In order to confront the growing issue of sustainability, the approach of signage fraternity as a whole is pretty focused towards maintaining overall eco-friendly attributes.
Sustainability is a topic that hasn’t left any sector untouched, and signage industry is no different. Most signage solution providers have by now shown their inclination towards newer technologies and sustainable materials that could be used in the current scheme of things for making a signage. In order to explore how sustainability is slowly making inroads into the Indian signage industry, we at Sign & POP World contacted with a few manufacturers/suppliers of media, ink, machinery, etc. The aim was to understand how ready is the industry in adopting all this for the sake of our future generations, and what challenges are the industry stakeholders facing in this regard.
As far as sustainability in signage industry is concerned, the most talked about material is media, which at the same time is the most important component when it comes to creating a signage. It has been observed that in an attempt to grab attention, many brands try to outdo each other with the biggest, best and flashiest graphics. This is because the quality of graphics can make or break a brand’s success. But it is also important to note that these graphics, if not sustainable, put a serious strain on the environment. It is therefore important to replace them with more sustainable, recyclable and high-quality materials that have already entered the market and are readily available for use.
Many of the available materials i.e. inks, solvents, and substrates that have been used in large format printing in many printed solutions for decades are far from being eco- friendly. In fact, traditional print solutions, particularly solvent-heavy inks and plastic-based materials, are far from being sustainable as these can generate significant emissions. The industry though has admitted to some extent but it is yet far from being practiced in general. In the mean time, clients across the allied industries are not only more aware of this – they’re more insistent that the signage industry must address it.
AREAS OF CONCERN
Fortunately, this is also one of the key areas of innovation when it comes to approach and infusion of technology. Print solution suppliers are becoming more concerned with sourcing and supplying greener alternatives to suit changing client demands, and this, in turn, is instigating suppliers to move towards greener substrates, inks, and other materials. There shouldn’t be any surprise that businesses now are making strong commitments to considerably reducing their carbon footprint, and this focus is having a direct impact on the businesses in their supply chains – that means solution providers better start thinking about these Green things, or they will be finding themselves as outdated in front of the new, greener alternative solutions.
Substrates which came as an alternative to flex claim that these are not only recyclable, but also have the capability to lend signages a sophisticated and updated look that will make heads turn and impress the target audience. Keeping this in view for an industry overview, we also approached Inks, Printers manufacturers/suppliers as well as LEDs suppliers and tried finding out how sustainable they are and why should one simply rely on their words. We also tried to find out how they measure the sustainability of their materials and the parameters of sustainability.
Media or substrates are the inevitables when it comes to printed signage. These are the things that actually get ‘printed on’ during a project, and by virtue of being involved with large format print these substrates also have a pivotal role in sustainability. The very common are the traditional substrates which are highly PVC-based. This is problematic, simply because the production, use, and disposal of PVC-based products involve heavily toxic, non-biodegradable materials migrating into the environment.
Whilst PVC has presented a quick, easy, and affordable solution for printers, it’s not been a particularly green solution, but fortunately, that’s changing. Soft signage with coated fabric is now available with many Indian suppliers, and these are seemingly very actively embraced by many clients. The manufacturers of such substances have completed many projects recently using fabric light box & banners and that are set to be recycled rather than thrown away.
Sun Printable Fabric
Defining sustainability, Deepak Girotra, Director, Sun Printable Fabric Pvt. Ltd., says, “Sustainability, as per our understanding is following the processes in manufacturing of processed/coated fabrics so that it does not degrade the environment during the life cycle/manufacturing of products. Also, the company should fulfil its moral responsibility by adhering to self imposed principles of environment sustainability rather than following the government imposed regulations.”
Talking on how sustainable is their manufacturing process, he remarks, “We fulfil our duty as a responsible manufacturer of 21st century with an aim is to improve the standard of living and education of all our co-workers, who are part of life cycle of our printable fabrics manufacturing. We, in fact, follow the global principles of sustainability in all factory operations and accordingly stick to the international best practices in our operations.”
He goes on to add that as a manufacturer, one of the most important practices that his company follows is zero discharge of water in the environment during the whole process of cleaning/coating of the fabrics and then reusing all the water during various stages of the process. “We keep encouraging our employees to strictly adhere to this practice as a moral responsibility. Apart from that, we use recycled polyester fabric as our raw fabric for coating to make printable media for signage industry. We also make 100% biodegradable cotton fabric.”
