By Cassandra Balentine
From retail and restaurant settings to trucks and trade shows, digitally printed magnets are a versatile application. Print service providers (PSPs) have both printable magnetic sheet and roll options as well as magnetic-receptive systems that feature a base magnet and printable magnet-receptive media for a layered display.
Magnetic media offers a signage solution that is durable and changeable. These options have grown in popularity as new businesses realize the attractiveness of a magnetic-based display.
This past year greatly affected the retail and restaurant businesses where magnetic and magnetic-receptive signage is popular. Despite the uncertainty and loss in the early pandemic, vaccine rollouts are pulling some businesses out of COVID-19 restrictions, providing an uptick here.
The pandemic has transformed how many businesses operate as well as how they promote messaging. Since retail and restaurant patrons are key targets for magnetic signage, as well as one of the industries most affected by COVID-19 restrictions, the demand for these solutions was unpredictable at best this past year and a half.
Clay Reierson, director, market strategy, Xcel Products, Inc., notes that as with many graphic products, the initial impact from COVID-19 was dramatic. “A large portion of sales in magnetic material is for retail, restaurant, or grocery industries. Most of these markets were closed or doing business differently as a result of COVID-19. Luckily, magnetic materials and the markets they serve, bounced back quickly and are being sold in great quantities and making things easier for the ever-changing marketplaces.”
Joe Deetz, inventor of mag-receptive media/CEO, Visual Magnetics LP, agrees, adding that a majority of its end users are retailers, so it experienced unpredictable fluctuations in demand for many months. “Since shutdowns forced retailers to close their doors to the public, there were long periods where in-store graphic campaigns came to a stand still. As a result, some of our print provider customers saw their worst year in sales to date,” he shares.
However, despite an unpredictable 2020 and early 2021, Deetz sees a recent spike in new, in-store graphic programs. “As the vaccination rollout gains momentum in the U.S., retailers are no longer caught in state-wide shutdowns and are finally open for good. Despite a challenging year for us all, we see a bright future for mag-receptive media. The uncertainties we all lived through have confirmed how important it is for interior spaces to be quick to respond to change and flexible with their messaging. On a grander scale, this pandemic has placed an increased importance on businesses to make more sustainable choices on every level, which is something that mag-receptive can offer,” adds Deetz.
“There is no doubt that demand for in-store advertising graphics was negatively affected by the pandemic, but we are seeing an increase in demand now that more consumers are vaccinated and feel more comfortable about returning to stores,” comments Matt Adams, sales executive, North America, Newlife Magnetics, LLC. He believes there is pent-up demand that will be released as retailers begin to see more customers return to in-person shopping and advertisers look to refresh their advertising. “Magnet receptive and printed magnet displays are a great way to change and update your in-store displays. Installation can be done by store staff reducing costs.”
Mike Gertz, marketing manager, Master Magnetics, Inc., admits that many types of businesses were impacted by COVID-19, and says those fortunate enough to remain open had to adapt to the changing and challenging circumstances in all areas of their operations. “In addition to the normal promotional marketing materials required for business, the need for COVID-19 related signs and graphics for safety, social distancing, and other information has been in big demand and will continue to be in the foreseeable future.”
He says retailers, restaurants, contractors, and many other organizations, institutions, and businesses will continue to need an extraordinary amount of signage of all types and sizes. “These include healthcare facilities, local and state governments, public and private schools of all levels, religious organizations, and recreation facilities,” adds Gertz. This is where printable magnetic and magnetic-receptive sheeting, along with magnetic assemblies for sign holding are ideal because they are easily changeable and repositionable, very simple to use, and highly versatile. “Magnetic sign options are especially valuable when there is a need for signs that can be changed frequently to keep information up-to-date or in non-permanent environments such as building entrances, store shelves, and displays.”
“With retail being closed or only minimally opened, the growth of the market was hindered. With retail and restaurants reopening, the demand is increasing,” adds Kylie Schleicher, product manager, Ultraflex Systems, Inc.
Today, magnetic and magnetic-receptive media options serve a variety of uses, so trends follow many circumstances. In general, popularity has skyrocketed in the past decade.
Gertz points to a transition towards thinner, wider, and stronger magnetic media options. “Technological advancements in production throughout the industry have resulted in the production of wider and thinner materials with greater strength. The evolution is towards being more cost efficient, easier to use, and improved performance,” he suggests.
With regular strength magnetic sheeting, Gertz explains that strength was determined by the thickness of the magnet—the thicker the magnet, the stronger it is. “Unfortunately the increased thickness also results in increased weight. Utilizing high-energy manufacturing technology to make magnetic sheeting thinner while maintaining or exceeding the strength of regular strength sheeting, and at a comparable cost, has many benefits. It is easier to work with, easier to print, and costs less to ship.”
“Magnetic signage has grown from 24-inch car signs to a truly wide format print media,” offers Adams.
