Large Format Paper Offerings

Ever wonder what type of printing options you have, when your project reaches a size larger than a standard digital press can handle?  There’s infinite possibilities out there for this type of situation, but one in particular is large format printing.  When it comes to large format printing, you have a wide variety of options from choice of paper stock to finishing options.

Many people doing projects at these sizes have a plethora of questions about what is and isn’t possible, and what will work best for the overall look they are trying to achieve.

There are many options for printed media, which are listed below, with good uses of each.

  • Prime Gloss Media is good for a standard poster, whether it be framed or unframed.  It has a high gloss shine to it, and is recommended for a more low-lit area.
  • Prime Satin Media is also good for a standard poster, but it has more of a dull appearance.  A duller appearance is more recommended for a well lit area, due to its nature of not reflecting light.
  • Backlit Media can be used for many things, but is most commonly used for a backlit poster.  However, other crafty options for this media could be to create your own lighted photo cube.  The possibilities are endless with backlit media, if you get in touch with your crafty side.
  • Vinyl Banner Media is often times used for outdoor signage or tradeshow displays.  This media can be used in displays from retractable banner stands to an “x” stand.
  • Low-tack Media has a removable adhesive back to it.  This media can be used for window signage, or wall signage.
  • Perforated Window Media is another option for windows, but it is a bit nicer than a low-tack option.  This media has tiny holes throughout the material, and is coupled with a solid black backing.  This combination allows for someone to see out of the window, but not in.  It makes for nice signage on a storefront, but when you still want to be able to see out the windows.
  • Fine Art Media is a thicker, more durable media, with a bit of a texture to it.  It also has a mild sheen to it, which really helps the colors pop.  This media is nice for use with high photographic posters prints or art replications.
  • Canvas Media is a high quality material used to customize canvas wraps.  You can use it to replicate an art print, or you can use it for photography, as it is commonly used for today.
  • Removable Fabric Media is an extremely nice quality material, that has a fabric feel to the front, but is also accompanied by a removable/repositionable adhesive on the back.  It is mostly used as an option for a wall covering.
  • Another media option for wall coverings is printable wallpaper.  It comes in a variety of textures, and is mostly used to make the wall look as though the print is actually painted on the wall.

As you can tell, there are many possibilities out there for larger than life jobs.  If you pair with a project coordinator, here at AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District, we can lead you in the right direction to give your project the best possible solution.

Written by Molly Kintigh,
Large Format Specialist,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District

Tradeshow Marketing: The Secrets to Success on the Road

Everyone goes to tradeshows knowing exactly what to expect: rows upon rows of unexciting booths giving away pens and hand sanitizer.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Tradeshows can be an excellent way to engage customers, promote your brand, and gain new leads and contacts.  All it takes is a few minor adjustments to your approach.

A successful tradeshow begins with a strong pre-show initiative.  It is essential that members of your target audience are aware that you will be at the show and why stopping at your booth is worth their time.  A simple way to begin this process would be to get a list of attendees from the host organization.  From this list, carefully choose a group of attendees that you would like to target and plan a strategy for reaching them.  It is always best to do this in a multi-channel way.  For example, you could send your target attendees a direct mail piece, an e-mail blast, and a social media invite all informing them that you will be present at the tradeshow and where your booth will be located.  If you wanted to take this initiative a step further, these communications could contain a PURL (personalized URL) to get additional information about the attendee and their business needs.

Now the easy part is over- your target attendees know you will be present at the show.  Now the real challenge begins.  How can you ensure they visit your booth?  Put yourself in their shoes: there are hundreds of booths to visit.  What would make it worth their time to single yours out?  It needs to be worth their time.  There are endless ways to achieve this, and the more creative the better.  For example, the customer could bring the direct mail piece to your booth for a chance to win a prize or service related giveaway.  If your pre-show initiatives included a PURL, it could serve as a location to pre-register for a prize.  Another option could be utilizing mobile media and texting attendants during the show to stop by your booth.

One way to ensure that your booth stands out against the crowd is having professional signage and promotional materials.  This could include anything from mounted signage, retractable banners, or floor decals.  Anything out of the ordinary will be more likely to create a buzz among the sea of white folding tables.  The nonverbal communication of the employees working at the booth will also have a major impact on the traffic the booth receives.  No one wants to visit a booth where unengaged people are sitting on a folding chair behind a table.  It is crucial that professionally dressed, enthusiastic employees are standing in front of the booth engaging attendees in conversation and welcoming questions.