According to Girotra, the company is about to receive accreditations of various processes including (a) GRS (Global Recycle Standard – A holistic certification for printable fabrics with a recycled content), (b) REACH Certification (for the use of chemical in coating of printable fabrics), (c) FTP (Fair Trade Practices to address the concern of holistic upliftment of all the workers involved in manufacturing life cycle of our products) (d) ISO-9001 certification and (e) GOTS certification (Global Organic Textile Standard Certificate).
“Our company is adopting these practices as a responsible manufacturer of world class printable coated fabrics, both polyester and cotton, rather than implementing the government-driven policies, which are yet to get listed and formalised,” asserts Girotra, adding that although manufacturers are trying their best but the onus for change has to be taken by the users first. “It has started happening on the ground as lot of government departments/listed companies/foreign companies are very eager to use our printable fabrics rather than opting for any other cheaper materials. We thank them that they took this social responsibility.”
Girotra very strongly believes the time is right for India to get ready for sustainable signage solutions. “We have to show maturity in our thinking. It’s good time to take moral responsibility of environmental warriors and insist ourselves on using PVC-free printable solutions for branding/hoardings etc. Until and unless, we as a community of manufacturers/printers/applicators do not adhere to self-imposed principle of using and manufacturing the PVC-free products, the whole idea of sustainability will be in theory and it will take years to implement if left to the government imposing it.”
Girotra is also the president of the newly created association – All India Printable Fabric Manufacturer Association – wherein there are 10 members as of now. “PVC-free fabric for signage industry is our passion. It is evident from the fact that it took only six years to develop nine products/variants in commercial printable fabric, that too, when there was no such announcements or ban on flex, thereby guaranteeing a fail-proof secure future for us.”
Sun Fabric is in this business from 2014. “We have been in the business of manufacturing printable fabrics for last six years. It was the time when everybody believed that PVC flex cannot be replaced due to its sheer durability and availability for use in advertising/branding industry. Today, by bringing the policy of stopping single use plastics, our government is going extra mile to spread the message of switching to sustainable. Some of the states like Kerala and Karnataka have already banned it and more are likely to follow suit,” avers Girotra.
Universal Products – EcoSigns
Sharing his valuable thought on the issue, Dipen Mehta, Director, Universal Products, says, “While manufacturing signages, we must strictly use materials which are not only PVC-free but also recyclable. If the materials used are just PVC-free but not recyclable then these will be required to be disposed off. Some of the common methods used for disposals are landfills, dumping into water bodies, or burning. All these methods are extremely harmful to environment and our ecosystem.”
As per Mehta, EcoSigns manufactures and supplies PVC-free and recyclable materials to corporates, government organisations and event management companies. Our innovation, EcoSigns, is Polyethylene (PE)-based, is PVC-free and recyclable. It is compatible with all printing technologies i.e. solvent, eco-solvent and UV that are currently available in India. We made this innovation and introduced this in India with the vision to produce ‘Zero Waste’ from the digital printing industries.
Explaining the recyclability attribute of EcoSigns, Mehta says, “PE EcoSigns materials will go to Plastic Recycling plant and will get recycled, creating granules which can be reused to make other plastic products. This, therefore, helps reducing solid waste generated from advertising and branding industries. Today, solid waste in every city, town, and village is the biggest concern.”
He is of the opinion that a wise mind will switch to sustainable solutions to save the planet. “Concerned authorities by support of corporates and signage industry must take lead immediately in demanding and utilising only PVC-free recyclable materials for their branding requirements. The biggest advantage is that these inputs are readily available and we are able to reach out to many printers and corporates in Kerala, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh,” says Mehta cautioning that sooner the PSPs and companies come to know that recyclable materials is the right solution, the better it will be for the environment.
Mehta believes that people have understood the bad impact of PVC-flex and are ready to switch to alternatives, but they lack true guidelines and test reports to move ahead. “In this ambiguity, they have started using just PVC-free or PVC-coated polyester or many so-called fabric materials available in the market without checking their authenticity. We genuinely feel sorry for corporates, which in the process have ended up with just PVC-free or PVC-coated fabrics without knowing the test reports,” he says claiming that none of the test reports of the alternatives, suggested by different dealers are carrying recyclable test reports other than PE EcoSigns.
