Innovative LED lightboxes with bedazzling colors capture the imaginations of UK shoppers.
By Laura Peters
Sleek. Colorful. Sustainable. Now we can add lightweight and flexible to the list of attributes for today’s lightboxes. Capable of being suspended from ceilings and veiled only by thin fabrics, LED lightboxes are defying form factor and material limits to redefine signmaking and secondary lighting.
One such design is brilliantly featured at a BMW auto showroom in London’s Mayfair district. The LED lightbox is a bespoke creation of W&Co Displays and Signs (Essex, UK). In BMW’s wall-to-wall image, the luxury vehicle appears to be driving right out of the wall and into the showroom. This vibrant illustration was direct digitally printed on an LED-backlit FabriLite tension fabric (110 gsm) using a large-format dye sublimation process. Thin LED strings of daylight colored (6500K) back-lighting enable an installation depth of 100mm (4 in.). “The tension fabrics are so much lighter than acrylic and we can achieve frameless designs that are portable, don’t wrinkle and retain color very nicely,” said Megan Nicholson, client account executive at W&Co. “Together with LED light-boxes, sleeker, slimmer designs are the result.” Nicholson further said fabric displays are becoming a main-stay at exhibit halls and in retail environments.
The lightboxes at fashion retailer Simply Be (Gateshead, UK) are just as captivating as those at BMW. But at Simply Be, W&Co used round LED lightboxes. Plain discs provide secondary lighting on the ceiling inside the retail store and discs with scenes of trees and skies are featured at the head of the escalators as artistic pieces. “There’s really tremendous flexibility with these fabrics, which will not sag due to the tension and can be easily changed to an alternative design as the client’s needs change,” Nicholson said.
And speaking of change, W&Co is using its DigiMax Print Animation LED lightbox to provide dynamic lighting in addition to a static sign graphic. The programmed moving image is projected onto the printed front by RGB LEDs along with white LEDs. Nicholson said this screen is particularly attractive to sign customers because it is less expensive than a comparably sized digital screen.
Finally, Nicholson said there is interest from the signage community in organic LED (OLED) signage. An OLED source, while much less energy-efficient than traditional LED sources, provides 100% diffuse light in a thinner footprint. For example, the thinnest LED lightbox from W&Co is 24mm, while OLED products have the potential to be a mere 2mm thick. However, the high price of OLED technology means it will remain a premium option for signage or any application until manufacturing costs are driven down.
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