ask someone who has inadvertently bought a fake Rolex!


Choosing the right Roller Banner Mechanism


In fact, the base mechanisms vary wildly in quality and so do the printed graphic panels but it’s relatively easy to avoid making a disappointing purchase if you understand which features matter and what to look out for.


At first, it may seem a little pointless to learn about something with such a relatively low purchase price but it’s rarely the initial cost where the real money is lost. Imagine you turn up to your event and you can’t get your roller banner to stand up right, or the image is poorly printed. How does this impact on your brand image? Worse still, you’ve turned up at your event and it falls apart when you try to put it up or you can’t get it back in the mechanism because the spring has broken. Frankly it’s just embarrassing.


You’re probably thinking that surely it’s not legal to sell something that’s not fit for purpose? And this is the point. You need to be very clear about what exactly is your purpose?


If you take the time to read the description on cheaper roller banners, you’ll often see words like ‘designed for those on tight budgets’ , ‘ideal for single use’ or ‘designed for light use’ and this should be your first clue that it probably won’t be very good quality.


We have tested dozens of stands to find an economical but most importantly, reliable unit. The vast majority of budget stands failed even the most basic of tests. Common problems included:


  • Not standing up straight, either leaning forward or backward
  • Graphic support poles not fitting into the pole mounting correctly
  • Stability feet not turning out or snapping off
  • Graphic retraction springs not being strong enough or breaking
  • Weak or poorly designed graphic support bars
  • Not enough room within the mechanism for a reasonable quality graphic
  • Carry cases so tight, it’s virtually impossible to get the mechanism back in


Of course, if your stand arrives with any of these problems you’d probably be well within your rights to return it – at your cost – and that won’t help anyway if you only discover the problem at the time you actually need to use the stand.


Fundamentally, there are two types of base unit: those with a rotating foot or feet for stability and those without.


Stands with no feet are better for high traffic areas where protruding feet could easily become a trip hazard and by their very nature, roller banner mechanisms like this generally have a heavier build and therefore tend to be better quality. Unsurprisingly, they’re also more expensive.


Roller banner stands with feet tend to be cheaper and whilst there are some very acceptable makes available, there are others you’d be better avoiding.


Here are a few tips to help you decide which roller banner stands to avoid:


  1. If there is no brand name for the stand, it’s a tell-tale sign the quality will be poor.

Sadly, you’ll rarely be able to identify a cheap roller banner by its name as most vendors selling these types of stand tend to leave them unbranded.


  1. If it’s described as cheap, they’re not just talking about the price!

Whilst “you get what you pay for” doesn’t always hold true it’s probably accurate 80% of the time so we’d be inclined to avoid search results that include the word ‘cheap’, ‘economy’ or ‘budget’.


  1. Look for products with decent guarantees.

All good quality products will be backed with a decent guarantee so if you can’t see a guarantee it’s probably best not to buy.


  1. Check how the graphic is fixed to the graphic header bar.

Poorer quality stands often have the graphic panel fixed to the header bar with self-adhesive tape whilst better quality stands use a snap-fix system.


The stand mechanism is an important part of the product but so is the actual graphic panel itself. This is the printed part of the stand that is used to advertise your product or service.

Like with the stand mechanisms themselves, there are lots of printable materials used for roller banners; some specifically designed for the use and some not.


To save money, some producers use cheap plastic designed for other purposes such as outdoor vinyl banners. This has a number of disadvantages:


  1. It’s not a light block material so bright lights can shine through it
  2. It stretches more so can start to look baggy
  3. It’s more likely to curl at the edges


Materials designed for roller banners have a light-block backing; often in a silver colour. This stops lights, behind the stand from shining through and ruining your graphic. The backing also adds extra dimensional stability to the material helping to prevent it from stretching, or curling.


Generally, companies that don’t have the most appropriate printing equipment to produce roller banner graphics, will use inappropriate materials too as the right type of material is not manufactured for the wrong make of printing machine.


A good material for roller banners is therefore…


What printing technologies are good and not so good for roller banners?


Aqueous Printers are extremely common and use ‘water based’ technology to produce prints. Whilst they print bright colours extremely well onto a variety of special coated materials and the prints dry quickly, they are not resistant to UV light and can fade in sunlight. In indoor conditions, this is not usually a problem however, images printed with this technology also smudge when wet and scratch very easily meaning it is not ideal for roller banners unless laminated first which generally adds to the cost.


UV Printing is commonly found on flat-bed printing machines designed to print directly to rigid materials. Many of these machines also have roll-feed attachments to enable printing onto flexible materials too. It is sunlight and water resistant but can still scratch easily; especially on certain materials. Because of this, it’s wise to laminate roller banners printed with this method.


Solvent printing is suitable for most applications the solvent inks adhere well to plastics to form a waterproof and weatherproof print that’s scratch resistant and doesn’t need laminating. However, solvents generate noxious fumes that need extraction and the inks are slow to dry needing 24 hours to fully cure. This makes it impossible to offer roller banners with rapid dispatch using this method of printing.


Latex printing has the advantages of each of these systems and almost no disadvantages. The colours are sharp and images print clearly. Drying is virtually instant with no unpleasant fumes and the prints are virtually impossible to scratch and won’t smudge or fade. There is no need for lamination when Latex printing is used on Roller Banners. Because of this, we would recommend Latex Printing as our preferred option for printing roller banner graphics.


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