He rather thinks that declaration of materials being PVC-free and recyclable without the test reports is just a misguidance to industries and buyers. So, what would be the ways to avoid? “We suggest all the buyers, mainly corporats, to insist on the recyclable test reports of the materials if so suggested by any printer or dealer and check the same for authenticity. Another way is to take the onus oneself and get the samples of the suggested materials, take it to the plastic recycling plant and check for their recycling possibilities,” suggests Mehta adding that Government of Kerala in its recent order has clearly guided to use only cotton cloth (uncoated), paper or recyclable polyethylene materials to replace PVC-flex in the state.
To let the industry know all this, the company is trying to spread awareness among the decision makers of big corporates, material dealers and digital print service providers (PSPs) regarding the difference between recyclable and non-recyclable materials, and the need of the hour to give signage industries a genuine survival point. “Through the platform that ‘Sign & POP World’ has provided us, we would like to request all the concerned people of the signage industry to switch to PVC-free recyclable materials for a better tomorrow. If the use of non-recyclable materials continues then it will be difficult for the entire industry to survive as question of waste generated from the industries will be unresolved,” Mehta adds.
The company is not only getting demand for its PE EcoSigns from a quite a few brands for their branding requirements within India but also from the overseas players. “As far as overseas market is concerned, we are getting lots of enquiries from many parts of the world. Many countries are coming under law to stop using PVC-flex as well as other non-recyclable materials in near future. We are looking forward to providing them with genuine PVC-free recyclable materials and are currently in talk with many buyers abroad.”
Inks are one of most important materials to be discussed about when it comes to sustainability. The most common are solvents or eco-solvents (the latter as reported being less eco-friendly than it sounds). The name itself suggests that these exude a cocktail of chemical emissions when used, which isn’t good news for the planet. However, alternatives for the same have come in.
According to studies, UV-curing or water-based inks are far less harmful in terms of emissions. These inks are slowly picking up as price is still a deterrent in its growth. Apart from this, there are inks developed for paper & boards. Such specific inks easily break down during recycling. What’s notably helpful for print suppliers is how widely accessible these have become for use in some of the most popular print equipment.
In terms of sustainability especially for the display market, print products that can last for long periods of time outdoors without degrading in quality are extremely important, and fortunately, many of the eco-friendly inks (water-based, latex-based, etc.) are now of such a high standard that this isn’t a concern. Often, even the packaging for these products is made from card and is recyclable!
All these were points, which AT Inks highlights while speaking about the sustainability factor in inks. But the company seems more inclined towards the raw materials that go on as inputs while manufacturing these inks. According to the company, the intake as well as processes that are followed constitute major factors when it comes to produce eco-friendly sustainable inks.
Neerav Goswamy, Director, AT Inks, thinks differently when he says sustainability is a subjective word in itself especially when it comes to signage industry. “What is the limit of sustainability and what is considered Green is debatable! Having said that, I believe it is important that a holistic view is taken for the signage industry. Single-use plastic ban is a good initiative, however, calling some signage as single-use plastic is not the correct approach. Plastic provides durability and thus is the preferred way of working. However, paper which seems to be a more sustainable alternative uses huge quantities of water to make,” he elaborates.
A true sustainable definition in signage industry is to find ways to recycle some of the plastic that is being used. It is easier said than done, however, this approach of recyclability will make the sustainability program strong and a true solution to the problem. Explaining the sustainability issue in the inks, Goswamy, says, “In all our inks, we use ingredients with around 85-90% biodegradability which of course is very good. But yes, we can work on it to improve the biodegradability quotient. However, at the same time, everything is linked to costs and the system today does not allow for increase in costs due to which these efforts are dented.”
He feels that it is actually the cost factor, which is a deterrent to switch over to the sustainable solutions completely, especially when it comes to the country’s signage industry. “Indian consumers, advertisers and brand owners have to accept that sustainable solutions are possible. However, the viability of the same will change if they adapt to increased costs. And then the industry will be considered truly ready. In my opinion, our industry is focused only on the economics of printing. This attitude needs to change so as to spur innovation in the direction of sustainability.”
