I was intrigued by this blog post by a printing company describing their fabric posters.
I have a conference overseas this summer, and the prospect of not hauling a document tube through the security clearances and customs lines and waiting areas of multiple airports got more attractive the more I thought about it. I decided this was the perfect time to try it out.
I uploaded a PDF of a poster I made in PosterGenius through the postersession.com website (a portal that MegaPrint use to promote their printing for scientific posters). The ordering process was straightforward.
As the Law of Maximum Inconvenience would have it, I noticed something I wanted to change about 20 minutes after I submitted the poster. I got on the phone, talked to a very helpful designer, Lynette, and I got to resend a corrected file at no cost.
I was a little surprised by the nature of the fabric. It’s a very thin synthetic of some kind, that reminds me a bit of the sort of material you might expect to find in some sort of outdoor tablecloth. I was expecting something more like a T-shirt’s cotton-poly blend.
A fabric poster that’s been folded in your luggage may not look quite as good as a poster printed on high quality paper and transported in a document tube. But the visual difference is very slight.
Fine lines and details come out well, although it’s a fraction less sharp than paper. If you enlarge the picture above, you can probably make out the weave of the fabric. You can also see how on large, uninterrupted patches of colour, there is a very slight horizontal banding that reminds me of how pages come off when your inkjet printer is just about to run out of ink. For all I know, the ink in their printer was starting to run low.
The fabric creases a bit, as you can see in the first and bottom pictures. The pictures were taken with the poster loose on a table, not hanging with tacks to pull it taut.
A letter that come in the box with the poster says that the wrinkles will tend to disappear as the poster hangs, and also says that the poster can be ironed. Given that many hotel rooms now come equipped with irons and ironing boards, you will often have the chance to flatten out the wrinkles a bit. Still, I suggest transporting it in the thin box it’s shipped in, rather than folding it loose in with your clothes, which would make the wrinkling worse.
The fabric poster costs more than paper. In my case, there is a large plotter printer in our building that I could have used for free if I was willing to roll up the poster and haul the document tube around.
MegaPrint also throws in a half dozen tacks in a cute little ziploc baggie.
I imagine that other professional printers specializing in large signs and so on may be able to perform a similar service if you ask.
The final analysis: Recommended if the convenience of not having an awkward piece of extra luggage matters to you.