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The Tension Fabric Revolution

For businesses that look to trade shows to market their products and enhance their brands in the minds of savvy consumers, they often find themselves in the daunting situation of having to be aware of new exhibit trends in the trade show industry which will allow their companies to stand out just a little more than their competition at industry events. Catching on to a new exhibiting trend in the last quarter of the life cycle is deadly as well as expensive.

In the trade show world, you often see products that are slowly incorporated into the trade show mainstream over a number of years, but then will temporarily fade for a few years only to be revived by some new application which will again give the product a new life cycle. We  have seen this play out over the years with products such as truss systems, pop ups, and tension fabric. Large fabric structures have been around for over 10 years, but why has tension fabric roared back into the marketplace the way it has in just the last two years?

  • Quality… When you can print on a piece of fabric the size of a building at 150 dpi or more, and the quality of the image is the main selling point, the obstacles fade.
  • Economy…Printing on fabric is often half the cost of printing quality photo murals for pop ups for large island exhibits, it can cut the cost of construction in half.Tension Fabric Displays
  • Portability…For decades large images had to be mounted on large panels that were packaged in crates and assembled panel by panel, creating huge shipping costs not to mention drayage fees in the trade show hall. Large overhead structures can now be broken down and packed in very small flat panel cases along with the graphic.
  • Cutting Edge Looks…There are a host of new aluminum extrusions in the market, that when combined with a silicone edge sewn into the edge of the fabric graphic, to create a product that is not only easy to install, but looks about as perfect as a piece of fabric could possibly look.

Tension fabric is not only redefining the way exhibitors exhibit, but is quickly changing the business model for show contractors, who for years have relied on what they called “wood” shows, which is a euphemism for shows with thousands of crates, which constitutes their primary source of show revenue for shows through drayage fees. As tension fabric continues to be re introduced into the market, this time around it’s a whole different world and is impacting, and will continue to benefit exhibitors in a very positive way.

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by Lowell Nickens,, LinkedIn Profile