To that extent, there are quite a few challenges that come in the way. According to him, of all the challenges, barrier or mindset change is the biggest one. “Another is lack of acceptability of increased costs by the industry as a whole which creates bottlenecks in the way. Awareness about the cost of sustainability is yet to be spread among the end users as ultimately the burden is to be borne by them. Further, sustainability needs to be addressed in a manner that each stakeholder should know his/her responsibility,” he explains adding that compromises in quality may be required to be accepted by the end users as sustainable solutions generally are not as robust as the existing solutions, which is another big challenge.
“Although no clear standards are available nationally or globally to define the sustainability for the signage industry, our manufacturing set up is designed for sustainability. Our processes are designed to be as efficient as possible. We work to educate customers to use sustainable materials. Our manufacturing effluent treatment facilities are based on recycling all the water that we use in the manufacturing of pigments. What’s more, even our packaging materials are recyclable,”
It isn’t just the inks and substrates that have an impact on the environment, but the printers that actually use them. New print technology emerges every year, and while there has always been a spirit of innovation within the industry – finding ways to reduce print time, or improve quality – there has recently been a more notable push towards designing printers with sustainability in mind. Arguably more importantly than new inks, printers, or other hardware, is the shifting attitude of those involved at every stage of the large format supply chain. Experts insist that our industry is changing, and everyone, from clients to partners, appears to be changing the way they think.
HP’s Latex Inks & Printers
Possibly one of the best examples of this is HP’s move towards printers that use totally solvent-free inks. As one of the largest print equipment suppliers in the world, HP have become clearly and distinctly aware of their influence and potential power in changing the way large format printers operate in terms of sustainability, and they have committed to the production of equipment that fulfils these targets. HP Latex printers (such as the Latex 3500 or Latex 3600) don’t use any UV in the printing process, and utilise only water-based latex inks meaning thereby that no solvents are involved. To top it off, these printers don’t make any kind of compromise when it comes to quality or efficiency too, meaning print specialists don’t need to make a sacrifice in their output in the name of the planet.
According to the company, it’s not just that the industry as a whole has become more concerned of the impact on the planet, but it has started to care more than ever about changing it. The stakeholders are strongly willing to actively improve the output and processes, and it’s exciting to see how these are finding ways of helping one another to achieve this common goal. Meanwhile, awards and accreditations such as GreenGuard now exist to recognise products that actively contribute to the protection of the planet, and these aren’t just examples of GreenWashing, but are genuine accolades that are hard-earned, and well-deserved.
Similarly, it’s extremely positive to see original and creative initiatives and incentives emerging from print suppliers and industry-leading businesses. A great example is HP’s ‘take-back’ scheme – having committed to recycling 1.2 million tonnes of hardware and supplies by 2025, HP offers a disposal service of all kinds of their large format equipment, from ink cartridges to whole printers.
When it comes to printing solution providers, they have a very different approach towards sustainability in signage industry. “For the signage industry to move in accordance with the sustainability factor, focus has to be on maximising visual impact and minimising environmental impact, but to balance both at the same time is a complex goal. Sustainable communication is all about a well designed concept with intelligent choice of printing material and printing/finishing processes,” elaborates Sam Patel, Managing Director, Arrow Digital Pvt. Ltd.
According to him, basic substrate options prevalent are PVC based, but there are PVC-free alternatives now readily available. “We at Arrow help develop and promote direct print substrates to reduce the use of plastics and increase awareness for green products. Other important factor which should be considered while measuring sustainability is printing process and thus digital printing is ideal for sustainable communication. Analog along with many sub-standard printers that are available in the market require a lot of energy and VOCs, which are harmful to human health and the environment in general. EFI UV-LED inks with some others have been awarded environmental and work-place safety labels such as GreenGuard and GreenGuard Gold and thus are very safe for the environment.”
Patel opines that print industry in India is reinventing itself to be more vibrant than ever, especially in the multichannel communication world. “Sustainability is our key strategic message for Indian PSPs and corporate brands. In Arrow Digital, digital stands for digital printing/finishing solutions and our brand colour green stands for all the environment-friendly and sustainable products. Our products meet and exceed the highest sustainability practices with energy efficient LED inkjet technology and EFI Greenguard certified inks. We do offer eco-friendly recyclable materials from 3A composite like Dispa, Kapa, Smart-X, Diabond, etc., and also have developed new products like Arrow Green Boards, made from paper and is completely biodegradable, to replace PVC foam boards.”
