Pop Up Displays:
Just What Exactly is a Pop Up Display?
Pop Up Displays have been around for a long time. They use an expandable accordion frame structure, usually made from aluminum. This frame collapses into about a 20″ square, approx 30″ tall. When expanded, the frame literally “pops up” into place, hence the name “Pop Up Display”.
In a “traditional”, first generation trade show pop up display, once the popup frame is expanded, separate magnetic bars are hung on the front of the frame, using hooks that attach to the top of the frame, and latches that attach to the hubs in front too. Then fabric or graphic panels with magnetic strips on the sides and hooks on top are attached; these panels are rollable, so they can store in the shipping case. These panels historically have either been Velcro-receptive fabric (often called “carpet panels”), or printed and laminated mural graphic panels. These first generation pop up displays typically weigh about 100 lbs, frame and carpet panel fabric. They typically shipped in 2 cases, one for the frame, and one for the rolled fabric or printed graphic panels and channel bars.
There are at least a dozen manufacturers that make pop up displays, and construction techniques vary a little from one manufacturer to the next, using slightly different hubs and scissor arms, and offering different accessories. The frames can look almost identical to the casual eye, and sometimes even to an experienced eye. However, there is a range of quality that buyers should be aware of. The least expensive pop up stands are seemingly only intended for a few uses, because the plastic hubs and scissor arms break or bend pretty quickly. More durable pop up display stands use better engineering and stronger parts, and normally come with a lifetime hardware warranty.
In these different widths, they are offered in a concave curve, a flat shape, a gull wing shape, and also as a serpentine or “S” shape. Some designs, particularly the flat floor height flat designs, offer side wall returns too. These different shapes can be combined, as illustrated in the rendering to the right, which shows a 10ft concave attached to a 10ft flat, with a 3ft side wall return.
As also shown in the rendering on the right, pop up display designs can combine fabric panels and laminated graphics. Most of the higher quality designs offer a variety of accessories; starting with monitor mounts and lights, but also including shelves, shadow boxes and internal lighting, as shown in the rendering above. Shipping cases are often ordered with case wraps, covering them with either a fabric wrap or a printed graphic, to convert the shipping case into a podium to be used at your show.
Newer generation trade show pop up displays use lighter frames and lighter graphics; these models include the Burst and Xpressions display systems.
After 20 years or so on the market, the popup display was re-invented. The first innovation was released a few years ago, and combines the popup display frame with tension fabric graphics. One of the best known examples of this pop up display is called the Burst or VBurst display. As with the standard pop up displays, this new style pop up booth uses an accordion-like frame,but it is a lighter weight frame, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
The graphic is a very high resolution dye sublimation printed fabric, attached to the frame with Velcro. The graphic can be removed quickly in order to swap graphics, or to clean it (machine washable), but otherwise, this graphic does not need to be removed to collapse the frame, making the setup and dismantle quick and easy. This reduces the setup time for this style of pop up display from 30 minutes or so for the standard pop up display to one or two minutes – greatly appreciated by exhibitors!
The tension fabric graphic on the Burst pop up displays can come with or without side panels, and, while it is normally left in place, it can be quickly removed to swap out graphics. It can also be tossed into a washing machine, gentle cycle, if it becomes soiled. If these tension fabric graphics are left folded up in the case for too long between shows, the fabric can get a little wrinkled, but the fabric is designed to be wrinkle resistant, and bringing a long a portable steamer solves the problem in just a few minutes.
The Burst comes in a variety of different sizes and shapes, including table top displays and floor standing displays, flat and curved, with or without graphic side walls. Because of its near instantaneous setup, it is very popular with sports teams, governments, schools, and media outlets that frequently make press releases – 2 minutes and you’ve got a graphic back drop for your TV appearance or photo opportunity!
As with the standard popup display, there are many manufacturers that claim to make tension fabric pop up displays that are identical to the Burst. Comparing the different products reveals that some of the frames are easy to break, and the best ones, like the Burst, come with a lifetime hardware warranty.
Similarly, the fabric used for the graphic is difficult to get exactly right – some of the less expensive knock-off’s use fabric that wrinkles a lot more quickly and never ever seems to get rid of the wrinkles.
As with the standard pop up display stands, the Burst shipping cases are available with graphic wraps, so the cases can be converted into podium counters for your trade show booth – no more waiting for the cases to be returned to your booth after the show!
The most recent VBurst innovation is backlighting; the backlit Bursts use a patent-pending frame designed to hold lights and provide a backlit graphic with no shadows cast by the frame.
Another recent variation on the standard pop up display is called an Xpressions display. This system also uses an accordion-like frame combined with tension fabric graphics, but uses a lighter weight frame than standard popups. The Xpressions Snap popup display uses an even lighter weight frame, making the Xpressions display about 1/3 the weight of a traditional popup – and this frame comes with a lifetime warranty too!
The Xpressions frames come in a wide variety of configurations. Each square formed by the frame is called a quad, and there are 3 quad triangular designs, 1×3 vertical towers, 2×3’s, 3x3s, 3x4s, 4x4s, etc.
The most innovative part of the Xpressions displays is the use of multiple graphic skins, which can be attached by buttons to either the front or back of the special Xpressions frames. Multiple skins allows quick changes to individual skins, showing a different product for different clients. Attaching the graphic to the front and back allows some 3D effects, creating different and unique looks for the displays.
The Xpressions graphics are a special stretch fabric, with a dye sub print on them. These graphic “skins” attach via a button hole on the skin, to a button on the Xpressions frame – allowing for very quick graphic swapping. These graphics are also machine washable, and also do not need to be removed for setup/dismantle. Many different size skins are available to change the look of the display.
Like the Burst, the Xpressions display system also allows the graphic skin to remain on the frame while collapsed. And like the Burst, the Xpressions frame sets up in seconds, and can be stored in a shipping case that converts to a podium. Also like the Burst, the Xpressions is available in both table top and floor standing designs; the table top version uses a smaller frame size, allowing Xpressions Salesmate table top pop up displays to fit into smaller carry bags for easy use in spur of the moment presentations.
The multiple skin graphics on the Xpressions allows a great deal more innovation, in graphics, and also in the hardware, and the manufacturer has been releasing some very intriguing accessories and modifications to the Xpressions displays recently. Both the floor standing and the table top frame sizes offer square graphic skins, rectangular graphics, and diamond shaped skins; all of these can attach in front, in back, or can be stretched from front to back, creating a variety of 3 dimensional effects.
More recent innovations include:
- sheer transparent skins (for more 3D effects),
- backlit skins (LED lighting behind them), and most recently,
- special adapters and connectors that allow angled connections.
This new feature, called Connex, allows users to create some fantastic new circular backwalls and towers – even round rooms. The graphic skins can still be squares, larger rectangles, or diamonds, and can also include the sheer skin and backlit skin options used on other Xpressions displays. With the new Xpressions Connex pop up displays, the only limit is your imagination!
This completes our review of the Pop Up Trade Show Display category. As noted, the common factor is the accordion-like, “pop up frame” that all of these systems use. The standard pop up stands use rollable, heavier fabric or laminated graphic panels. These are still very reliable choices for displays, especially for exhibitors that get a reliable design – a client three years ago purchased five Quadro S pop up displays, and last month told us that they’ve been to over 100 shows so far, with no visible wear and tear!