Reierson sees a general rise in magnetic graphic sales, but points out that it seems to be coming from several different market segments. “Printable, white-faced magnet is used for promotions as fridge magnets and aisle/shelf labels as well as vehicle signage. It’s become a very popular choice for temporary signage as companies are requiring creative and messaging changed on the fly,” he shares.
Gertz notes that printable magnets and magnetic-receptive systems are ideal for displaying frequently changing information or graphics on flat or curved, non-ferrous metal surfaces. “The frequently changing information or graphic elements can be layered and easily replaced without having to change the entire sign or graphic display. Similar to magnetic sheeting, the trend towards wider, thinner, and lighter weight is also true for magnetic-receptive sheeting. Magnetic graphic systems can be used indoors or outdoors for retail point of purchase (POP) displays, commercial signage, directional, and decorative graphics.”
New clients are investing in magnetic backer panels and utilizing magnetic-receptive graphics in an effort to reduce graphic costs on areas that need frequent updating. “Although the magnet backer is an additional upfront cost, clients with several locations are seeing significant, long-term savings in new graphics as the cost to print, ship, and install magnetic-receptive materials is reduced over other traditional methods, such as rigid panels or adhesive-backed materials,” explains Reierson.
Sustainability is another consideration. Deetz says this is not only an ever-growing trend but is moving to the absolute forefront when it comes to buyers’ decision making and heightened demands from retailers. “We have seen a major uptick in requests for our magnetic-receptive media made with high post-consumer content. Sustainability is something our company has always prioritized, by committing to being 100 percent PVC-free since day one and we are now offering more mag-receptive media options that are high in post-consumer content along with a program where we partner with end users to recycle their used graphics.”
Deetz sees the future for magnetic-receptive product being in extruded media options. “We received a new patent on a co-extruded sheet with a very high content of post-consumer recycled material. This product has a magnetic-receptive core and is sandwiched on both surfaces with a bright white print surface,” he shares.
A variety of suppliers offer printable magnetic and magnetic-receptive media.
Adams Magnetic Products supplies wide format magnet sheets, magnet-receptive material, and all types of magnets, magnetic latches, and assemblies used in creating both signs and POP. Its magnet productss allow displays to be quickly updated with minimal tools and no training. Adams offers a full selection of product configurations, magnetic strengths, surface laminates, thicknesses, widths, lengths, and custom shapes for almost any application. It has two fully equipped converting facilities to ensure quick turnaround for custom requirements.
Arnold Magnetic Technology’s Flexmag offers flexible, bonded magnetic sheets and strips in multiple thicknesses, widths, and profiles. Flexmag’s magnetic media is compatible with, and often certified for use, on today’s most popular commercial printers.
Kapco offers its patent-pending K-Mag Mount product. K-Mag Mount allows PSPs to select the print media of choice while providing the performance expected from magnetic-receptive media.
Maghold LLC has five major product lines, Flexible Magnet, Receptive, Magnet Strip, Finished Product, and Neodymium Magnet. Maghold’s Direct Printable Flexible Magnet is anti-rust and water resistant. The backside is UV coated to protect the material and iron base from sticking and staining. Maghold Receptive is anti-rust, thin, light, flexible, and non-magnetic. The high dyne value and white point make it well suited for printing. It works with a magnetic base to make installing and changing graphics quick and easy. Its Magnetic Strip products are ideal for applications like POP, warehouse labeling, and fridge door seals.
Among Magnum Magnetics’ printable magnetic products is a magnetic-receptive offering, DigiMaxx EnGage. The easy-to-install, printable magnetic-receptive media is designed to be durable and offer excellent adhesion. EnGage media is engineered with an optimized surface for superior print quality and offers a neutral white point. EnGage lightweight magnetic-receptive material is ideal for multiple applications in school, home, office, or retail environments.
For magnetic sheeting that is printable with solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and UV ink systems Master Magnetics offers PrintMagnetVinyl with regular strength in widths from 12 to 48 inches and thickness from 12- to 60-mil. Also printable with these ink systems, its high-energy magnet, ThinFORCE, 15-mil and with the equivalent strength of regular 30-mil is ideal for vehicle signs. One feature available on ThinFORCE is a light-colored back coating that allows optical scanners to scan and read the media on printers with media advancement systems. For aqueous inks, its PrintMagnet product has a paper topcoat and is available in a 24-inch width and 12- to 30-mil thick. FlexIRON is Master Magnetic’s magnetic-receptive material and is available with topcoats compatible with all ink systems and comes in thicknesses from seven- to 25-mil, and widths from 24 to 60 inches.
New Force Magnetics Co. offers flexible magnetic sheeting in widths of up to 48 inches with or without adhesive, or in white. Choose plain surface or several different laminates, including multiple colors. The magnets may be UV screenprinted, eco-solvent, or solvent inkjet printed. Available in large- or standard-sized rolls, its magnetic-receptive sheeting is popular for changeable graphics and signage.