He perceives that in this era of social platform, India’s youth is contributing a lot to the resilience of the communities by proposing innovative solutions. “Coming generation is the agent of change, and is mobilising to advance the sustainable signage goals for Indian printing industry. India is ready to adopt sustainable solutions which open the door for innovative green technologies. But the question here is, are we ready to pay the premium? Corporate brands are following international trends and acting more responsible for the environment, and are slowly adapting to eco-friendly solutions.”
Speaking on the challenges, Patel agrees that Indians feel comfortable with traditional processes. “We need to work hard to create awareness and bring the change. Sustainability in India has many definitions, every other technology provider says they offer sustainable solutions, thus it is very important to differentiate possible benefits, including environmental and social benefits of eco-printing. It might serve as a motivation to companies intending to pursue eco-printing but they keep looking at the entire process as a cost to them and this is our biggest challenge.”
Patel insists that Arrow Digital constantly keeps innovating and introducing new sustainable technologies from all over the world to the Indian market, thereby helping printers as well as corporate brands to update themselves on the latest trends. “We aim to pave the path for many such technologies in India and create an atmosphere for the industry to adopt it faster, to give the Indian market an experience and acting more responsibly towards the environment we live in.”
As far as international standards is concerned, the Sustainable Green Printing (SGP) Partnership is a non-profit organisation that certifies printing facilities’ sustainability best practices, including and beyond regulatory compliance. SGP strives to assure a sustainability-driven supply chain to the print buying community through strategic partnerships with SGP-certified printers and SGP patrons. “We may think of something similar in India with accumulated efforts of government, printers and of course corporate brands,” adds Patel.
Smarth Bansal, DGM-Product & Brand, ColorJet India Pvt. Ltd., very firmly believes that considering the global stride towards greener materials, Indian corporate sector is fast embracing sustainability, and so is the country’s signage industry. “We at ColorJet constantly innovate and strive to provide the best of the print solutions as per the industry and environmental norms. For this, we keep working in collaboration with its value chain partners to develop sustainable print solutions under solvent, eco-solvent, UV and soft signage segments.”
In order to assure a sustainable and secure print business for our PSPs, the company has introduced BioPrint technology, which is specially created for prints on bio-degradable and 100% recyclable fabric media. “This assurance has been extended to our 4000+ existing print partners who are part of this secure and sustainable print ecosystem. It came amidst rumours over the ban on flex & banners, while the buzz is also around the future of digital print business in India,” informs Bansal.
Bansal specifically mentions that being a key industry stakeholder, it is our responsibility to contribute to the sustainability of this business ecosystem. With ColorJet’s BioPrint technology, we offer future-proof sustainable solutions to all the print business problems. “ColorJet’s BioPrint is not just eco-friendly, it is business friendly too! Our GreenTechTM is compliant with all international print standards. We had anticipated this scenario seven years ago and have been working on our products to be future-ready.”
ColorJet as a brand strongly believes and assures sustainability in print business with eco-friendly product portfolio. Moreover, being an EPR partner, ColorJet also works diligently under the guidelines of CPCB, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, in fulfilling the extended producers’ responsibility with an aim to contribute towards building a greener ecosystem. Under this EPR initiative, they partner with agencies like Goonj and Exigo to offer end to end recycling of print & industrial waste.
He insists that ColorJet is leading the way for a sustainable future with the help of our e-waste management partners – Goonj and Exigo, which offer end-to-end recycling of print and industrial waste. “Last year, we carried out a Zero% E-Waste initiative aimed at completing the loop of end-to-end E-waste recycling through ‘Purana Printer Exchange offer’ under a discount of 2 lakh rupees was offered on the new machine purchase of our flagship solvent machines – Irisjet Pro and Neptune. This initiative was a huge success and many machines were booked under this offer,” he said adding that Colorjet congratulates all the lucky customers who availed this offer and put in their contribution towards a greener future.
