Vinyl banners are a form of outdoor advertising. Most banners are now digitally printed on large format inkjet printers which are capable of printing a full color outdoor billboard on a single piece of material.
The most commonly used material is a heavy weight vinyl technically known as PVC. The weights of the different banner substrates range from as light as 9 ounces to as heavy as 22 ounces per square yard, and may be double- or single-sided. Grommets can also be added in order to facilitate hanging of the banner. Banner hem tapes are also used to protect the lamination of the banner, fasten the hems neatly, and adhere to various surfaces. Large banners (which can be so large that they cover the side of a building) are printed on a special mesh material so that the wind can pass through them.
There are various types of vinyl banner. Its useful life ranges from 3–5 years.
- Digitally printed banners: printed with aqueous (water-based), eco-solvent, solvent-based inks or UV-curable inkjet inks. The latter three types tend to contain durable pigments, which provide superior weather and UV-fading resistance. Large format inkjet printers are usually used, usually manufactured by companies such as HP, EFi Vutek, Mimaki, Roland, Mutoh, or one of many Chinese or Korean manufacturers. Very large banners may be produced using "grand format inkjet printers" of >2.5m width, or computer-controlled airbrush devices which print the ink directly onto the banner material. Some of the fastest wide and grand format inkjet printers are capable of printing up to 3,000 square feet (280 m2) per hour.
- Vinyl lettered banners: produced by applying individual elements cut from self-adhesive vinyl by a computer-driven vinyl cutter.
- Screenprinted: produced using screenprinting, in which different colors are laid down one at a time using screens comprising an imaged stencil, through which the screen printing ink passes. Screen printing may be done on hand benches, single / dual colour machines, or on high-performance multi-colour screen presses which can print at about 1,000 m2 per hour plus.
- Painted: hand-painted graphics and lettering. These type of banners are uncommon with the advent of modern printing.
Vinyl banners have many uses and applications. They are most often used to promote a company's logo, a special promotion, event, team or school. Since vinyl is a very flexible as well as portable material you can see vinyl banners just about anywhere. Vinyl banners are commonly seen as billboards, table banners, trade show banners, building banners, street banners, festival banners, as well as stadium flags.
A quality vinyl banner will also use an outside hem to ensure that Grommets are secured properly. Grommets are the nickel holes that enable the banner to be hung on fence posts, walls, or on the side of buildings. In windy conditions, if Grommets are not fastened into the hem of a vinyl banner, these grommet holes will easily tear out of the banner. Banner hem tapes are also used as decorative trim and to prevent delamination and lifting of vinyl hems.