Newlife Magnetics has been working to create the highest quality magnet receptive and wide format printable magnet products for over 20 years. Its Platinum line of magnet-receptive media has a 12-mil total thickness with an eight-mil matte white PET print surface and a great white point. It is PVC free and recyclable for waste to energy. The ferrous back coating features a high metal content so it has a high magnetic permeability for strong adhesion to its magnetic base sheeting. Newlife’s Print-Mag Ultrawide magnet is a true wide format printable magnet. At widths of 54 and 60 inches, it allows users to print to magnet using nearly any piece of digital equipment you have in the shop, including solvent, UV, and latex. For the car sign market, the company offers 20-mil high-energy magnet options that replace traditional 30-mil car magnet material. This means users get a thinner, lighter, and stronger magnet material for a lower cost than the traditional 30-mil car magnet stock. Its Print-Mag line of PVC-faced magnets come up to 50 inches wide in 15-, 20-, and 30-mil thicknesses.
Piedmont Plastics offers magnetic materials in an assortment of finishes, thicknesses, and widths. Piedmont representatives are on hand to help potential users select a magnetic sheet product that is right for a specific application.
Plastiprint’s magnetic-receptive media allows users to layer receptive media on a base magnet to give displays depth and texture. The two-part graphic system includes a mounting magnet with permanent adhesive applied to the intended surface and a printable magnetic-receptive media affixed to a mounting magnet. Magnetic Receptive Paint and Double Sided Mounting Magnet are now available for more temporary applications. The solution is PVC free so it can be recycled in waste-to-energy programs.
Quality Media & Laminating Solutions offers magnetic and magnetic-receptive media options from Magnum Magnetics and Xcel Products.
Rochester Magnet Co. offers printable magnetic sheet products, including Standard Vinyl, DigiMag Vinyl and Paper, and MessageMag. Its Standard Vinyl magnetic sheeting for print is available in standard magnetic strength in thicknesses from 0.015 to 0.060 inches. Thicknesses over 0.030 inches can also be double-sided magnetized. Rolls are 24.375 inches wide from 25 to 100 feet, depending on thickness. Colors are available in matte white, black, blue, yellow, gloss white, red, and green. DigiMag Vinyl and Paper are available for printing on wide format and desktop aqueous inkjet printers. DigiMag Paper magnetic inkjet paper is offered in thicknesses ranging from 0.008 to 0.030 inches for indoor use and is offered with a choice of matte and gloss finishes. Thicknesses 0.012 inches and greater are available in rolls ranging from ten to 200 feet and in widths up to 24.375 inches. DigiMag Vinyl magnet is offered in thicknesses ranging from 0.008 to 0.030 inches for wide format solvent inkjet printers. Choose from matte and gloss vinyl laminate finishes suitable for outdoor use. Material width is 24.375 inches and standard roll lengths range from 25 to 200 feet. Custom roll lengths available. Cut magnetic sheets are available for all thicknesses. MessageMag is a thin, lightweight, high performance, and customizable flexible magnetic sheeting that is available in rolls or cut sheets.
Ultraflex Systems features its Signetics Line of magnetic-receptive media. The Signetics portfolio includes Signetics Select, Signetics Duo, and Signetics LTX products. These are well suited for wall graphics, retail POP and point of sign signage, and menu boards. All three offer easy, on-site installation; exceptional durability; no-edge chipping; one year shelf life; and solvent, eco-solvent, and UV wide format digital printability. Signetics Select is available on 164-inch long rolls in widths of 54, 60, and 74 inches and has a smooth backside that is specifically engineered to eliminate scratching when printed material is rolled or stacked. Signetics Duo and Signetics LTX are also compatible with latex printing equipment. Signetics Duo’s unique structure allows for the product to be printed on both sides simultaneously. It is available on 54- and 60-inch wide rolls that are 115 feet long.
Visual Magnetics MagnaMedia products are 100 percent PVC-free with post-consumer content offerings. Some of the longtime retailer favorites for in-store graphics are VM-POLYeight a durable, 12-mil media made from post-consumer PET; VM-SYNpaper an 11-mil, low-cost media with a polypropylene base; and VM-POLYmatte is an ultra-matte option compatible with aqueous-based print platforms. After 20 years in business, the company remains family owned and operated. According to Deetz, Visual Magnetics is still currently the only producer of magnetic-receptive media that is manufactured in the U.S.
Xcel Products offers its ACTION Magnet (White) Print Material, a flexible magnetic sheeting, thermoplastic, permanent magnetic product with superior holding power on most metallic surfaces. The company also offers XMR wide format magnetic-receptive media, which includes XMR v2.0, XMR v2.0 Double-Sided, XMR v3.0 Latex, XMR Dimensions, and XMR Magnetic Receptive Primer Base.
Whether straight magnetic or a magnetic-receptive system, PSPs have many options for creating durable graphics that are easy to install, ship, and change out. As businesses of all types emerge from the trenches of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for magnetic signage is expected to resume.
Aug2021, DPS Magazine