Light Boxes & Channel Letters
Developments in LED technology have made them ubiquitous for new and some retrofitted signs. The energy savings can be as much as 80%, and LEDs last considerably longer than other lighting elements. We can all agree that the savings to customers make for an excellent selling point, even though LEDs cost more upfront. Still, old lighting components must be disposed of through the proper channels, even when that often involves more than one refuse, repository or recycling company. LED Innovation is Incredible but there are still steps to prevent waste.
One area where there is very little debate left is the use of LED lighting which is now dominant in the industry. We have seen the transformation in the age old light boxes, where LED replaced the fluorescent tube lights around a decade back and took a shift towards more sustainable and eco-friendly lighting option. LED lighting is efficient, easy to install and contains few wasteful chemicals. LED’s though do generate electricity and efficient installation is still needed. This includes the use of LED’s in series or lattice configurations that are designed to provide maximum coverage at minimal cost and do not need unsustainable adhesives. In addition the cost and ease of LED controllers allows sign lighting to be programmed for more efficiency during dusk and evening hours.
Through research and raised collective consciousness, manufacturers are responding to increasing consumer demand for more sustainable goods, including consumer electronics and similar products used in advertising and marketing endeavours. Products requiring smaller amounts of raw materials may offer tangible and intangible benefits to companies in search of eco-friendly communications solutions.
On the other hand, 3D channel letters today have emerged as a professional and catchy way to promote any brand or product. Visible and identifiable from far distances, the channel letters can be customised for any size, shape, colour and style, with deep sidewalls illuminated impressively using embedded LED modules. These could be individual letters on a wall or a raceway for any type of installation.
The solid 3D letters made of 25mm acrylic with LED rope or bar fitted in the groove are emerging as the cynosure of some of the corporate giants like Domino’s, Dunkins and JCB. This is followed by metal letters wherein, unlike the trendy aluminium, the letters made of SS304 grade covered with acrylic for illumination purposes to provide beauty & aesthetics are slowly picking up. The letters so prepared are sustainable because of mostly being water-proof and dust-proof.
Over the last decade, LED technology has evolved so much that it allows for highly visible and effective signs. It is sustainable because of its many Green & eco-friendly attributes. Coupled with electronic functions, LED signs combine brightness, low power consumption, long life and low maintenance. LED technology can light up letters of a sign or can create a halo or backlit feature around the 3D letters inscribed in a signage. It facilitates designing the type of lighting for a sign that really gives the brand a desirable image.
LED is a technology that brings in a big transformation in the realm of illuminated signage and display segment. In addition to all the latest machineries/technologies designed precisely to cut, craft and bend channel letters, LED has drastically improved the channel letters segment of the industry, offering an all new market. Channel letters may have maintenance issues of some or other kinds in the long run depending upon the materials used, but the incorporation of LEDs in channel letter construction finally complements the illumination part of this new-age sustainable glow sign.
These letters physically distinguish a brand or an image where it appears. The thickness and the projection from the surface to which it is attached bring forth a picture of elegance and solidity. Made from Poly Carbonate, Acrylic, Aluminium, SS, MS, or Brass, these letters are cut-to-order and illuminated with the very efficient new technical solutions comprising LEDs for energy saving offering adequate power meeting the specific requirements of a particular brand.
“It was in 2004-05 that LED channel letters entered the market. We brought GE LEDs in India through imports as the company didn’t have any presence here at that point in time. There were a few clients to whom we tried explaining why they should opt for LED signage in place of neon signs. Eventually, we succeeded in our mission as we got converted few big brands like World Trade Tower, World Trade Centre, Intercontinental Hotel (now Lalit), etc.,” informs Vijay Wadhwa, Director-Marketing, Creative Signplus.
According to him, till 2008, GE was the only brand prevalent with its LED module. At that time, the company was looking forward to more business, following which it set up an office in Gurgaon. “It was that time when Samsung entered with its GOQ brand in the market at a much lower price band and started giving tough competition to GE,” shares Wadhwa, adding that now there are a wide range of LEDs – with varieties to choose from. “Brightness and warranty level have been continuously on the surge. They started with IP65 and now they have moved on to IP67- IP68.”
Ubiquitous Signs Pvt. Ltd.