Finally, the trade show is over and your work is done.  Wrong!  This is the most crucial aspect of a tradeshow that is often overlooked.  It is essential to take all of the leads you worked so hard to get and categorize them into hot, warm and cold.  Hot leads are people who expressed a need in your product or service or have requested information.  It is essential that hot leads are followed up with in 3-5 business days because you are probably competing for their business with competitors from the tradeshow.  Warm leads are people who were interested in your product or service, but a decision probably won’t happen any time soon.  These people should be followed up with within two weeks.  Cold leads are all of the others.  Follow up with these people with a generic marketing piece in 4-6 weeks.

Hopefully this got you thinking of ways to refresh the way you approach your next tradeshow.  AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District is here to help you out with all your marketing, print and signage needs!

by Kristen Hasychak,
Project Coordinator,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District

Large Format Post-Print Finishing

Having a poster printed?  Why not make sure it lasts longer by giving it the extra protection with our high-gloss or matte finished lamination films, or maybe even add some stability to the backing by having it mounted to a sturdier substrate.  Here at Alphagraphics in the Cultural District, we can suit almost any signage need.  Your large format project can come to life in the finishing department.  We have the capabilities to put an extra high quality touch to your work, from laminating to mounting.

The finishing of a large format piece, may be the most important and crucial part to the job.  We have many options for post printed pieces.  One of the most commonly used finishing steps is mounting a printed piece to another substrate.  We have a wide variety of substrates to choose from for this, which I will list in a little more detail for you.

  • 24pt. board  is one of the thinnest options to mount to.  It is comparable to a standard poster board you would find at your local office supply store.  Most people who choose this option are looking for something a little more stable to put in a frame.
  • Foam board is our most popular option among clients.  It is lightweight, which is nice for hanging, and it also comes in a black or white option.  The thickness of the foam board can also vary.  The standard thickness is 3/16″, however the white does have an option for 1/2″.  Foam board is also a substrate that can be hand cut, for that personal touch on your project.
  • Gatorboard is another contender in the popularity contest.  Most clients choose this type of board when they are looking for something a little harder and sturdier than that of foam board.  It comes in the same color and thickness options as foam board.
  • Plasticor is a commonly used substrate in the yard signage industry.  Clients looking for a nice advertising sign to place in a front yard or along the street, this is the option for you.  It is a corrugated plastic which gives the ability to place ‘H’ stakes in the bottom.  Plasticor is also a nice option for an A-frame sign.
  • Sintra is one of our less common substrates, but it gives a very high quality finishing touch to any job.  Sintra is a pressed plastic board that comes in many different thicknesses, from 1mm to 6mm.  It can also be used in both black and white.  Unlike foam board, Sintra is heavy in weight, but it is surely the most stable mounting substrate of them all.


The other most common finishing step in large format is lamination.  We can laminate any piece with our pressure sensitive lamination.  There are a few different lamination options to choose from.  The high-gloss laminate is probably one of the most widely used laminations we carry.  It can give any job that extra pop, with extra protection as well.  For those who aren’t looking for such a high glossy finish, we do have a matte option as well.  It still lets the colors pop, while keeping the print protected.  Probably our least known about lamination is a floor laminate.  This laminate offers protection for a floor graphic, but it can also add protection to a wall graphic, that will be cleaned continually.   It has a nice texture to it, with a slight frosted sheen.  Aside from protective laminates, we also offer a dry-erase laminate.  With this lamination, you can turn any board or poster into a dry-erase board.

If you are interested in learning more about any of these finishing options please contact one of our Project Coordinators for further information.

by Molly Kintigh,
Large Format Specialist,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District

Google Pittsburgh’s Conference Room Signage Designed by AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District

In August 2010, Google Pittsburgh enlisted AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District to design 2 sets of conference room signs for their new space at Bakery Square, which formerly operated as the Nabisco Bakery from 1918-1998.

Playing on the history of the building, 28 Nabisco-themed signs were created for the 6th floor conference rooms, each named after a popular Nabisco product.  These signs reflect design elements from Nabisco packaging using bright colors, fonts, and stylized shots of product packaging.

The 24 signs for the 7th floor conference rooms feature a Pittsburgh: City of Bridges theme, with each room named after a specific local bridge.  Each of these signs feature a photograph of the respective bridge, as well as a screen shot from Google Maps featuring the bridge's location.

What makes this signage unique from most are the QR codes featured on each one.  These allow Google employees to view each conference room's schedule when scanned with a smart phone.

ThePittsburghChannel.com recently featured a video of Google Pittsburgh's grand opening on December 7, 2010.  You can check it out here, and keep an eye out for the signage!