Lamination versus waterproof paper. It’s a question outdoor event companies have to consider as they produce and source temporary outdoor signage for events such as marathons, sports camps, and festivals.
Let’s be honest, this debate has only come into focus as advances in durable and waterproof paper technology in the past 20 years made not laminating your outdoor signage even an option.
Lamination has been a relatively effective way to protect printed materials from the elements and it’s been widely used in the past 50 years on temporary outdoor signage.
But in this case study we’ll share how one company that specializes in outdoor event management stopped using lamination forever on its outdoor event signage after trying waterproof and durable papers instead.
Established in 1991 and based in Baltimore, MD, Corrigan Sports Enterprises leverages relationships with professional sports franchises, college sports teams, athletic departments, and sports media to create, manage, and implement sports and event marketing opportunities for local, regional, and national corporations.
They manage events such as the Baltimore Marathon & Running Festival, the Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield Frederick Running Festival, and the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic to name a few. Their services include creating outdoor signage and they do this by working with print vendors for the bigger signs, or by producing smaller signage in-house.
Challenge: Saving Time on Signage Production
Like most small companies, Corrigan Sports is always looking to save time and money. Maximizing resources is especially important for them because the company is committed to delivering all elements of an event from inception to fruition; a real advantage for its customers.
While Corrigan Sports relies on external print vendors to produce large, waterproof and durable signs for sports and event marketing, it also creates and then prints smaller 11″ x 17″ signs in-house. This smaller event signage includes event schedules, venue maps and directions, as well as lists of participating teams and coaches.
The majority of Corrigan Sports events are for lacrosse and take place at outdoor recreation facilities over two or three days. This means all signage must be durable enough to withstand the elements for the whole event.
Normally, the details for this smaller event signage aren’t finalized until just before an event begins (think of schedules, race courses, or getting the right sponsor logos). The short timeline makes print outsourcing impractical and costly.
In the past, Corrigan Sports laminated its signs. With about 50 signs or fewer needed for each event, the process to produce laminated signs for outdoor use was time-consuming and required employee resources more effectively used elsewhere.
Solution: REVLAR from Relyco
Chris Tomlinson, vice president of Marketing at Corrigan Sports, was also considering whether lamination vs. waterproof paper was right for his company. So, he decided to test samples of REVLAR waterproof paper as an alternative to lamination. (Disclosure: REVLAR is a Relyco product, but Tomlinson’s experience reflects a broader adoption of waterproof and durable paper by the outdoor event industry.)
Tomlinson found that REVLAR waterproof paper worked well in his printer and produced a sign that appeared exactly as he expected. Then, he held the sign under running water for several minutes to see how it stood up to very wet conditions. When he saw no ink smearing and the sign itself looked great, even when wet, Tomlinson ordered a supply of REVLAR.
“It actually rained for the first four events at which we used signage printed on REVLAR,” Tomlinson said. “One event was even threatened by a tornado. [Weather] wasn’t ideal for us or our athletes, but it did provide the ultimate test of REVLAR. The waterproof paper passed with flying colors, and even at the end of each event, the REVLAR signs looked as if they had just come off the printer. The laminated signs we created in the past never would have withstood the deluge. We’re never going back to lamination.”
Tomlinson says that the cost of REVLAR is in line with what the company had invested in lamination supplies, but that the time saved on production is significant. Typically, Corrigan Sports uses its signs for only a single event, but with REVLAR, the company is exploring ways it might be able to re-use certain signs from one event to the next for additional savings.