Illuminated LED signage is needed to be sustainable because of its being operational throughout the day, except for the IT sector where daytime factor still works. “Today, a large chunk of the channel letters is for shop-in-shop or within the mall wherein the ambient light is pretty high. Even in the sky signages that are installed on the building-top, conventional things are slowly going away. Clients are looking for dynamic channel letters, wherein there is motion in the light. It is installed with controller to bring the light effects. In the malls, channel letters are illuminated throughout the day or at least for 12 hours, while at places like airport, it is 24×7,” explains Gurjeet Singh Sawhney, Director, Ubiquitous Signs Pvt. Ltd.
Sawhney is confident of an ever illuminated future for channel letters. “The future is far brighter than what it looks like and will remain there for decades to come. Firstly, there is a lot scope in replacement market where flex is still being used. The channel letters would completely replace the flex signage market in time to come.” According to him, major chunks of the sectors like retail, automotive, and hospitality are already taken over, while the rest is in the pipeline. The next conversion would be that of small shops which, being part of the unorganised sector, is largely untouched and the change is happening only at individual level. Once convinced, all these together will push the market by two or three times.
When it comes to illuminating channel letters, Satyam Techno is a name known for its imported as well as indigenous quality arrays of LED modules for 3D letters. “We not only offer LED modules but also educate the market about their features and attributes that differentiate one from another – both in terms of quality and applications,” says Abhijeet Bose of Satyam Techno. He adds that the aim is to do informative trade so that it can help sustain the clientele in the long-run. The company represents LED modules and power supply brands such as ADS, Union, NC, GOQ, Meanwell, Osram, GE, Startec, Rishang, Premium, etc.
Bose informs that Satyam Techno offers LED modules which are made with high-technology Taiwanese chips featuring anti-static design to produce high brightness, low-power consumption, extremely minimised heat radiation and wide beam angle. “With modules from Tremai LED, we now have an expanded but varied portfolio. For instance, brand like ADS offers a 3-year warranty, while Tremai being more sustainable is positioned a little higher with 5-years warranty,” he explained adding that our cost-effective LED strips that are assured not only for quality but sustainability. “Our LED modules have been approved from various leading corporate brands like Vivo, Oppo, Samsung, Radisson, etc. to be used in their respective signage projects.”
Bose suggests an inclination of the signage fraternity towards Neon LEDs. “There are a lot of enquiries for the newly introduced LED Neon. It would change the way lettered signage is perceived. It is flexible enough to be bent in any shape – big or small – and hence doesn’t really need any support of any channel. It allows users the needed flexibility to facilitate carving out any illuminated design,” he says adding that it is perfect for in-shop or window branding for which he anticipates a brighter future. “This is because of its availability in smaller sizes of 50 meter-length and can be easily cut short to fit in the requirements.”
Art & Creation
Amanmeet Singh of Art & Creation insists that LED modules from Wililux UK that the company deals in are far more sustainable. Singh says, “Innovation is a continuous process at Wililux, and hence, keeps introducing new and efficient products at regular intervals. For LED modules, we have different variants. The most recent addition in the module portfolio is 3.7W LED module, which is attributed for higher brightness, more efficiency and better efficacy targeted at lettered signage to be installed in high-rise buildings. Powered with Osram chips, these modules are far more cost-effective and versatile. With these attributes, it is aimed at minimising the number of modules by not less than eight times that goes in channel letters. This is actually phenomenal, making the job far easier and flawless for the signage makers.”
“We do have certain special kind of modules for soft signage. These are LED bars that come in various colour temperatures to facilitate varied but specific solutions, with same brightness. This is to offer flexibility to our valued customers to choose from,” he adds.
After such an extensive discussion, it would really be premature to consider that our large format industry is a truly a sustainable one. While the process of switching over to low emissions is on from almost every stage of our supply chain, and realistically, the burden of being eco-friendly or for that matter sustainable can’t be put entirely on the shoulders of wide format printers manufacturers or suppliers. However, such a hefty discussion and participation of these speakers is a kind of assurance that the industry as a whole is caring more now than it ever has done before about the impact of its outcome. While some may be doing more than others, the wide format digital printing industry is setting its sights on a greener, brighter future for print for which the industry is ready to face all the challenges in the way. In all – it is actually grabbing the attention of industry stakeholders.